Training Smart Not Hard

Whether you are a high powered CEO with little or no time to spare, just want more time to play video games or want to spend more time with your friends, family and loved ones, you need to Train Smart Not Hard.

I have spent hours and hours in the gym doing a whole range of different types of exercise at differing intensities and frequencies and have developed a program based on 14 key exercises. The core of Train Smart Not Hard is built around these 14 key exercises all of which can be scaled down or up depending on your current level.

The 14 key exercises

  • Pull ups
  • Chin ups
  • Dips
  • EZ-bar barbell curl
  • Front squat
  • Back squat
  • Deadlift
  • Dragon flags
  • Flat bench
  • Incline bench
  • Decline bench
  • Barbell back row
  • Single arm dumbbell back row
  • Inverted back row

Workouts should be performed fasted, twice a week and range between 30-45 minutes. I know what you are thinking. How do you fit so many different exercises into just 2 days and such a short amount of time? Well a key principle of Train Smart Not Hard is maximising your time. So, get in and get out, lift heavy for your ability and do not waste your own time. I have worked out in the past for 3 times a week to 3 times a day 5 days a week and the best results I have gotten is from this program that I have put together myself. Workouts are performed in cycles and exercises are grouped together. The aim is to get the maximal hormonal response from our workouts which is why Train Smart Not Hard is based around the “Big Three” lifts (Bench Press, Squats and Deadlifts) and their variations. These are the exercises that cause the largest hormonal release and will help you to lose fat and put on lean mass.

For more information regarding hormone optimisation visit Mike Mahler at Aggressive Strength or visit the Onnit blog.

The Structure

The picture below illustrates the structure of a typical month of training.


As you can see the workouts are cycled and you only work out twice a week. A squat day would consist of front squats, back squats and deadlifts with dragon flags thrown in for core work in that order. A bench day would consist of flat bench, decline bench, incline bench (at 20 degrees, traditionally people tend to use 45 degrees but that takes the focus off the upper pectorals and places more emphasis on the shoulders), barbell back row, single arm dumbbell back row (both sides) and inverted back row. Finally a day will consist in the order of pull ups, chin ups and dips with EZ-bar barbell curls to finish off your biceps (this exercise is added to balance out your arms).

What load? How many reps? How many sets?

Like a lot of exercises it depends on your level. If you are a beginner body weight is fine for pull ups, chin ups and dips. If you are having trouble with pull ups and chin ups a resistance band can help give you some assistance. If you are more advanced add some resistance to bodyweight moves in the form of a weight vest or attach some weights around your waist with a belt. To scale down dragon flags just elevate your legs instead of your whole body until you get stronger. If you are doing weight work it is a good idea to work out your 1 rep max (the maximum amount of weight you can lift for a single repetition). The Train Smart Not Hard way utilises pyramid sets (where you lift a weight for a number of reps and sets and then increase the load) with 60-90 seconds of rest between sets for all of its exercises. Start at around 60-65% of your 1RM and then increase the load to 75-80% of you 1RM (retest yourself after 4-6 weeks to check your progress). I recommend working in the 6-8 rep range for 2-4 sets, depending on your level.

For more information regarding the minimalist approach to exercise visit Dave Asprey at The Bulletproof Executive or read The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss.

If you follow this program of Training Smart Not Hard and Eat Clean the Train Smart Not Hard way you should see yourself getting stronger and leaner without having to spend hours in the gym which is just not necessary. Believe me I have done it.

Train Smart Not Hard!