Training Economy: Stimulate it

You have only so much time, energy, and focus to put in work needed to reach goals and doing thousands of exercises doesn’t make sense.  Say you want to work on core stability but you need to build your upper back up too.  You also find that your grip is severely limiting your deadlifting progress.  Moreover, your posture is horrendous.  You know what, let’s put laser cannons on these sharks! You also don’t have much energy after your primary compound exercise and secondary, supplementary one.  How many exercises do you need?  How do you balance all these weaknesses?  Training economy.

Be Mindful of Training Economy

It’s in this situation that the phrase, training economy, comes to play.  Quality of training sessions is paramount.  You need to not just put in the work.  You need to put in quality work.  You have to think, “Are the number of exercises and volume that I’m doing, a level that I can sustain with a high level of quality?”  Or is the reality that you’re going to get gassed and cross off all these exercises because it turns out that it’s too much work?

Use exercises that stress multiple weaknesses

We can be respectful of the training economy (the level of quality work that you can sustain), by choosing exercises that cover multiple weak points.  This way, when we go about that exercise, we can focus on quality reps.  We can do so with the awareness that we don’t need to sustain the energy for another several sets on another exercise afterwards.  The stimulus is focused on as few exercises as possible to maximize quality of effort.

Now, you may very well want to specialize, focusing on one key area and hitting it from all angles.  As Louie Simmons would say, “Leave no stone unturned.”  However, you cannot specialize on everything.  That’s not specialization anymore; its focusing on everything while progressing on nothing.  Taking the aforementioned approach is disrespectful to training economy.  By ignoring training economy you cause: hyperinflation to occur, devaluing each rep more than the German mark, Post-WW1, and you will be scrounging dozens of useless reps in the pursuit of making progress.

training economy
So many useless reps

Bring back the value of your workouts and the importance of each repetition through choosing exercises that effectively overlap multiple weaknesses.  This allows you to manipulate to a far greater degree the different training stimuli that you have at your disposal.  You can do more volume, work with a higher intensity, and you can put a more potent stress on your neuromuscular physiology.

From the scenario in the introduction, a great stimulus package to your training economy would be weighted carries.  From farmer’s walks, goblet carries, to suitcase carries, to overhead loaded suitcase carries, the weighted carry is a versatile tool.  Hell, some good ol’ weighted carries could have saved us from the 2008 recession too.

Carries stimulate training economy through diversity

The weighted carry can challenge core stability, efficiently walking with a load, and grip work as well.  You can overload the exercise in the farmer’s walk variation to focus on grip strength.  You can also drop the weight down and work on maintaining excellent spinal and hip positioning, correcting prominent imbalances like anterior pelvic tilt.  Thoracic spine stability can be challenged through anteriorly loaded carries like the Goblet Carry.  Hell, combine a suitcase deadlift with either a 90-90 carry or overhead waiters carry to work on resisting lateral flexion and building shoulder stability.

Weighted Carries are an Excellent Time saver

Hitting a set of farmer’s walks, after doing your main and secondary movements for a session, leaves you free to move on from your workout.  You get unilateral work in with the legs, you challenge posture under load, and you build traps, erectors and several other upper back muscles for posture.  What more do you want?

Give them a Shot

Take six weeks to try out a variation or a few variations of weighted carries.  Take the time to reflect on unnecessary overlap within your training program.  Are you covering all your bases with the fewest number of exercises?

The reality is that, in order to progress, you will eventually need to add more.  You might as well start with the lowest stimulus necessary to create a response.  Otherwise you’ll be spending more time than you wanted to in order to make progress.  Don’t overburden the training economy, don’t give an excuse for hyperinflation, devaluing the quality of work you do.

Because even though both quality and quantity are important, its quality that should supersede quantity.

Further Resources

Dean Sommerset Advanced Core Training Seminar