Charles is here on a weekly basis to help you cut through the B.S. and get some real perspective regarding health and training. Please post feedback or questions to Charles directly in the comments below this article.
 
The overwhelming majority of us want to be leaner and stronger. Strength may take precedence for some, and body composition may be more important to others, but we all want a combination of the two. 
 
This is obvious with athletes like competitive powerlifters and weightlifters, who need to be strong and lean to meet their sport-specific performance goals. But it's just as true for everybody else. Grandparents want to keep their blood sugar under control and have more energy to play with their grandkids. Many people want to feel better about what they see in the mirror. Maybe you’re trying to lose weight for your wedding, or struggling with low back pain. 
 
All of these goals boil down to becoming leaner and stronger. As a bonus, when you focus on those two simple goals, other training objectives like improved mobility, agility, endurance, and injury prevention fall into place.
 
Girl with a strong back squat
Whatever your performance or aesthetic goals may be, they boil down to two things: get strong, and get lean.
 

Simple Goals, Simple Methods

Last week, I questioned the validity of five commonly-performed exercises in gyms today, namely planks, stability work, ropes, tire flipping, and box jumps. While all five of those drills might be helpful in the right context, in the vast majority of cases, there are better choices relative to the two goals that almost all of us share. 
 
When it comes to making the most of your efforts in the gym, forget the hacks. These are the tried-and-true ways to get lean and strong.
 
  1. Lift Weights: Get off the BOSU ball and stop letting your lifting partner assist you to complete the last few inches of a rep. Lifting weights is about you and the bar. Focus on proven, multi-joint, large range-of-motion movements like squats, rows, deadlifts, presses, pull ups, and leg presses. 
     
  2. Do Cardio: Don’t get too hung up on the type of cardio you choose. Just pick an exercise that is the least obnoxious to you. Walking, jogging, rowing, cycling, swimming, skating, and hiking are all good options. Variety helps motivation and reduces the likelihood of injury, so switch things up from time-to-time. HIIT or sprint-style cardio is useful as well, but keep in mind that this type of work is fueled by the same energy reserves as your lifting sessions, so proceed with caution.
     
  3. Get a Handle on Your Diet: Make sure you’re ingesting an appropriate number of calories per day, and focus your attention on macronutrient ratios. Get these two basics in check and your diet will begin to fall into place to support your training and body composition goals.
 

Don't Get Caught Up in Complication

These three recommendations reflect how bodybuilders trained and ate back in the 1960’s and 70’s. The lesson here is that success always leaves clues. We’ve had these methods figured out for decades. But people always look for the latest trend to replace good old fashioned hard work, like training masks, Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP), or If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). 
 
When it comes to our training goals, our commonalities greatly outweigh our differences. Despite what you’ve been told, you likely don’t need more core stability, postural integration, corrective exercise, or “flow.” You probably just need less fat and more strength. I know I do.
 

This Week’s Training:

Volume: 103,280lb (Last Week: 96,988lb) 
 
Significant Lifts:
  • High Bar Squat: 250lbx8
  • 4” Block Pull: 430lbx10
  • Bench Press: 205lbx9
 
This was a strong training week, with a few PR’s and near-PR’s. My bodyweight is continuing to drop slowly, which makes these personal bests even more gratifying. My orthopedic health is holding up pretty well, and my only recent complaint is a bit of left elbow irritation.
 
I have two more weeks of higher reps (including a one-week deload, which can't come soon enough), and then I will drop down to sets of 3-5 for several weeks. I hope to hit some new PR’s in that rep bracket.
Monday, April 18, 2016
 
Bodyweight: 197.6lb
Volume: 31,365lb
 
Goblet Squat
  • Set 1: 10lb × 10
  • Set 2: 53lb × 10
  • Set 3: 53lb × 10
 
High Bar Squat
  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 95lb × 8
  • Set 3: 135lb × 6
  • Set 4: 185lb × 3
  • Set 5: 225lb × 8
  • Set 6: 245lb × 8
  • Set 7: 250lb × 8
  • Set 8: 230lb × 8
 
Deadlift
  • Set 1: 135lb × 5
  • Set 2: 225lb × 5
  • Set 3: 275lb × 5
  • Set 4: 315lb × 5
 
Leg Press
  • Set 1: 90lb × 8
  • Set 2: 180lb × 8
  • Set 3: 270lb × 8
  • Set 4: 360lb × 8
  • Set 5: 410lb × 8
 
Standing Calf Raise
  • Set 1: 200lb × 8
  • Set 2: 200lb × 8
  • Set 3: 200lb × 8
 
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
 
Bodyweight: 198.4lb
Volume: 13,960lb
 
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
  • Set 1: 100lb × 10
  • Set 2: 140lb × 8
  • Set 3: 170lb × 8
  • Set 4: 180lb × 8
  • Set 5: 190lb × 8
 
Seated Row
  • Set 1: 135lb × 8
  • Set 2: 165lb × 8
  • Set 3: 180lb × 8
 
Military Press
  • Set 1: 45lb × 8
  • Set 2: 65lb × 8
  • Set 3: 85lb × 8
  • Set 4: 85lb × 8
 
Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)
  • Set 1: 50lb × 8
  • Set 2: 60lb × 8
  • Set 3: 70lb × 8
 
Thursday, April 21, 2016
 
Bodyweight: 198.6lb
Volume: 34,806lb
 
Goblet Squat
  • Set 1: 10lb × 10
  • Set 2: 10lb × 10
  • Set 3: 10lb × 10
 
4" Block Pull
  • Set 1: 135lb × 8
  • Set 2: 185lb × 8
  • Set 3: 225lb × 8
  • Set 4: 315lb × 8
  • Set 5: 365lb × 8
  • Set 6: 405lb × 8
  • Set 7: 430lb × 10 (Video Below)
 
 
Hack Squat
  • Set 1: 90lb × 8
  • Set 2: 140lb × 8
  • Set 3: 180lb × 8
  • Set 4: 210lb × 8
  • Set 5: 210lb × 8
 
Back Extension
  • Set 1: +150lb × 8
  • Set 2: +150lb × 8
  • Set 3: +150lb × 8
 
Seated Calf Raise
  • Set 1: 90lb × 8
  • Set 2: 90lb × 8
  • Set 3: 90lb × 8
 
Friday, April 22, 2016
 
Bodyweight: 198lb
Volume: 23,149lb
 
Bench Press
  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 95lb × 8
  • Set 3: 135lb × 6
  • Set 4: 175lb × 4
  • Set 5: 195lb × 8
  • Set 6: 205lb × 9
  • Set 7: 205lb × 8
  • Set 8: 195lb × 8
 
Close Grip Bench Press
  • Set 1: 155lb × 8
  • Set 2: 165lb × 8
  • Set 3: 170lb × 8
 
Chin Up
  • Set 1: 1 reps
  • Set 2: 2 reps
  • Set 3: 3 reps
  • Set 4: 4 reps
  • Set 5: 5 reps
  • Set 6: 6 reps
  • Set 7: 7 reps
 
Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Set 1: 100lb × 8
  • Set 2: 130lb × 8
  • Set 3: 130lb × 8
 
EZ Bar Curl
  • Set 1: 45lb × 8
  • Set 2: 65lb × 8
  • Set 3: 75lb × 8
 
More Articles to Cut Through the Nonsense:
 
Photo courtesy of Jeff Nguyen / CrossFit Empirical.
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