A couple of months ago, I was training my client Katie Coles at a nearby training facility. Normally, I trained her out of my garage, but every once in a while we’d venture out. This particular facility was completely empty at the time; not a single lifter was in sight.

As Katie began warming up, a nerdy-looking gentleman entered the facility sporting full workout attire and a clipboard to journal his workout. He actually looked so ridiculous that I whispered in something funny in Katie’s ear at his expense (real professional, I know).

Katie performed three sets of parallel squats with 135 lbs for around eight reps each set followed by three sets of Romanian deadlifts with 135 lbs for around ten reps each set.

On two different occasions the gentleman approached us. The first time he said, “Holy crap, she can lift more weight than I can.” The second time he said, “Wow she’s super strong. I’ve never seen a girl lift so much weight.”

His workout consisted of three sets of machine preacher curls followed by three sets of cable tricep extensions. That’s it. Then he left. I guess it was arm-day for him. I would bet my life-savings that this fellow could not perform a single chin up or dip.

Although I have an amazing garage gym, I still lift off-and-on at commercial gyms. In fact, I’ve been lifting at commercial gyms since I was 15 years old (for 18 years). I have a rule that I stick to: Do Not Ever Offer Unsolicited Advice!

I don’t want some jackass coming up to me while I’m squatting or deadlifting, telling me that I’m going to wreck my knees and back, so I do unto others as I wish others did unto me by keeping my mouth shut. This is unfortunate because I could actually correct the technique of literally every person in the gym, but I only offer my advice when people approach me.

On this occasion, I was tempted to break my rule and actually say something to the nerdy gentleman. I wanted to say to him, “I know you want to get stronger and more muscular, so I’m gonna help you out and teach you how to squat and deadlift. For the next six months, I want you to perform only squats, deadlifts, push ups, chin ups, dips, and hanging rows. Once you demonstrate proficiency in these six lifts, then you can branch out and start using machines.”

But of course, I didn’t say anything to the fellow. This did get me thinking, however, and led me to this conclusion:

If every gym in America only had squat racks, platforms, benches, chin bars, and dip bars, physiques would be SOOOOOOO much better, as it would force people to get strong at the big basic exercises.

6 Comments

  • TJ says:

    Bret,

    The truly “sad” part is that this particular gentleman was already ahead of most in that he actually showed up. Naturally your ideas would be a giant leap forward. But who knows……perhaps he was fortunate enough to have someone direct him to your blog and is reading this as we speak!

    All the best to you in 2010!

  • Joe says:

    Bret, you are spot on. I remember Alwyn Cosgrove runs his very well known Results Fitness, and he only has the stuff you mentioned in his gym and look at the results he has. Chad Waterbury also said in an article that most of his equipment can fit in the back of his car, or something to that effect, and look at the success he’s had. If gyms had just that equipment, plus your glute exercises, and a do or die mentality, we would all have physiques like Eugene Sandow.

    • Joe,

      I get where Chad was going in that interview but if it were me I’d need a big truck, as I wouldn’t feel comfortable not having certain key pieces of equipment that I feel are critical. But you are spot in with the do-or-die mentality.

  • Daniel says:

    I admire him walking up to you and saying the girl is strong. He must have been mesmorized seeing that.

  • A'Mar says:

    “Do Not Ever Offer Unsolicited Advice! I don’t want some jackass coming up to me while I’m squatting or deadlifting, telling me that I’m going to wreck my knees and back, so I do unto others as I wish others did unto me by keeping my mouth shut.”
    >>>

    I feel the same exact way about that man. There are so many ego lifters in my gym. Sometimes, I can’t tell if it’s arms day or back day based off of some of the lifts that these fellas are doing haha.

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