I don’t fix my own car because I can’t be arsed. It’s not that I’m physically or mentally incapable of doing it, it’s that it’s a complex process that requires knowledge and practice and I’ve got no real enthusiasm for it. So I just pay a professional to do it for me.
We should treat exercise the same way. If you can’t be bothered to educate yourself to a professional standard (and who can?), you should be paying someone who has dedicated his life to exercise to show you what to do. Listening to experts might not be popular right now but there’s something very reassuring in letting someone who knows exactly what they’re doing handle complicated things for you. Despite the complexity of keeping our bodies in shape we see personal training as expensive and inessential so we workout without the necessary knowledge, which usually ends in no gains, an injury, or both. It’s why for every jacked-up expert you clock smashing out 120lbs bench presses there are two out of shape amateurs wandering aimlessly around the gym like a self-conscious teenager at a school disco.
This article is for those amateurs. I’m one of them. You’d like a personal trainer but you can’t afford one so instead you get a workout plan off the Internet, copy it to your phone and then attempt to recreate it at your gym. But those guides are generally excessively complex, need machines your cheapo gym doesn’t have and are designed by and for 400lb monstrosities that do it for a living. You don’t want to win any competitions, you’re just trying to get big arms so you can take a good Tinder pic and you need a plan that reflects that.
To try and solve this issue I’ve worked with my personal trainer on putting together the simplest possible workout plan that you could have, boiling down all of the 1000s of potential exercises you could be doing into five essential ‘movements’. The 639 team explained to me that ultimately every exercise you do is just a variation on a theme and it doesn’t make a huge amount of difference if you’re doing, for example, a shoulder press with a bar or dumbbells – what really matters is that you’re exercising that muscle group. This selection of five ‘movements’ will work every major muscle group and, if combined with an appropriate diet, will improve your physique. You might not be able to afford a personal trainer but even if you did have one they’d just be getting you to do something like this:
What the exercise is: Kettlebell Squat
Which muscles it works: Quads, glutes and core
What the exercise is: Shoulder Press
Which muscles it works: Shoulders, triceps and core
What the exercise is: Push Up
Which muscles it works: Chest, triceps and core
What the exercise is: Romanian Deadlift
Which muscles it works: Hamstrings, glutes and core
What the exercise is: TRX Row
Which muscles it works: Back and biceps