Home > Program design, training articles, Uncategorized > Groundhog Day Training. Think Bill Murray, or doing the same damn thing all the time.

Groundhog Day Training. Think Bill Murray, or doing the same damn thing all the time.


Groundhog day, the Bill Murray movie, not the actual “holiday” that centers around Punxsutawney Phil, describes most gym goers workouts…… metaphorically speaking that is.


Many people do, the same thing day after day. Basically they heard something, somewhere, and decided that X,Y,Z was the ticket and eventually, if they bang their head into the wall hard enough, a magical switch will take place and they’ll be in great shape all of a sudden.

Never mind that Albert Einstein guy:

Think about it, how many people get on the treadmill everyday and run their ass off, at the same pace, in hopes of a better body but never get anywhere? Or worse that damn elliptical prancing along like a pony?

Trust me on this one, it’s a lot.

Usually here is the scenario. They hear (on TV or in a magazine) they should add some “weight training” and that’s the magic secret. So people start doing some easy (see ridiculously light and ineffective read: useless) exercises (tricep kickbacks, sumo squats with a dumbbell, squats with a physioball ball on the wall or some other jack-assery) convinced that those are what they are looking for and they have found the Willy Wonka Golden ticket.

So they do the same exercises in the same order with the same weight for the same 3 sets of 10 ….and they keep it up until the next insert fitness meme of the moment BIG thing that convinces them otherwise and things don’t change.

This is why so many newbie personal trainers talk about “periodization“…which I covered towards the end of this post, Wired or Tired. The only problem is they follow-up the term periodization with the phrase, “Change it up”…which makes me cry, (and shows you that they have no idea what they are talking about, because just “changing things up” is not the purpose of a periodized program in the first place). But at least they realize that the body adapts to the stress on it and improvement stops.

Think about your program for a minute. When was the last time it changed? How did it change?…Exercises? Reps, Sets, Weight on the bar, Frequency? What changed? Did you work harder in any way? Improve in any way?

Not everything has to change for a new stress to be placed on the body. Look at programs like the Starting Strength, or Bill Starr 5×5. They don’t even change the damn exercises…EVER. But if you do them you get hell-a strong because they do change the weight on the bar and reps completed in a workout with that weight as you progress. These programs essentially self-periodize, as you complete a new level of performance you earn the right to progress to the next…they sure as hell just don’t randomly “change it up” because random programming leads to random results…every time.

Bill Starr, originator of the 5x5

So if you are akin to Bill Murray and can’t seem to get Andie MacDowell to fall in love with you in one day, or for the less initiated among us get in shape, you should pick out some BIG exercises. Things like Squats, Lunges, Deadlifts, Pushups, Pullups, Bench presses etc..Exercises that take lots of muscles working together to complete, and make those the foundation of your program. These are your BIG ROCKS…the most important exercises. Things like bicep curls, triceps extensions, leg extensions (which suck BIG TIME by the way) should be your little rocks, not really that important but you can do them if you want. I totally stole the Big Rocks, Little Rocks thing from Mike Boyle. Focus on the BIG rocks and progressing and things will fall into place.   

Here’s a good beginner progression:

1a) Squat: Stick with same weight until 3 sets of 5 are completed, then add 5 pounds and start again
1b) Pushups: as many as possible per set

2a) Inverted Rows: as many as possible per set
2b) Bulgarian Split Squat: add 2 reps per session until 12 per set are completed. Then change exercise to something similar like a lunge or reverse lunge or add weight and start over at sets of 6 reps.

Planned out it looks like this:

Day 1:
1a) Squat: 3×5 @ 135 (actual 2×5, 1×3)
1b) Pushups: 2x AMAP

2a) Inverted Row: 2x AMAP
2b) BSS: 2×6

Day 2:
1a) Squat: 3×5 @135 (actual 2×5, 1×4)
1b) Pushups: 2x AMAP

2a) Inverted Row: 2x AMAP
2b) BSS: 2×8

Day 3:
1a) Squat: 3×5 @135 (actual 2×5, 1×4)
1b) Pushups: 2x AMAP

2a) Inverted Row: 2x AMAP
2b) BSS: 2×10

Day 4:
1a) Squat: 3×5 @135 (actual 3×5 add 5lbs next time)
1b) Pushups: 2x AMAP

2a) Inverted Row: 2x AMAP
2b) BSS: 2×12

Phase 2:
Day 1:
1a) Squat: 3×5 @140 (actual 1×5, 2×3) LOOK I CHANGED THE WEIGHT!!
1b) Pushups: 2x AMAP

2a) Inverted Row: 2x AMAP
2b) Reverse Lunge: 2×6 LOOK I CHANGED THE EXERCISE!!

Get the picture? Stagnation is bad, change is good, but you don’t need Extreme Makeover every month, just need to get the hell out of Punxsutawney PA.

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