The Best Workout Ever

What if you could narrow every greatness that falls under the broad umbrella of strength training down to one 60-minute session? What if you didn't really need 10 or 50 WODS or 5-gym days per week for the "Bro-split" plus the yoga DVD? Could you cover all bases and still build strength or size and leanness? Absolutely.

I've been doing some variation of this exact workout on every Tuesday for longer than I'd like to admit. It does not take a lot of time. It works, and it's not only me.

I could say much about a handful of others who have methodically and intensely applied this series of lifts once per week. They have ran faster, jumped higher, and built themselves up to double bodyweight (conventional) deadlift and bench press 1.5 X their bodyweight for reps.

You are able to do this workout. Find a variation of the movements that works well for you. For example, full range of motion conventional deadlifts are not for everyone. In fact, you could absolutely say that this routine "works" because it demands decent strength, stability, and range of motion to begin with.

If you're looking to gain size and strength, eat a lot. If you're looking to lose fat or whatnot, eat a little less. You need to do this workout. Again, it works. In the process you will have achieved some fairly substantial performance gains (i.e. what you can DO with your body) and by then will tend to care less about nitpicking your appearance.

1. Warm-up.

I usually do a brief but specific series of low-intensity movements that require mobility, stability, and balance. For example, single leg "hinge" reach to floor, to side lunge with overhead reach, to yoga push-up, to a few deep goblet squats.

*Do your top priority movement next. Many gym folks think that should be "bench" or "bicep curls," but it should probably be...

See - told you than ANYBODY can do this workout!
2. Hinge

The bread-and-butter is somewhere in the realm of 2 to 3 warm-up sets then 3 to 4 sets of 3 to 5 reps. Every so often we build to a single rep/PR or do something brutal like the Metallica Test.

Trap bar deadlifts, stiff leg deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, suitcase deadlifts, kettle bell swings and basically any variation of the hinge movement fit the bill. If you're of the persuasion for Olympic lifts (I'm usually not), those would fall here as well.

3. Horizontal press

We typically do the bench press as our horizontal press because it's a rest for the legs between two major lower body movements. Baseball players with finicky shoulders may want to do some unilateral dumbbell presses or "land mine" presses here. Runners and people who sit for the majority of the day would be better served doing push up variations than demand total body core control, rather than bench press. But the goal is to do one or two warm-up sets and then 3 to 4 sets of 3 to 5 reps.

4. Single leg squat

While it's nearly impossible to deadlift and squat heavy within the same session, split leg work is usually not a problem when done after deadlifts for reasons discussed in more detail here.

Do one warm-up set and then three sets of 6 to 12 reps (each leg) on split squats (my favorite), lunge variations, or single leg box squats. Working one leg at a time involves a large percentage of your muscle mass, and when done with intensity, seriously taxes the cardiovascular system. Cardio - check.

5. Abs / loaded carry finisher

Do two to three circuits of two or three movements that involve abs and arms or legs. Here's an example and one that we highly favor:

Chin-ups with controlled leg tuck at the top (no momentum), to ab rollout, to farmers walk. Or if we're rushed for time we'll do some rope climbs or just the loaded carries (farmers walk).

Rotational sport athletes may throw in some rotational work here. Endurance athletes may want to do some high rep step ups or jump rope. Whatever - but make it total body, fairly brief, and intense.

And yet...the intensity may vary based on how hard you pushed yourself in the other lifts of the day. What I've experienced over time is that epic finishers of utter desolation are over-rated. More advanced lifters should be careful not to dip too far into their recovery abilities which absolutely can cut into the ability to progress in the big lifts.

Really, that covers everything. Stay out of the gym for a day or two. Stick with it and work your way toward nearly anything you want to specialize in.

All the WODs and numerous methods and means are fine if you're of the MENTALITY that gets bored and needs a lot of variety. But I don't think they're necessary for the 99.8% of us. Most of us just need only one or two other weight training sessions per week, preferably something that includes a squat, chin-up, and overhead press variation, and you have a SOLID program.

There's beauty in simplicity.

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