Space Station Dilemma

One major obstacle to getting started exercising is the overwhelming amount of information out there. Especially to someone new, or already intimidated by taking a fitness journey, the amount of different exercises can be daunting. As a fitness professional I will tell you many of which are superfluous or ineffective. If there were only four exercises in the universe how much less confusing would it be to start training?  

One of the most common questions I hear from people (not clients just people looking for free advice) is a “what do I do?”  On a quick aside, if I don’t know you personally and you ask me this question the answer will always be: “you should buy a session from me, as in with money, because this is my job.” But I digress, the question above inadvertently illustrates one of the biggest challenges to a new trainee. Because there are so many numerous machines and exercises at your disposal one of the biggest lessons to be learned in the gym is “what you don’t need to do.”


One mental exercise I like in terms of exercise selection is what Coach Dan John refers to in his book Can You Go? As the “prisoner’s dilemma.” Not to be confused with the game theory prisoner’s dilemma, this is a scenario where you are allowed only three 15 minute workouts a week outside of your cell what exercises would the workouts consist of? 

Personally, I don’t like imagining being in prison. So lets reword this as “The Space Station Dilemma” you’re a brilliant scientist on a space station with access to the gym/gravity simulator only three 15 minute sessions a week. Well, I can tell you my own personal workout would be about three minutes of foam rolling and “smashing” with a lacrosse ball, a two minute dynamic warm up, 5 minutes of strength that hit the four universal movements every coach can agree need to be in a program. Those four main movements (notice I said movement not muscle)  being push/pull/hip-hinge/squat. After strength a 4 minute HIIT cardio session and a 1 minute cool down.

If you don’t have access to a coach, what I just outlined above makes for a great starter program. Of course paired with some individual tweaks and considerations for your state of health. ” I am not the first person to make this statement, but it bears repeating if you cannot immediately(and easily) identify an exercise’s purpose to your goals it should be removed.