Breaking the Rules

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Editors Note: This is a contribution from Danny McLarty a certified strength and conditioning coach.

I’m a law-abiding citizen.  I realize that rules are put in place for a reason – without rules there would be chaos.  But now and then, it is perfectly fine to break a few rules.  When it comes to training, the rules made by the fitness gurus are no different – there is a time a place to take these rules, and throw them out the window.

Always Train Full Body When Time Is Limited… Right?

I’m not going to get into the whole, full body vs body part split debate, in today’s article.  Both have their potential pros and cons.  What I do want to talk about, is the rule that when time is limited, full body is always our best choice.  Everyone “knows” this to be true.

I structure the majority of my busy client’s programs with a full body set-up.  And at times when I’m extra busy, I usually jump into a full body training block.   But recently, at a time when my life is crazier than ever, I decided to break the rules, and go with a body part split, even know I was “supposed” to be using a full body routine.

My wife and I recently had twins.  Not easy!  Logic would tell us that with limited availability, full body training would make the most sense.  But after a couple nights of no sleep, there is NO WAY ON EARTH that I was going to muster up the energy to get even a half-way decent session in.

So I decided to write up my program based on frequent, yet brief workouts.  I just finished my four-week training block and it worked out great!   Each session lasted me 20-25 minutes.   Going into work with no sleep, followed by back-to-back training sessions, and then going into a full body training session just wasn’t going to happen.  BUT, going into a back + triceps (for example) 20-minute session was definitely doable!  With this set-up, I lifted 4-5 times per week, and didn’t miss workouts.

I want to reiterate, in life and in the gym, rules (even if some of them are unwritten rules) are there for a reason – usually for very good reason.  But don’t be a slave to weight room rules.  Use your head, consider your situation, and from time to time be a rebel.  Don’t be afraid to break a rule or two, your body and mind may just end up thanking you in the end 

P.S. Some rules you NEVER break.  For instance, if you didn’t already know, I want to make you aware of a few rules that if broken, will land you in jail for life…

#1) Showing up to the gym in jeans and construction boots (especially on squat day)

#2) If you are a grown man and can’t perform a single push-up, it is illegal to talk about advanced periodization schemes.   Seriously, don’t even mention the P word!

#3) You can not wear, and talk on your blue tooth during sets. A couple states (Arkansas and Montana I believe) are even considering passing a bill that would send guilty offenders directly to the electric chair.

What “rules” have you broken in the past that ended up paying off for you?  Let me know, I want to hear some good ones!

Danny McLarty has been a Fitness Coach for over 10 years. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (CSCS) and Planned Periodization Specialist (PPS through Tudor Bompa).  Danny is also a Basketball Skills Coach and earned a place in the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame for his high school and college career while standing at a height of 5’7″.  You can learn more about Danny at his website You can also follow him on twitter here…..


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