What the hell is your training like Raj?

OK… by now I’m sure you all know what the hell I eat (and if you don’t, I suggest you join this group right now). Here is something to answer ‘what the hell does your training look like?’.

Warm-up set @ Gold’s Gym

Read my posts on how to look awesome naked (here and here) and you’ll notice that the exercises I recommend are very basic. I happen to be a huge fan of folks like Dan John, Jason Ferruggia and Chad Waterbury who are big proponents of the old school minimalistic training approach. In addition to keeping things sane and simple, I can guarantee you that this approach will make you stronger, faster, leaner and bigger!

So what the hell does my training look like?

Enough blah blah. Here is what I did at the gym today.


  • 500 m row (80% effort)
  • 20-30 push-ups
  • 10-15 pull-ups
  • 30-40 squats
  • 20-30 leg swings
  • 5-6 broad jumps
  • Mobility work

* Time: ~ 10 min


  • Front Squats – 2-4 warm-up sets
  • Front Squat – 3 work sets (Reverse pyramid style)
  • Dumbbell Chest Press – 2-4 warm-up sets
  • Dumbbell Chest Press – 3 sets (Reverse pyramid style)
  • Weighted Inverted Rows – 3 sets (Pyramid style)
  • Core (Knees to elbows, plank etc.) – 3 sets
  • Bicep Curls – 1 set
  • Tricep Dip Pushdowns – 1 set

* Time: 35-40 min


  • Hams, glutes, quads, pecs, lats, lower back

* Time: 5-8 min

* Total workout time ~ 50 min

As you can see, 90% of my time and effort today went towards the big compound lifts (front squats, dumbbell presses and inverted rows). The core and arm workouts were fillers at best, giving me something to do while I’m resting my prime movers.

Effectiveness and efficiency being my main focus in each session, all my strength workouts are similar in design.

  • Walk out of the locker room and hit the rower at about 80% effort.
  • Head straight to the squat rack and set-up.
  • Full body warm-up and mobility.
  • Squat/Deadlift/Clean – Hardest set of the day.
  • Upper body pulls and pushes.
  • Finish up with core/arm/forearm training.

Why big compound lifts right at the start?

Why even do core and arm exercises?

  • Sensible volume of direct arm/core work performed as a part of a good training routine is beneficial in a multitude of ways.
  • Direct arm/core work performed after compound lifts does not hinder progress in any way.
  • In addition to getting strong, I tend to care about how I look.

So next time you go to the gym, remember to start at the squat rack and end at the dumbbell rack.

What about rest days?

I don’t have rest days per se. I strength train 2-4 days a week and like to stay active during the other days. Hence my rest is always ‘active rest’.

So on days that I don’t strength train, I walk a bunch (say 3-5 miles) and get some sun with the lady and the critter or do some sprints (10-20 sec all out efforts) or yoga or some skill training (headstands, handstands, mobility focus etc.).

Note: Though I don’t have any traditional rest days, I’m very particular about what activities I do on my non-training days and never do anything that may hinder  progress.

Well, that sums up my training. What does yours look like? Share it in the comments section so we can learn from each other.

Stay strong!

23 responses to “What the hell is your training like Raj?

  1. Arvind Ashok March 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Uh huh. So, you are one of those guys that take the squatting in a squat rack literally! Occupying the space for 30 minutes and don’t let me do my awesome quarter-squats.
    Could you elaborate on what you mean by ‘active rest’, and what the difference/ is between that and lying on the couch and actually resting?

    • RG March 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm


      Active rest – resting your CNS and the muscles that were beat up, while still staying active. the result of this is complete recovery of CNS and prime movers that were over loaded previously. some good options are walking, low intensity elliptical (if you like reading), an extended warmup, practicing technique in lifts you suck at (using light weights).

  2. Meera March 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Can’t you start a discussion group for work-outs too? 🙂

  3. Soundarya March 16, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Interesting Raj. Why is this minimalistic but effective routine not practiced in India? Any gym when you ask a tough and effective routine it starts with 15mins treadmill, 15 mins efx,10 mins cycle and then a bunch of weights concentrating on two muscles and 3/2 sets of atleast 15 reps. and then some abs which will take atleast and hour and half to finish. if its been proved that this kind of a high intensity and short interval programs are so effective why aren’t gyms/trainers here adopting it?!!I dont get it.

    Active rest days are good. a sport with friends/swim or whatever makes me go back to the gym more enthusiastically!

    btw today my workout was a 12 km run.

    and also why r women seriously discouraged from lifting heavy weights even for less reps!?? in my new gym the trainer keeps trying to dissuade me to go anywhere over 5 kg!!! she asked me ‘do u want to be a body builder’:) if it was that easy wouldn’t every second guy have Arnold size arms or somethings!! why is this misconception also never ever changed i wonder!!

