28 Mar To Maximize Strength And Performance, Stick To The Basics

The more I learn through the years, the more I’m convinced about one thing.

To achieve greatness, you have to be willing to stick to the basics.

What are the basics? More in a minute about that.

This is perhaps one of the most important questions in fitness and performance that you have to be willing to answer – can you stick to the basics?

No matter what the goal, training seems to revolve around sticking to fundamentals.

In fact, if there’s an “insider secret” to getting the best results out of your training, it’s simply sticking to the fundamental exercises and lifts.

Listen, this is not to say we shouldn’t do different things and develop new skills. We absolutely should. And let’s be clear, variety is an important part of training. But, variety has to be used intelligently and strategically, not randomly.

You could also say that diet and nutrition is about the basics, as well.

Great nutrition is about sticking to basic and fundamental concepts such as:

  • eat as many whole foods as possible
  • eat vegetables in abundance
  • avoid sugar and processed foods
  • eat quality proteins and healthy fats
  • don’t over-consume carbohydrates

These are simple, basic concepts that, if followed, can provide exceptional results for most people.

But, back to the question – can you stick to the basics?

It terms of training, it’s the same way.

We don’t need more exercises in our tool kit. We need better exercise.

Gray Cook once stated, “more exercise isn’t better, better exercise is better.”

'More exercise isn't better, better exercise is better.' - Gray CookClick To Tweet

Here are the fundamentals in selected areas:

For the kettlebell enthusiast:

  • Swing
  • Goblet Squat
  • Turkish Get Up
  • Strict press
  • Clean
  • Snatch

For the bodyweight training enthusiast:

  • Push-up
  • Pull up
  • Squat
  • Dip
  • Sprint
  • Jump or explosive movement

These are just some examples of basic expressions of movement. The basics in bodyweight training could easily be debated depending on what you read.

For example, Carl Paoli in his book FreeStyle discusses 4 core movements which are the pistol squat, handstand push-up, burpee, and muscle-up. (Yes, these appear advanced, however there are regressions and variations).

I think we’d all agree that a bodyweight squat, push-up, and pull-up are good places to start with the basics of bodyweight training and I’d also add primitive movements (floor work, crawling, rolling, etc.)

For the powerlifter, it’s simple:

  • Deadlift
  • Press
  • Squat

For the Olympic weightlifter:

  • Snatch
  • Clean and jerk
  • Front squat

These are all fundamentals, correct?

Also, all of these have supplemental or assistance exercises, yes. But those are secondary. They are supplemental. That can be an example of where variety comes into play.

It is truly amazing what can be discovered about movement, strength, and performance by immersing oneself in the basics of strength training.

Understand the big goal, then understand what are the basics (the essentials) for that goal.

It is really that simple? Well, kinda-sorta.

In one of my favorite books (The One Thing), the authors discuss their simple philosophy of concentrating efforts on what matters most. (By the way, I recommend everyone read this great book).

There are many examples of questions in the book to help the reader understand what matters most relative to the goal.

Here’s an example. “What’s the one thing you can do in the next 90 days to get in the best shape of your life?”

I bet you could identify the one big thing that if you did it, would lead to 80% of the success for that goal.

The answer is usually something basic or fundamental that can be changed or implemented.

It forces you to think about the one thing that matters most.

Here’s another specific question and answer that comes to mind, just as an example.

Q: What’s the one thing you can do to improve foundational strength in the next month?

A: A focused squat program

The simple takeaway lesson of this entire article is this.

Stick to the basics, work to master them and don’t get distracted.

Focus and consistency with the basics produces results, folks.

Focus and consistency with the basics produces results.Click To Tweet

And, focus is a matter of deciding what you’re NOT going to do.

Once again, can you stick to the basics?

Spread the word! Please share this on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere you’d like.

Scott Iardella, MPT, CSCS writes about strength training methods to optimize health and performance. If you enjoyed this, join a strong community of passionate fitness enthusiasts and subscribe below to get a ton of cool, free stuff! Subscribe at RdellaTraining.com/join and get your FREE Report and Resource Guide.
1Comment
  • Anthony Paulino
    Posted at 19:00h, 06 April Reply

    Love this short read! Thanks for sharing this article to emphasize the significance of doing the basic tasks really well versus trying to implement too many things. I try to focus on the Big 3 (Squat, DL, B. Press) every week with my clients and even my own training regime. The consistent execution of these prime exercises will always yield results and teach clients the value of hard work and persistence.

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