How to Build Your Own Workout's just so...basic...

“Basic” you hear it and cringe.

“Basic” images of Uggs, North Face, and pumpkin spice lattes are conjured in your mind.

What I am trying to say here is “basic” has gotten a bad reputation. And while I value uniqueness, boldness, and a rebellious spirit, when it comes to working out I am a firm believer in basic.

There is so much information out there on what to do and how to do it that it can make your head spin. And when sitting down to write yourself up a workout, it can get really easy to overcomplicate the process and worry that to get your desired results you should be doing stuff that involves burpee backflips, muscle ups, and 40” box jumps

Is it impressive? Eh...I will let you be the judge of that.

Is it necessary to get strong, healthy, and in shape? Absolutely not.

So this week’s newsletter we are celebrating the power of basic, how it can be used to reach your goals, and why you might move beyond it.


The Main Movements

When you think about your body and your workouts, know that while there are hundreds of different exercises, there are really only a few basic movements the human body is capable of doing during an exercise.

  • -Horizontal Push/Pull

  • -Vertical Push/Pull

  • -Knee Dominant

  • -Hip Dominant

  • And if you want to get a little fancy…

  • -stability/antirotation

  • -power

  • -agility

This is important to know for 3 main reasons

  1. Any weight training program should be comprised of exercises from all of the above movement patterns (the fancy ones being thought of as icing to a far more important basic “cake”)

  2. Even if you are splitting your workouts up by body part, you should be combining these patterns to build a well rounded program and enjoyable workout.

  3. Preventing injuries. Say you want to work on your back, so you add in all the pulling movements under the sun. You forgot about pushing. Before you know it you have yourself some unbalanced shoulders and hence, an injury. For every push-a pull. For every flexion- an extension.

Learn to love Basic

The most basic movements that live under, and most obviously define each category are the following:


Knee dominant-squat

Hip Dominant-deadlift

Horizontal Push-Chest Press

Horizontal Pull-Bent over row

Vertical Push-Shoulder press

Vertical Pull-pull up-or pull down

There are TONS of other movements that live under these categories-these are the ones I believe you should perfect first before moving on to other variations. If you perfect these first, both your body and your mind will be able to make sense of every other movement thrown at it because of the basic baseline you have given it and the rules you know apply to each one will transfer over. I was a terrible math student in school, but I am pretty sure they teach you addition and subtraction before advanced calc.

Does basic work?


YES. Just because something is a baseline movement, or a basic movement pattern, it does not make it any less challenging, and it will not deliver any lesser results. You do not need to do a crazy workout with unnameable movements to get to where you want to be.

Even if you kept the above mentioned movements as your workout program (let’s say doing it twice a week for 3 weeks) you would still get stronger, healthier, and change your body. And after those 3 weeks? You could periodically change your frequency, load, tempo, volume, or other variables to continuously challenge yourself, your body, and keep results going.

Beyond Basic

So why do other exercises even exist!?

Because we are human! We crave progress. We want to know what comes next when we get good at something. We want to combine things and see what happens. We want to stand on one leg, do the same thing, and see how it goes. We want to be pushed outside of our comfort zone so we can continue to grow and thrive! We get bored!

I support this fully, and as someone who follows 4 week programs built of mostly very basic exercises- I get it! But know that every movement beyond these are only progressions or variations OF THE BASIC. Those “crazy” movements I mentioned in the beginning? Knee dominant movements, hip hinges, and pushes-maybe with a little added power (and a little too much ego).

But hey, variety is the spice of life, and to keep yourself involved, excited, and motivated, variation can and should be added. But know that one day these movements will feel “basic” to you too. And in no way does that mean that they have “stopped working.”

And with that I present to you the pick your own adventure workout, titled:
 “basic to not so basic, but also grown from the basics” 
total body workout. 


I hope you start to notice a theme, and see that when you think about it-it all comes back to basics!

HOW TO:   Pick 1-2 movements in category. Do 3 sets of each movement, using your existing knowledge of rep ranges (shoutout to newsletter 001!!) to pick your reps of each. 

Knee Dominant:
Reverse lunge
Step up
Single leg squat

Hip Hinge:
Single leg deadlift
Kettlebell swing

Horizontal Push:
Bench press
Push up
Dead bug press
Decline press

Horizontal Pull:
Bentover row
Seated Cable row
Pendlay row
Sled pull

Vertical Push:
Shoulder press
Bottoms up press
Push press
Seesaw press

Vertical Pull:
Pull up
Pull down
Rope climb
Single arm cable row

Box jump

Rae ReichlinComment