Simple – 100 Reps

tn_220K1654-2The Internet is awash with programs, systems, methods and protocols all designed to help the average person lose weight, build muscle, increase endurance and become leaner, meaner and all round better.

So what’s the problem?

Why do so many people fail to make even a modest dent in their fitness goals. Why do so many people start out all fired up only to fall off the wagon and go lie on the couch? Between, work, school runs, childcare, meetings, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, bed time stories and the latest episode of 24 we can find our efforts easily derailled. We make a commitment to get fit and as soon as that commitment is undermined it becomes a stick we use to beat ourselves. Soon enough it’s easier to quietly ignore your nice new running shoes, the skipping rope hanging over the exercise bike sitting next to that kettlebell you kept going on about at Christmas. You’ll get back to those soon enough, when the weather gets better, that new work project is finished and you catch up on your sleep. Wakey, wakey. Your excuses fool no-one, least of all you.

Progress is a series of small steps. Small steps, that in time, cover a great distance. We get stronger incrementally, lose weight gradually, regain health, movement and wellness one rep, one workout, one day at a time. So a little bump on the road to fitness is just that, you stalled, it happens, that’s life. The journey continues. Buckle up.

This is important. You need to understand that missing a day, or a week does not somehow negate all your previous efforts. You earn your health and well being over time. You also need to realise that the sooner you get back in the driving seat the better.

“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.” – Mary Pickford

I have a simple solution. A solution that requires regular sub maximal effort but establishes the foundation you need to tmake more profound challenges. A solution that will provide you with a base line level of fitness that will support all the other efforts you make.

The confidence you will develop both physically and mentally from performing this routine can provide all the inspiration you need to re-invigorate the simple joy of moving with freedom and energy.

As a society we have lost the simple daily physical tasks that would normally make significant inroads to the calories we consume. This is compounded by easy access to the empty convenience foods we eat. Our obsession with time segments our day into a series of pedestrian activities and as soon as we stray from the norm everything falls apart. We are losing the ability to think spontaneously and creatively when it comes to our well being. To improvise and enjoy the effort. Not everything in life is plug and play, bullet pointed or ready to eat.

So here it is – you will replace your great-grandparents daily physical efforts – chopping wood, drawing water, picking fruit, chasing dinner by completing One Hundred repetitions of the activity of your choice, every day. That’s Seven Hundred reps a week. Simple. Those reps can be divided across as few or many drills as you want. For example you might choose to do 100 straight Hindu squats. If that’s too much of a challenge you can break them into four sets of 25. There you go – 100 reps. Alternatively you might perform 20 push ups followed by 5 pull ups and repeat for four rounds. A total of 80 push ups and 20 pull ups. 100 reps. Over the course of a week, with those two exercises alone you could perform 560 push ups and 140 pull ups. Can you imagine how that might impact your well being.

For a real challenge you can bang out 100 straight swings with the KB of your choice. Or really stir things up with a combination lift of 5 moves for 5 reps and do four cycles. 100 reps. Or how about 5 push ups, 5 chins, 5 burpess, 5 body weight squats for 5 rounds. 100 reps.

Consider whole body moves for your 100 Reps. Look to engage the “Go!” muscles the big muscles that move you from A to B, not the “Show” muscles,bicep curls wont cut it. Think of what Paul Chek refers to as Primal Patterns – Pushing, Pulling, Bending, Squatting, Lunging & Twisting. These are exactly the types of movement we want to replicate with our 100 Reps.

This is not meant to replace any other physical activity you perform. 100 reps should be thought of as NEPA. Non Exercise Physical Activity. Why? Because you’re probably not getting any! This is base line activity. This is the minimum you should do. If you are currently training regularly you might choose not to do 100 Reps on existing training days. This should only apply if you are currently performing, regular, structured strength training. Aerobic activity does not count.

Remember, we are looking to engage as many muscles here as possible. Once that base is established and the habit formed, upping the intensity will start to look like fun. As for rest between sets, as little as possible should be rule of thumb in the early stages.

You need to remember that the only real prescription here is 100 Reps. You can break these up as you see fit. Some days you might split the 100 up across the whole day. The following day you might go hard, 100 snatches.

Simply keep a record of each workout, an A4 sheet with 5 bar gates is enough to keep you on track. After a week or two get a stop watch and after every 100 reps record the time it took to complete. This is important because when you are ready to increase the intensity the easiest way is to beat your time on previous sessions.

One of the first things you’ll notice is just how quickly you can do 100 reps. Once you establish that you can do “a little often” it becomes easier to up the intensity. You have three variables. The drill ie: push-ups can be made more challenging using different progressions, adding weight (though this is only relevant for drills using a load) and training for time.

Time is the simplest way to manipulate your 100 Reps. After your initial workouts, once you are timing your sessions, you can start to decrease the rest periods between sets. This is where one of the simplest yet most effective tools out there comes into play. The Gymboss is your very own training partner. The Gym Boss dual timer allows you to set a work period and rest period and beeps as each round elapses.

If the rest periods are tight you are simple going to look to increase the speed with which you perform the drill.

You can of course look at adding weight where that is a variable. And most drills and moves are scalable. A little imagination can make the simplest move more challenging.

At some point you will find that you get diminishing returns, you are just so good at banging out 100 Reps on some drills that you need to change things round. (Just remember, this is foundation work).

Having nailed the above you can look at swapping Reps for Time or adding load. But that is a whole other method.

It’s not difficult to come up with different rep schemes to keep things fresh and if you have a pull up bar you can mix things up quite easily.