    To conclude Come to India:))

    • RG March 16, 2011 at 9:23 pm


      I understand your frustration. It is ridiculous that trainers (in India and elsewhere) don’t embrace these techniques. But there are reasons for that. If a gym promotes such training, that means the machines in the gym (which cost a tonne of money btw) will go unused… and will also mean that the trainers hired by the gym need to be well qualified to be able to teach the lifts effectively… which is unfortunately never the case.

      I’ll write more about this in a post dedicated to deconstructing the BS workout programs provided in most commercial gyms.

      • Shubha March 18, 2011 at 9:16 am

        I have the same query as Soundarya…. What about including treadmill, elliptical and Cycle? I love working out on a stepper or elliptical….how can I add that to my workout?

        My normal schedule in a Gym :

        Warm up : 15 mins total
        stretches – arms, neck, back
        place jog for 5 mins,
        waist twist…with support of a wall,
        hamstring stretch
        arm and leg swing.

        Workout :
        elliptical – 20 mins
        Leg press machine – 130 lbs (12 reps -2 sets)
        Stationary cycle – 10 mins
        Leg curl /hamstring curl (dont know if thats what they call that machine ) – 12 reps (2 sets)
        treadmill – 30 mins (I do walk at 3.8 with inclination of 4… If I am workout for a good amount of time… I have done better..:P)
        chest press, Ab abductions, arms exercises (over the head bar thing… dont know what its called)

        Cool down… Savaasan

        I do this normally in the morning after a coffee or so.

        I also do Jillian Micheal 30 day shred and other videos. I did it for a whole month and i felt so good doing them. But then I left it being lazy. Should start it again….

        I used to do that in the evening.. Do u reccoment JM workouts? wtas ur opinion about them?

        Also…My apt gym doesnt have a squat rack or a row machine…. So what should I start my exercises with? Can I start with weights(dumbells) and the leg press machine? I am also almost a starter…(n asthamatic) so it somehow always get difficult for me to run on a treadmill or outside for more than 1 min or 2…i get breathless….(I know not a good sign for a 29 yr old :(…) I guess my endurance there will increase gradually right?

  4. Hynek March 16, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    I wish I could even finish your warm up. 🙂

    • RG March 17, 2011 at 7:46 am

      you can.. try it. i have clients starting off not being able to do a single pushup.. and in a few weeks theres sparks flying!

      • Hynek March 19, 2011 at 3:45 am

        Once I did this 100 pushups challenge and got till 40, my biggest issue are still pullups. After months and months of training I manage to do 3 when I’m really fit. Otherwise I’m happy about making 2. I tried doing negatives and stuff and still no advance. I went on to do the Primal Fitness Blueprint but except being totally trashed afterward, I don’t see much progress. 😦

      • RG March 20, 2011 at 1:44 am

        Shoot me an email. We’ll fix your pullups.

  5. Lavanya March 17, 2011 at 2:15 am

    How about a post for the non-gymmers?

    • RG March 17, 2011 at 7:46 am

      look at the bodyweight and dumbbell workouts I’ve previously posted. this is just putting my current training out there.

  6. RB March 17, 2011 at 8:03 am

    How about Yoga for mental fitness/ strength

  7. Arunima March 17, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Hi Raj,
    I recently came across your blog and paleo living. I am going to start changing my eating by transitioning first and am dragging my husband along too :). I started working out 7 years back to lose weight and was successful in the beginning but after that I stalled and I thought I did not know how to better my workout – hired a trainer and still not much effect – trainer kept insisting I eat more and add more protein but I kept thinking I was eating enough. Not sure what the reason was but I could just maintain and not lose anymore . Then I got pregnant and kept working out but after the baby I have not been able to work out and hence lost most muscle gain. I am hoping the change in eating and starting with slow workouts will get me started.
    My husband on the other hand has never worked out and has high BP and cholesterol. So hoping this will help him too.

    Thanks for the wonderful resource and your FB group. Shall keep you updated on how it goes for us.
    Had a few questions on being gluten free though – is rice better than whole wheat( aata) ? How about Quino and buckwheat ?
    We dont like the taste of coconut oil – so whats the other option for sauteing ?
    And whats the limit on fruits intake ?

    Thanks much and sorry for the long comment.

    • RG March 17, 2011 at 6:48 pm

      Thank you Arunima.

      Rice > wheat.
      Quinoa & buckwheat are similar to other grains wrt anti nutrients and need pre-soaking.
      Butter for sauteing. Or olive oil at low heat.
      1/2-1 cup a day when fat loss is the goal.

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  12. prashant December 28, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    hi raj!

    problem is….the warm up of your own training schedule pretty much matches the “workout” phase of non-gymmers(i’m one)…
    for non-gymmers what can be done in the “workout” phase of the training? just the same exercises with more reps?
    p.s- just in case u needed this info to answer….lets say im an intermediate trainer….definitely not a beginner

    thanks! 🙂

    and yes….some your workouts are addictive killers 😉

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