Team ActiveHealth



First time to hit the weights? Designing a resistance training program can sometimes feel like building a complicated puzzle, especially when it’s your first time. Choosing the right exercises can be a struggle for many.


The good thing is that if your goal is improve performance (and not aesthetics), then you’ll only need to KISS (Keep It Simple, Stup*d). This principle focuses on sticking to the basics and mastering it first.


The KISS principle in resistance training has been coined by world-renowned Strength Coach Michael Boyle, MA, ATC. He is the co-founder of the “Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning” (MBSC) in Massachusettes; namely in Woburn, North Andover, and Haverhill. He is also the author of the book “Advances in Functional Training” published last 2010 by On Target Publications, and numerous articles on strength and conditioning especially on the functional training side.

In an interview by, Boyle explained that the KISS principle is as simple as doing something that makes you either push or pull. And should focus more on the legs that usually also activates our core muscles. On top of that, do a few more additional core exercises. And, don’t forget to throw in some foam rolling, mobility, and stretching exercises, too.

In addition, Boyle states on that “individual body-part workouts are inefficient compared with a full-body approach.” So, if the goal is to improve athletic performance (for sports like swimming, biking, running, and others), it is time to kiss those body-building, single-joint, isolation-type exercises goodbye.


Focus on these four main movement patterns in the gym and you’re all set.


  1. Hip Dominant
    1. Bent-leg
      1. Leg curls using a slide board, foam roller, suspension trainer, or stability ball. Once you get the form while doing it on both legs, do 1-leg leg curls. Others call it hamstring curls.
    2. Straight-leg
      1. Slightly bent stiff leg deadlift (also called Romanian deadlift or RDL). Once you get the form while doing it on both legs, do 1-leg RDLs.
  2. Knee Dominant
    1. Double leg
      1. Front squats and sumo squats
    2. Single leg
      1. Split squats
      2. 1-leg squats
      3. Lunges
  3. Horizontal & Vertical Pulling
    1. Horizontal Pull
      1. Rows using a dumbbell cable row and barbell.
      2. You can also do an inverted row using a barbell or a suspension trainer
    2. Vertical Pull
      1. Chin-ups, pull-ups or your cable lat pulldown
  4. Horizontal & Vertical Pushing
    1. Horizontal Push
      1. Variations of both push-ups and dumbbell chest presses
    2. Vertical Push
      1. Overhead presses like shoulder presses or combination movements such as bicep curls to arnold press


These are the fundamental movements that should be in your program. Do not forget to train movements and not muscles.



mage result for repetition range + NSCA


Source: National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
Based on the repetition range table by the NSCA, the higher repetitions (12 to 20) promotes muscular endurance, while fewer repetitions (1-6) promotes strength and power. It is important to note that the weight to be lifted in relation to the intended repetitions is inversely proportional. This means that if want to go 12 to 15 repetitions, the weight that you’ll be lifted will be much lighter than the weight that you’ll be lifting with fewer repetitions.


TIP: Master the movements first, before focusing on the weight. Therefore, go with lighter weights and then work your way up.
QUOTE: “Individual body-part workouts are inefficient compared with a full-body approach.” –Mike Boyle
SMALL QUOTE: “Train movements and not muscles.”


Saul Anthony Sibayan is a faculty member of the Sports Science Department of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Santo Tomas. He got his Master of Sports Science degree through the United States Sports Academy, and underwent a mentorship in Exercise Physiology at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He is also a certified Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is also the founder of Scientific Endurance Coaching Training (SECT), which trains athletes based on data such as power output, pace, and heart rate collected from wearable technology and power meters.