How many times have you seen the workout for the day and walked into the gym thinking, “oh, this workout is pretty simple, this will be an easy one.” If you are being honest with yourself, it is probably at least once. I know that I have fallen prey to this more times than I can count. Unfortunately, simple does not mean easy, as many of us have found out many, many times. It is the simple workouts that seem to hurt the most. Partly because they tend to be underestimated, and partly because simple movements allow us to push the intensity.
Generally the simple things are the basic things: foundational movements or low complexity movements. In and of themselves these movements are easy… when you’re fresh and only have to do ten of them. They get dangerous when you have to do multiple reps and multiple sets when you are out of breath. These movements are simple, but that just means that we can do them faster.
Take for instance a heavy, technical lift. Let’s say, a heavy snatch. Obviously, most people will think that is hard. But everyone would also agree that a heavy snatch is not simple. On the other side of the coin, what would you think of a classic workout: 4 rounds for time, 50 air squats, run 400 meters. Two movements, both pretty easy and non-technical. Most would agree that this workout is simple. Many would probably think this workout is too simple, boring even. However, done correctly, this workout will hurt way more than heavy snatches. Heavy snatches require technical proficiency and enough rest to ensure proper recovery between reps. All of which reduces the intensity of the workout. There is nothing stopping you from completing the second workout, other than your pain threshold.
This is just one example out of many that I could list. Randy, Grace, Isabel, 2k row, etc. These workouts are not complicated, they don’t have a lot of moving parts or gimmicks. But that is the beauty of these workouts. They are simple, but that is what allows us to not overthink them and push our bodies. And I can guarantee you, these workouts, and many like them, are definitely NOT easy. Intensity is the independent variable most commonly associated with maximizing favorable adaptations to exercise. Meaning, if you want to lose weight, gain muscle, prepare for sport, or any other goal you may have, incorporating intensity will get you the results you want, faster. Simple workouts are great at allowing us to keep our intensity high.
Your mindset this month will be to try and recognize opportunities to push the intensity. Try to identify “simple” workouts, and try not to underestimate them. Instead, come in knowing it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it when you are spent and done.