A Clean Start

Declutter a complicated training regimen with this simple, streamlined mass-building routine.

I can’t throw that out, I may need it someday!

And so begins the human tendency to steadfastly hold onto every item we’ve ever purchased or otherwise called our own, cramming it all into the hidden nooks and forgotten crannies of our homes. It leads to garages chock full of tools and toys, basements stacked high with storage bins and closets packed to the ceiling like a giant game of Hoarder Jenga. Believing that you need to keep every last piece of clutter is nothing more than a mental crutch and an irrational fear, experts say. It’s sentimentality getting in the way of reality.

And so it goes with your workout. Over the years, you’ve likely picked up all sorts of additions to your training: an interesting exercise here, a cool technique there. All of a sudden you’re following a complex, bolted-together regimen of disparate pieces, many of which you believe you couldn’t do without because of some perceived success from using them in the past.

To that we say it’s time for a thorough spring cleaning — yes, right now in the fall — because doing the right thing for your fitness goals knows no season. Today we challenge you to temporarily mothball your current program and replace it with this stripped-down, back-to-basics plan. It’s just 16 exercises split over two workouts, one focused on the upper body and one for lower body, each of which should be done twice a week for four weekly sessions total.

We only ask that you try it for one month, resisting the urge to add to it or tweak it in any way. Instead, embrace it as a chance to get back in touch with the simple and efficient nature of weight training in its purest form: using basic barbell, dumbbell and bodyweight exercises, striving for 10 reps per set as you pyramid up the weight each set in search of your upper strength limits.

The best part? This universal approach will provide results over time regardless of whether you’re a mere beginner or more experienced lifter. We hope a refreshing change inspires a longer-term reevaluation of your fitness regimen. And who knows? Without the overstuffed workouts of your past, you might just find a few precious hours in the day to clear out some clutter on the home front, too. 

Back-to-Basics Plan

Do four sets each of the exercises in the order listed, pyramiding up the weight set to set and aiming for 10 reps or failure, whichever comes first. (Beginners should cut the sets down to two to three per exercise max.) Perform all sets of one exercise before moving to the next. Rest no more than 90 seconds between sets and exercises. Do each workout twice a week.