Who didn’t want to be a rock star?
Sold out tours, platinum albums, and all the sex, drugs, and Rock n Roll you can handle. Until like the greats before you, you find yourself walking into rehab and getting chummy with Dr. Drew.
In high school, all I ever wanted (besides a girlfriend) was to learn how to play guitar. I thought if I learned how to play guitar I could turn all my teenage angst into song and maybe, just maybe, move up the attraction scale with the ladies.
How was I going to slide up this scale? Well, first I needed to become friends with guys who played guitar. Then, I assumed, by the simple act of ocular osmosis I’d learn the skills necessary to become a rock star.
I constantly picked my friend’s brains, trying to discover the secret to their skills. And each time I asked, “how do I learn to play the guitar like you?,” I received the same response.
All you need to do is learn G, C, and D, and you can play almost any song ever written.
That’s all it took? Three chords and I could be a rock star?
Bullshit, there’s no way that those three chords could be the foundation for thousands of songs. We’re talking about some of the biggest musicians of all time. It seemed blasphemous to say that the gods of Rock n Roll restrained themselves to three (mortal) chords to record their heavenly hymns.
There had to be more to their iconic music, right?
My friends weren’t playing three chords. And I knew my favorite bands at the time weren’t using G, C, and D either.
A part of me wondered if maybe my friends didn’t want to let me in on their little secret. Like they didn’t want me to learn how to play guitar at all. Because, what if I became better than them?
What if I became the next great rock star?
Oh, how the tables have turned.
Now, like my friends long ago, I get asked the question, “how do I ____?”
- What’s the best exercise for fat loss?
- How do I lose the fat around my belly?
- How do I gain more muscle?
- How did you do it?
And my response to most of these questions?
Over the last four years, I’ve followed the basics — I’ve mastered playing G, C, and D.
The G, C, and D of Fat Loss & Strength Training
Robbie, how do I increase my strength or gain muscle? What’s the best exercise(s) for growing my legs/chest/back/arms/etc?
Improving your health/fitness feels complicated, right? If you Google anything involving nutrition or exercise, you’ll get millions of results. And each result could tell you something different.
Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but I’m going to tell you the same secret my friends told me about learning guitar: you don’t need to complicate things; stick with the basics.
When it comes to increasing strength, adding lean muscle, or shredding away body fat, all you need are these five movements.
- Press (Bench or Overhead)
- Hip Hinge
- Loaded Carry
When it comes to squats, keep it simple. Start with your body weight or grab a dumbbell and perform goblet squats. Once you’ve mastered goblet squats, then you can advance to barbell back squats or front squats. Your goal at first should be to get so good at squatting that you can do it in your sleep.
You have three options here:
Inflate your ego and brag to other guys === > Bench Press
Create a pair of pecs that pop off your chest === > Incline Bench Press
Lift objects over your head like an angry Tusken Raider === > Overhead Press
If you don’t care about getting in touch with your inner “bro,” overhead pressing carries over a bit more to your everyday life than bench pressing. Just depends on your goal(s).
Dumbbell rows, barbell rows, pull-ups, chin-ups, seated cable rows, all of these are perfect for building a stronger and more chiseled back. I’ll add one more to this list, and it’s my favorite because it hits your back and forces your abs to engage as well.
And who doesn’t want to work their abs a bit more?
For beginners who aren’t used to using their hips, the hip hinge can be intimidating at first.
As a society, we’ve become far too sedentary. We sit at work, in our cars, and then we sit even more once we get home and binge Netflix or play video games.
Sitting too much causes our glutes and hamstrings to weaken. To make matters worse, according to one study people who sit for more than 6 hours a day knock around 15 years off their life. So, sitting is killing you.
Plus, when your glutes become weakened, your low back compensates. That means the more you sit, the more likely you are to experience low back pain.
To correct this, not only should you stand more often, but you need to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings.
When it comes to strengthening the hamstrings and glutes, go with Deadlifts, Romanian Deadlifts, Kettlebell swings, hip thrusts, or my favorite the Cable Pull-Through.
These are as easy as A, B, C, 1,2,3.
Grab the heaviest weight you can hold and walk as far as you can with said weight.
You’ll get the greatest benefit out of loaded carries when you maintain an erect posture (chest high, shoulders back) while you carry the weight. As you trudge around the gym, you’ll use every muscle in your body and shift your metabolism into overdrive.
I write a lot about fat loss. But that’s what my clients want. And like my friends who tried to tell me there’s no secret to playing the guitar, there’s also no secret to losing fat either. Well, except that to lose body fat, you have to burn more calories than you consume.
It’s that simple.
You don’t need body wraps, juice cleanses, or bullshit pink-packaged products promoting overnight weight loss. If you want to lose body fat: eat less and move your body more.
Don’t know how much you’re eating in a day?
