Don’t Complicate The Simple

You probably watched Batman on TV when you were a kid, right?

Adam West as Batman, Burt Ward as Robin.

Now even at 8-years old, I couldn’t understand how the Joker/Penguin/Riddler could mess up on such a consistent basis.

I mean, they finally capture the Dynamic Duo and, instead of just shooting them, what did they do?

They tied them to a big arrow fitted to an oversized crossbow aimed at a nest of killer bees suspended over a tank filled with radioactive sharks.

Always complicating the simple.

And guess what? It never delivered the desired results!

There is never any justification for things being complex when they could be simple

– Edward de Bono

But you know what? Simplicity is kryptonite to the health and fitness industry.

After all, complexity is sexy, complexity is proprietary, and complexity sells.

Don’t believe me? Then check these out.

Hell Raisin

OK, you’re just about to drive to the gym to do your workout, or maybe get a few miles under your belt in preparation for your first half marathon.

Now, you want to get the biggest bang for your training buck, so you grab some cutting-edge supplements like Sports Beans or Clif Shot energy gels as you head out the door.

After all, there’s a bunch of science-y sounding blurb on their websites and even a graph or two showing how effective they are.

Sure, at something like $1 or more for just 100 Calories/25 grams of carbohydrate, they’re not cheap.

But hey, all that science costs, and you can’t expect to buy a Ferrari for Chrysler money, right?

But you also don’t want to be paying Ferrari money for a Chrysler.

Studies with trained cyclists have found that an equivalent quantity of raisins resulted in near-identical performance to “cutting edge” energy gels/beans!

And the kicker? If you buy a big bag of Sun-Maid raisins, you’ll be paying less than 4 cents a pop.

Four cents vs $1 for the same result.

Imagine forking out $800,000 for a Chrysler just because someone stuck a Ferrari badge on the hood – that’s pretty much what we’re talking about here.

Now, I’m not saying that beans or gels are inherently bad.

Maybe you prefer the taste or have something against raisins, but the bottom line is they’re not providing some performance benefit that can’t be more cheaply obtained elsewhere.

And that describes probably 99.9% of all the supplements on sale out there.

Better Mousetrap

Now, it isn’t just supplements where that kind of thing happens, it’s rife in the health and fitness industry.

Let’s say you want to get a little “beach work” in after your barbell training, so you invest $30 in a pair of dumbells so you can pump out a few sets of seated biceps curls.

Low-tech but cheap and effective.

On the other hand, this Hammer Strength Iso-Lateral Biceps Curl machine is complicated, expensive and therefore better.

And, unlike your dumbell set, you can only use this machine for one specific exercise, so if you want to hit your triceps you’ll have to shell out for one of these…

So, big bucks for something that isn’t as useful as a cheap set of dumbells you can pick up at Walmart.

And it isn’t just Hammer Strength, the same thing goes for almost every piece of fitness equipment available today.

We’re better off ignoring all that – a flat bench, barbell set and power rack may be old school, but they’re by far the most effective tools we have for getting strong, fast.

Plus they can be way more cost effective than a gym membership.

Complex Programs

OK, let’s say you’ve managed to dodge all the woo woo about cutting-edge supplements and exercise equipment, and you’re eating real food and using free weights instead.

That already puts you light years ahead of most folks.

But there’s one more thing you need to keep tabs on – the program you use.

If we think of the equipment as the ingredients then the program is the recipe, so both need to be on point.

Now programs come in all flavors, from the “it’s almost too simple” all the way to “is Stephen Hawking available to explain this?”

And it’s really tempting to jump in with some complex program that looks good on paper, and has us charging around the gym doing all kinds of different exercises because we’ve been told that variety is the key to progress.

Well, that’s flat-out wrong!

In reality, a program should only be as complex as it needs to be for us to get the desired results.

Now for guys our age, that means getting strong.

And guess what? Getting strong really isn’t that complicated!

You can do that by just performing basic exercises like the squat, bench press, deadlift, standing press, and chin ups, for only two 1-hour sessions each week.

Trust me, I did all kinds of silly stuff for the longest time and made little, if any, progress.

Sure, a program that calls for twenty different exercises, three or four times per week may make you tired, sweaty and sore, but you soon end up running on a hamster wheel – putting in a ton of effort but having no measurable results to show for it.

That’s precisely what happened to me for more years than I want to remember.

Now at the age of 45, I can squat in the mid-300s, deadlift in the mid-400s, and do a set of five chin-ups with 90 lbs chained around my waist.

Stuff that I couldn’t imagine doing in my 20s or 30s, much less in my mid-40s!

And I’m not blessed with superior genetics or anything like that – I’m just a regular guy.

So, what’s made that possible? Nothing more complex than small increments of progress with an incredibly simple program that delivers consistent, predictable and measurable results.

It worked for me, it works for everybody I’ve coached, and it will work for you, too.

K.I.S.S.

The bottom line is breathtakingly straightforward.

• To lose weight we need to be in a sustained negative fat balance

• To get strong we need to use progressively heavier weights with the handful of exercises that can actually be trained

• We need to have a big enough “why” to make empowering decisions and take consistent action in a way that yields measurable results

For most of us, just those few simple things will take us 90% or more of the way to our goals.

Things really don’t need to be any more complex than that.

– Tim

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Images: Department for Business, Innovation & Skills – Williams F1 steering wheel, Bigstock

References:

Sun-dried raisins are a cost-effective alternative to Sports Jelly Beans in prolonged cycling

Metabolic and performance effects of raisins versus sports gel as pre-exercise feedings in cyclists

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