Consider the following as a start…

25/15/10 x 2
5/10/15/20 x 2
2/4/6/8 x5

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About Rannoch Donald 6 Articles

Beginners Mind – Beginners Body

My name is Rannoch,(founder of Simple Strength – Beginner’s Mind, Beginner’s Body) a movement maverick with a lifetime’s interest in martial arts, movement, mindfulness, conditioning, strength, mobility and recovery which has led to a sustainable personal practice based on resiliency. I write about the things that interest me and the training and practice that reflects it. If it works for me it might just work for you. But ultimately, this is my own personal, ever evolving experiment. You need to find what works for you and share that with everyone. I am not a big fan of putting results and outcomes in the hands of others. No one can do the work for you, we all have access to the same basic tools, it’s up to each of us to get on with the process.

Science explains, Art expresses, Simple Strength attempts to create a bridge between the two. Only direct experience can show you what works.

My influences are broad and diverse, from East to West, high culture and low brow, hopefully keeping things free from dogma and kool aid. Please contribute, comment or email me on any of the above. We are all students, we are all teachers. If you have something you’d like to share on the blog just let me know.

As Scotland’s first RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge Instructor) I certified under Pavel Tsatsouline. My training took a radical turn when I had the good fortune to meet and work with Steve Cotter and Ken Balckburn from the IKFF, going to certify as an IKFF CKT Level 1 & Level 2 Fitness & Movement Dynamics and Kettlebell Teacher. Since then I have had the honour of learning some of the world’s best teachers as and coaches, including Pavel Tsatsouline, Steve Cotter, Mike Mahler, Erwan Le Corre, JC Santana, Alvaro Romano, Ken Blackburn, Mark Cheng, Jonathan Lewis and Scott Sonnon, all of whom inform my own training and practice in some way. Simple Strength and Kettlebells Scotland distills my own practices into something simple, scalable and effective to be used by anyone, young and old, men and women, athletes and amateurs alike.

It is a simple model…

Practice – Progression – Performance

Practice leads to progress, progress leads to performance. Performance is a rarefied place we visit now and again. It is the practice and subsequent progress that make performance possible. No one ever spent too much time on the basics and fundamentals, what George Leonard calls “Getting comfortable with the plateau”. Our ability to do simple things well lets us, in the words of Thomas Myers, – “adapt to the demands of our environment with ease and imagination”.

Movement, Mindfulness and Maintenance, that’s the mantra of Simple Strength.

Our workshops and community provide people with the tools and confidence to take charge of their own health and wellbeing, focussing on breath work, mobility, body-weight training, Kettlebells and a variety of challenging yet interesting tools. Simple Strength – For average people looking for exceptional results.

Simple Strength is responsible for the 100 Rep Challenge, a daily resource of training information, tips, drills and articles that encourages all of us, whatever our situation, to get a little movement in our day.

“Rannoch is a passionate fitness expert who has dedicated his life to helping people get physically and mentally fit, strong and healthy. He has explored many fitness, exercise and movement modalities to retain only the most effective and meaningful methods and approach. A top-notch coach who will skillfully and genuinely guide you in achieving your full physical and mental potential.” – Erwan Le Corre, Educator, Teacher and Founder of MovNat –

“Rannoch’s energy, passion, work ethic and community spirit shine a bright light. When you need a teacher to show you the Way of the Kettlebell, look no further ” – Steve Cotter, Director, International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation –

“Rannoch’s approach to improving movement and developing resilience is highly effective. As relevant and valuable to the sedentary man and woman as it is to those we might call “athletic”. A simple,progressive, purposeful, enjoyable, and habit forming approach: to breathe, to move, to explore, to be  mindful, to gain resilience.” – Jonathan Lewis, Director Balance Performance, Movement, Strength & Conditioning Coach –

“In this world of internet experts that have done nothing of substance it is hard to find a man making a difference in his community and in the industry.  I’m happy to have met such a man in Rannoch Donald who brings his decades of experience in martial arts, strength and conditioning, coaching, and business, to his community and to the industry with style and determination. I speak from experience when I say that he’s one of a kind and a true coach and colleague!” – JC Santana – Institute of Human Performance –

“Rannoch Donald is a consummate professional. Simple strength is a great resource for no nonsense training! I recommend it highly, Rannoch is a great trainer that knows exactly how to inspire others and bring out the best in them” – Mike Mahler, author of Live Life Aggressively! What Self-Help Gurus Should Be Telling You –

“Simple Strength pulls away from standard conventional forms of exercise to effective, inspirational training. Rannoch is a man worth listening to” – Douglas jay, Fitness/rehab supervisor –

“Rannoch phoned me within minutes of emailing him out of the blue 5 years ago. I was in a plateau with training, mobility and thought processes to reach these goals. I was looking for something different but achievable.Something I could grasp , enjoy and use whilst teaching physical eduction. I must say Rannoch provided this – and more! Now a close friend and someone who I have no hesitation in contacting for some wisdom and well placed advice. If Rannoch doesn’t know, he knows someone who does!” – David Jenkins – Director / Owner Sports Therapy Scotland Ltd –

“I went to see Rannoch to learn how to use Kettlebells as they were totally new to me. What I quickly realised was mobility was what I really needed to work on first. What you think you want to do is not always what you really need to be doing. I found this personalised approach really good for me and a refreshing change. I wish more people in the Industry were like Rannoch. Thanks for your help!” – Scott Taverner – Former All Natural Body Builder


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