“It is vain to do with more what can be done with less” – William of Occam
The Simple & Sinister program has been ruthlessly pruned down to only two exercises, known to deliver the widest range of benefits while being simple to learn and safe when properly executed. The program is foolproof. — Pavel Tsatsouline, Simple & Sinister
According to Wikipedia, the term minimalism, “describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is stripped down to it’s most fundamental features.”
Exercise is no different. It is the art of getting the utmost out of the minimum. To strip away the inessential, to find out what is left. — Tom Furman, Armor of War
As humans with emotions and imaginations we are taught, or instinctively apply, the concept of morality to objects, ideas and activities. Things, objects or ideas become holy or evil, good or bad. One has to ask, “How can an exercise or food be given moral values?”
When exercise is discussed it is often within a moral template such as “Good” or “Bad”. This is a needless distraction. Things work or they don’t. For some, they are a panacea, for others, not so much.
Doing as little as possible, to just get by, may not be the most efficient strategy. Doing as much as you can tolerate, walking the edge of injury/overtraining is just as foolhardy. There exists a sweet spot of the best “bang per buck” prescription. Some find it through self experimentation and instinct, some through coaching and some never find it. Depending on your goals, needs, wants, time, age and focus, it will change.
If your goal is to get the most out of the least, then there are several options. In my ebook, “Armor of War“, I list three basic movements. A push, a pull, a squat. These can be done with body weight and increased difficulty or with adding outside weight to any individual drill. Rather than hype this as perfect, it is more important to be aware of it’s shortcomings.
- No strong posterior chain movement.
- No “whole body” component.
The idea of using external weights for movement is an important one. It is also a flaw in body weight exercise. The precision and effectiveness of lifting weights vs lifting yourself cannot be denied.
By adding a simple implement, like a kettlebell, the process looks quite different. In his book, “Simple & Sinister“, Pavel Tsatsouline outlines a program based on not THREE, but TWO exercise that cover a lot of geography. They are the Hard Style kettlebell swing and the Turkish Getup. They are applied frequently and in limited doses. It’s hard to argue with the simplicity of this program. Given the high value, there is also a downside when you choose minimalism. There are things neglected. Like trying to accommodate friends, you can’t be all things to all people. Programs based on simplicity and minimalism shine in some areas and are tarnished in others. The shortcomings for Simple & Sinister are in fact, quite simple.
- No full range leg movement. [aside from the warm up]
- No full range upper body pull.
- No full range upper body push.
So what to do? Keep adding to the program? Of course not. The best outcome would be to think less locally and more globally. Look at your training from several angles. Just like bread, no matter how thin you slice it there are two sides. The solution is to make sure that the combination of two simple programs is going to be more effective than either one alone. That would be called SYNERGY.
Synergy is the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. The term synergy comes from the Greek word synergia ????????? from synergos, ????????, meaning “working together”. — Wikipedia
So what Armor of War lacks, Simple & Sinister provides. What Simple & Sinister lacks, Armor of War provides. Like chocolate and peanut butter, they were meant to be together.
So how would you program these methodologies together? Let’s use the KISS principle.
- There will be an “A” Day and a “B” day.
- Initially there will be a reduction in intensity and volume. It’s okay to begin at the beginning.
- All training frequencies are OK. There is no good or evil. Just what is applicable to your goals.
- If the build up of volume in Armor of War adversely affects your Turkish Getups. Reduce it. Nothing is sacred.
- You can train 6 days a week, 4 days a week, 3 days a week or even 2 days a week if your life is overwhelming you.
To avoid hyperbole, let me say this. This program of AOW+S & S is slick and elegant. It would not be my choice for an NFL pro. He might be better suited to go to Louie Simmons at Westside Barbell Club. Lot of programs and writers want you to believe in magic, but only deliver smoke and mirrors.
The biggest mistake in achieving any goal is consistency and adherence. Missed workouts or just starting and quitting constantly. True champions and those who achieve goals simply show up, ignore the outcome and do the work. The more complex the program and greater amount of variables, the greater chance for the average trainee to just quit or give up. Making the work simple and elegant lends itself towards the attitude of accomplishment. It’s hard to say NO to.
So rather than overthink the process, just act. You can actually have both books on your phone. It’s literally that easy. 100% reference in the palm of your hand, anytime and anyplace.