The Secret Is There Is No Secret!

Are you a B type, neither lazy nor irresponsible, who can't seem to make it to the gym (or the garage) on a regular basis. You have a long list of reasons why you can't and some of them are even pretty good. It is this larger half to whom I speak.
Republished with permission from

Publication Date: 1990

There are basically two types of people who use weight training for fitness. Type A, the driven and type B, the not-so-driven. Though the degrees of difference vary, I know that for those of you of the A type, it would be an act of cruelty to keep you from your workout - an absolute impossibility, like stopping the movement of a glacier or the stampede of wild horses.

So What Are You?

And then there are amongst you of the B type, neither lazy nor irresponsible, who can't seem to make it to the gym (or the garage) on a regular basis. You have a long list of reasons why you can't and some of them are even pretty good. It is to this larger half of the population to whom I speak.

To be effective, exercise must be consistent. This is the first and foremost precept of physical conditioning. If there's a secret, it's consistency. Don't quote me on this, but I believe bad exercise, badly executed consistently is far better than no exercise at all.

Getting to the gym whether you want to or not, even for a short appearance, a salute or a bow is vitally important to the health of your fitness lifestyle. A break in consistency leads to the erosion of your training foundations, and without sound foundations no structure will stand.

Must Be Desirable

How do we train consistently, especially if we don't have a milligram of discipline or patience? To be consistent, training must be desirable, not drudgery, not dull, boring or fruitless. It must and can be exciting. I bought my first set of weights when I was ten years old, haven't put them down since, and still find them fun and fulfilling. (Embarrassing - that I don't have any brains has nothing to do with it!)

For training to be productive, you must look forward to it with enthusiasm and confidence. Merely doing it is not good enough. Train with steady pace, moving from set to set, breathing fully to oxygenize and psychologically prepare for the set to follow. Get involved with the flow of your exercise, always focused on your immediate task and surroundings. Concentrate on the muscle's action, the burn, the pump, the extension and contractions.

This is not advanced thinking reserved for champions and pros. No time is too soon to think in these terms. If you're brand new in the gym, practicing your exercises with these obscure thoughts in mind will speed your progress. Always keep your eye on your goal, knowing you'll eventually achieve it and savor the time spent along the way.

Absence is erosive. In fact, your presence in the gym can be restoring, even bring you out of depression, solve a problem, squash stress or inspire you to have the best workout of your life. Try it! Just go to the gym when all roads lead elsewhere, maybe nowhere.

Learning New Things

I've discovered new exercise angles, approaches and combinations on these very low energy, low spirited times out of simple instinct and survival. I can't count how many times people have crawled in the front door of our World Gyms in Santa Cruz, a slim smile pasted on their face and 30 heroic minutes later march out exclaiming "I made it!".

Basically, you'll want to settle into a sound exercise program for at least 6-8 weeks to provide your mind with order and discipline. It also provides time to understand each exercise separately and collectively and to afford the healthy overload to the muscles so they respond by growing strong.


But when the time comes that you're short of time, distracted by life's ups and downs, achey, slightly fluish or overtrained, try one of my SlumpBusters. They're not original anymore, but they were 30 years ago when I first put them to use. I've written up some short and sweet exercise combos that I've used over and over again for great results when my training hit the wall. These combos are available below.

The thoughts above are important and should be read carefully. However, thoughts without deeds are just thoughts. For your pleasure and prosperity, put the following thoughts into action. Be strong.

Bent Arm Pullover & Press - Barbell Curl

A powerful and tough combination that hits the whole upper body, from longitudinal abdominal to major bi's and tri's, from serratus and lat to pec and front delt. Standing barbell curls done with thrust put a substantial demand on the erectors and upper shoulder cage - a lot of pump, a lot of heavy breathing, a lot of circulation.

Barbell Curl - Close Grip Bench Press - Pulldown

Pecs and front delts get involved with main focus on biceps and triceps. Pulldowns offers relief from demanding curl and press, and continues voluminous blood flow. Works lats effectively.

Wide Bench - Pulldown - Stiff Arm DB Pullover

A classic superset hitting chest, front delt, lat and upper back in a big way with minor work to tricep and bicep.

Wide Grip Bench - Light Barbell Pullover - Barbell Row

A heavy load, light load and heavy load series. Chest, front delt, tricep followed by serratus, tri and lat followed by upper back, rear delt and erectors.

