Summer training mindset

Here’s my perspective on summer training for 2021. Picture last year as a garden hose with a kink in it. Picture the water inside the hose as stuff to do. The hose was kinked, and all the stuff to do was stuck inside.

Then, right about the start of this summer, the hose finally unkinked. All the stuff to do rushed forth in a glorious deluge—traveling here, climbing there, camping over yonder, family visiting next weekend, friends coming in town the week after that. Sound familiar?

These days, the littlest thing seems wildly entertaining. I had a margarita in a bar last week and felt like a king in a castle. In a summer as unique as this one, even I am willing to admit that maybe training can take a backseat for a few weeks to allow us the time to catch up on what we’ve been missing.

But what about the progress we’ve made in our training since last spring? I’ve personally seen many people make amazing progress in their training during the last 18 months. I’ve seen people work hard and crack through to the next level. It would be a shame to have to re-do all of that work.

So on the one hand we have this real need to reengage with the world and the people in it, and that takes up a lot of time. On the other hand, time marches on, and we feel a responsibility to not throw away the progress we’ve made. Spend time with people or spend time in the gym—which one to choose?

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose. One of the great lessons you can learn from working with a coach is this: real training is cyclical. You have phases of training for building and phases for maintenance. Now may be the time for maintenance.

Summer Maintenance Template

 “Plurality should not be posited without necessity.”

—William of Ockham

Below is a general outline of a 2 x per week maintenance program that will take less than an hour, and will ensure that you don’t find yourself rebuilding everything from scratch this winter.

The big thing with maintenance training is this: you need a very short menu of exercises. We’re talking Ockham’s Razor here—as simple as it can get, but no simpler. I will suggest some movements to plug into the plan, but if you have goals with particular exercises, feel free to insert them in the proper spot. Pick ONE movement for each category, and study the movements for the rest of the summer.

The Menu

Movement Pattern Exercise Reps Per Set
Push Kettlebell Press 3-5
Hinge Kettlebell Swing 5-10
Pull Pullup 3-5
Squat Double Kettlebell Front Squat 3-5
Core Turkish Getup 1 per side


The Plan

Pick ONE exercise from each category.
Train twice per week, with at least 1 rest day in between.
Do the exercises in a big circuit—Press, Swing, Pullup, Front Squat, Getup.
Do 3-5 circuits. Rest however long you want to in between exercises.
Always leave at least 2 reps in the tank—this is a maintenance plan!
If you find that you can easily complete the higher end of the rep range with a given weight, try the next weight up and keep toward the lower end of the rep range. But don’t worry about driving up the weight right now.


Here’s the great thing about a maintenance plan: you get the opportunity to practice the movements. Yes, I talk about this a lot.

When you take a moment to quit worrying about the weight, you learn some interesting things.

You learn that if you focus hard enough on the details, a light(ish) weight feels a lot heavier than it does when you’re feeding your ego with histrionics.

You learn that maybe you were overlooking some details in the name of self-flagellation.

You learn that you have things to learn. Happens to me all the time.

In a few months, you’ll look up and see snow on the ground. It will be time to train hard again. You will be very pleased with yourself for having taken the time to maintain your levels from the previous winter. This winter, you’ll build upon those levels, aided by the newfound insights gained from studying movement.

Next summer, you’ll already know what to do.