That’s probably the reason why you’re not losing weight. Numerous studies over the years have shown that people who track what they eat via a food journal or in an app like MyFitnessPal are twice as likely to succeed at losing weight.
So how many calories do you need to eat each day?
The truth is, every “body” is different. The amount of lean muscle mass you carry, your height, how active you are, and your age are all factors that change your daily calorie requirement.
Here’s an easy way to determine a baseline starting point.
Take your ideal body weight. If you’re a woman, multiply by 11. If you’re a man, multiply by 12. The number you see is a good starting point for fat loss.
Again, that number is only a baseline and over time you may need to adjust it slightly. So keep that in mind.
It’s the base of almost all of AC/DC’s fist pumping, foot stomping rock anthems: the D chord. And if there’s one rock band that can claim long-term success, it’s AC/DC.
When it comes to long-term success with health or achieving your fitness goals, consider accountability your D chord.
Accountability doesn’t need to take on the negative connotation that so often occurs when mentioned in the corporate world. When you’re held accountable via a coach, your workout partner, or a group of like-minded people, everyone is there to inspire, motivate, and ensure you’re making progress towards your goals.
If you have none of the above, you can find accountability in writing down your workouts. “What’s tracked is managed,” and by tracking your workouts, you’ll have a better sense of your overall physical improvement. And I’ve already mentioned above that studies have shown people who track what they eat are twice as likely to succeed in losing weight.
Whether you have a group of kickass individuals to keep you accountable or you hire a coach, think of accountability as a measuring tape for success, not a ruler to be used for slapping you on the wrist.
How Much Should I Do?
As I got better at guitar, I could read tabs online and play along with the track. But if you asked me to read music, I had no idea how to interrupt the notes on the page.
Hearing the music move made sense to me; I repeated what I heard. And when it comes to creating your own kickass workouts, if you haven’t hired a coach to handle your exercise selection and reps and sets, you might feel a bit lost about where to start.
Now that you know the 5 keys exercise movements you need to focus on, how do you determine how many sets or reps you should perform?
For overall improvement of strength, keep total reps between 20-25. You can break those up into 4 sets of 5 reps, 5 sets of 5 reps, 7 sets of 3 reps, 5 sets of 4 reps, or use a wave loading protocol and slowly increase weight while you decrease reps.
Wave loading would look something like this: 8 reps at 100 pounds, 6 reps at 125 pounds, 4 reps at 140 pounds, and 2 reps at 155 pounds.
You’re still performing 20 reps, but you’re slowly increasing weight as you go, which helps prevent your nervous system from burning out.
What if you want to increase strength but get a little pump?
In this case, stay between 24-32 total reps. That means sticking with the traditional 4 sets of 6 reps, 4 sets of 8 reps, 3 sets of 8 reps, or 3 sets of 10 reps.
Oh wait, you’re looking to get a skin-tight pump, right? You know the kind that Arnold said was better than cumming?
Then, in that case, you need to lower the weight and increase your reps per set.
Aim for 3-4 sets of 12-20 reps. At a low enough weight, and with enough concentration on the muscles you’re working, you’ll have one hell of a pump as you leave the gym.
Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten about loaded carries. Save these bad boys for the end of your workout.
Your options here are to either carry the weight as far as you can 2-3 times. Or, carry the weight for an appointed amount of total steps, like 40 steps per side or 70 total steps. Then repeat those steps for 2-3 sets.
The workout you create, might look something like this:
- Goblet Squats – 4 sets of 8 reps
- Romanian Deadlifts – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Dumbbell Incline Bench – Press 4 sets of 6 reps
- 3-Point Dumbbell Row – 4 sets of 12 reps
- Farmers Carry – 3 sets of 60 total steps
Rest for 60-90 seconds between sets and there you have it: All the tools you need to create your own kickass workouts.
The Final Countdown
Listening to my virtuosic high school friends discuss minor and major keys, diminished chords, pentatonic scales, or diatonic scales was enough to make any aspiring musician want to say, “fuck it, this is too complicated, why bother?”
Spend a little time reading fitness articles, magazines, or watching the news, and you’ll feel the shadow of confusion descend on you as well.
In the end, a relentless focus on the basics is the best way to see long-term success. It took time, but I learned to play G, C, and D. Once I mastered those chords, I was able to add in Am, Em, E, and a janky sounding F chord. At that point, I could play almost any song ever written.
Forget all the flashy movements you see in Crossfit or on YouTube—master the basics—that’s all you need.
If rock stars can make hit songs out of three chords, all you need to create kickass workouts is above.
Hey! So I took my love for music and fitness and combined them into the best fat shredding, muscle building program on Earth. Want to be a VIP and be the first to get their hands on Rock n Roll Fat Loss? Leave your name and email address below and get ready to ROCK.