I had the urge to deadlift a few weeks ago and that made me think of Pavel Tsactsouline’s  Power to the People, which was all about the deadlift and the press.

So, deadlifts and presses it is. (primarily)

Both are very powerful exercises that work a lot of your muscles. The deadlifts I have been training every weekday. The behind the neck press only two days per week. Though I’m thinking of doing sets of the regular military press on the other days. Low volume.

I’ve been doing the behind the neck press for about six months now. I have not pushed the weight much at all. But it is increasing the flexibility of my shoulders, and my strength. I’m still cautious with this one. Form has to be perfect and I have to be warmed up.

I’ve written about the benefits of the deadlift before–big exercise, practical, and work a lot of muscles. I think with the deadlift and press you have a pretty good program. Pavel thought so, too. And he’s a smart guy.

I like to throw in two other exercises: Pistols and pull ups. These I do just to keep the motion alive. It’s summer now, so I’m much more active and, in any case, don’t really have the time for much training. When I’m not studying or working, I’m with family, and now that the kids are getting older (this is relative – they are ~3 and ~10 months), it’s much more fun to spend time outdoors with them.

A thing to keep in mind is that Pavel wrote extensive descriptions of exercises. Pages worth of explanation. So, when he said to do just two exercises, this isn’t just willy nilly stuff.

For example, on the deadlift, lower your body to the bar as though you’re legs are springs and you are loading them up. Pavel writes about gripping the bar or the kettlebell as though you want to crush it to dust. He talks about squeezing your sphincter. These aren’t incidental details, it’s the type of details that make it efficient to only focus on a few exercises and get good results.

In any case, well, look. I try to be practical. Am I going to back on slabs of muscle? Am I looking to impress chicks at the beach with my body? Am I fighter? Am I an athlete? The answer to all these questions is no. Do I want to be strong? Yes. Why? Well, strength is its own virtue and reward. Nothing like going to Home Depot and throwing heavy stuff in the cart and then the car without issue. Nothing like bounding up stairs. Nothing like roughing up your kids and having a blast with them because you’re strong and mobile.

So, this simple program is pretty nice. Deadlifts and presses. Here is how it breaks down:

Monday through Friday – deadlift, two sets of 5 – one set a working set, one set a back off set. So, for example today I’ll do 185 for five reps followed by 135 for five reps. And thet’s it. On pressing days, I warm up with a set of 5 with the 36 pound kettlebell and then do 2-3 sets of 5 with 70 pounds in the behind the neck press.

These aren’t earth shattering weights by any stretch of the imagination. But again, I try to be practical: my activities of daily living have yet to exceed my strength level and I’m fairly confident I can tackle most people at the office. And speaking of practical, one thing I’m doing is walking more. Finally. I read an article that talked about productivity and it’s clear that taking breaks at work from mental work makes you more efficient. So, I take breaks and I walk.

I’ll tell ya this, it’s all relative. For about the next three years I’ll be in school and that’ll mean less time for exercise. So, the simple recommendations that folks like Pavel have are really useful in terms of staying strong and mobile on a limited budget of time.