Hammer Shoulder Press - Wide Grip Pulldown - Cybex Tricep Press (Leaning Forward)

The Hammer shoulder press effectively, safely works entire shoulder, while stimulating the triceps. The pulldown works the latisimus and if done with a focused flexing, the traps, rhomboid and scapula can be brought into play. The tricep press works pecs, triceps and upper back to round things out.

Shoulder Press - Seated Lat Row - Excalibur Delt

Freehand barbell press puts big demand on entire shoulder girth and upper back while nicely tying into the triceps. Seated lat row, my favorite single back movement, works the entire length of the lats with major focus on rhomboid. Full forward starting position activates erectors and biceps/forearm/grip are well stimulated. The Excalibur rear action puts the finishing touch on the upper back, getting hard to reach retails around the rhomboid and scapula.

Scott Curl - Cybex Tricep Press

There's nothing like a full arm pump to pick up your training spirits - joined with the chest, back and shoulder action of the Cybex tricep press, high pump and burn, low demand on cardio.

DB Clean & Press - Stiff Arm Dumbbell Pullover

The dumbbell clean & seldom done 'cuz it's ancient and tough. Nevertheless - it's one of the best single bodybuilding exercises working erectors and shoulders, traps and back for power and muscular density. The stiffarm pullover done with light to moderate weight for simple sound reps will give you a chance to re-oxygenize while hitting the lats, serratus and some more minor bi and tri.

Hammer Chest Press - Hammer Hi Lat

Hammer chest press combined with the Hammer hi lat does a lot of good weird stuff to your upper regions, pec, triceps, scapula, rhomboid, traps and a little biceps.

Squat - Leg Curl - Calf Machine

The one and only lower body slumpbuster I use is the squat, followed by leg curls and standing calves. These are done with high reps and a lot of breathing, sets of 15 on the squat, 15 on the curl and 25 + to failure on the calf - entirely leg, front, back and side.

Lunge - Stiff Leg Deadlift

Ladies - your attention, please. This peak training combination attacks enemies number 1, 2 & 3 - the glutes, the upper thighs and hips with considerable benefit to the lower back and overall muscularity. 4 sets of 15 to 20 reps, depending on your purpose and weight used will provide both athletics and balance to your training. Ease into this superset and build up reps, pace and weight slowly, patiently and assuredly. This is the ultimate glute blaster of all times, for all ages.

Wrist Curl - Hammer Curl - Overhead Pulley Ext

Total arm building with the accents on minor syllables - seldom worked forearm, grip, lower bicep and tricep. Unique series of exercises adds interest, dimension and valuable muscle mass and power to your bodybuilding storehouse - Barbell wrist curl with forearms resting snugly on the thighs for 4 sets of 15. Hammer curls are thumbs up, performed alternately and overhead pulleys are done your style for pump and burn.

Up & Down The Rack

This bittersweet, pumping/burning dumbbell routine can bring tears of bliss and tears of tortured submission to your eyes - curling, pressing, purling - it's all the same, a total slam of 8 to 10 sets in 4 to 5 minutes, virtually nonstop. Start light for 15 reps heading up the rack in 2 1/2 or 5 lb jumps, each consecutive set done to max with very reasonable form (minimal cheating overlooked) until a 2 rep set is reached, then head back downhill, no coasting allowed until your courage or blood sugar give out. A partner is helpful to spur you on, though the silent and brave who go the trip alone are to be admired. Great burn and ache last for days and informs you that this intense slumpbuster can only be done once or twice a month.

High Rep Target Training

For a mindless day where the energy is there but the desire and attention apparently are not. Pick an exercise, any exercise that comes to thought and with a light weight, start repping out toward 100. See how far you get and see how fast this gets your attention. Concentrate on form and the rhythm of the reps. This will push back the pain barrier. You'll need to take short breaks to allow new blood to briefly floor out lactic acid. Continue until 100 reps are reached.

10 Sets Of 10 Reps

Nothing intricate here - just dogged set after set with ensuing momentum. Works well with basic bench, squat, standing bar curl, press behind neck and lat row, although any exercise you dream up will do. Start with light weights for 10 sets of 10, as you proceed with 30 second intervals (or partner X partner) workload gets tougher until 10 reps are a delirious challenge - forced reps, and partner assists are allowed. This m.o. can effectively break growth plateaus by implementing over a 6 week period.

The details missing from these pages are stored in my head. Email me and we'll collaborate. Your gain is mine.

Remember, while we're all alone (which helps make this one of the most fulfilling sports), we're also all in this together.

And in the gym there's probably nothing you're going through that we haven't all gone through at one time or another. It's the peaks and valleys... I'll get to that another time.