Chad Richards is all about progression.
Start at point A, and when you’ve done your job, move up to point B.
Hence the name of his private North Lawrence gym, Next Level Sports Performance, 644 E. Locust St. He started it in 2005 with the idea of personalized training for every type of person, from those with severe physical limitations to high-level athletes. The idea? Keep each individual constantly moving upward on the fitness scale at his or her own pace.
“I think a lot of people kind of have a standard on what they will train people at and if you don’t meet that standard, tough luck, and that’s usually how you hurt people,” says Richards, who has a bachelor’s in exercise science from Kansas University, as well as training certifications from the USA Weightlifting, National Strength and Conditioning and Poliquin. “(My philosophy) kind of sits within the name of the company. We believe that we can take — and we have taken — people from all different fitness levels and just (give) them the correct progression for what they need.”
It’s no coincidence then, that when he was asked to come up with a three-move workout that Richards chose three moves that are easily customizable to become harder. He suggests three basic moves that are done in a circuit three times. Each of the moves can be modified to be more difficult as you get stronger and more adept at the basics.
To move through the circuit, do a set of reps on each exercise and then repeat, until you’ve gone through each exercise three times total. Richards suggests doing this workout at least once every seven days, if not every five days. He says more advanced exercisers can do it up to three times per week.
And for those of you willing to try this circuit, Richards says form is more important than the number of repetitions you do. He says this is why it’s his practice to give clients a number range rather than a set amount of reps to achieve.
“You want to make sure your form is just perfect,” says Richards, who was constantly checking with the photographer to make sure he captured our model, trainer Matt Scanlon, in the best possible form during our photo shoot. “We always give our clients a rep range. And what that means is if I give you eight to 10, you shoot for eight and once you get to eight with proper form, you can make that decision to got to 9 or 10. Versus just giving you one number, because that doesn’t give you much progression within that movement.
“Those small steps make a big difference.”
Front/ Pistol Squat
Front squat: Standing in front of a chair with feet hip-width apart, lower yourself onto the chair, tap the chair with your bottom and stand back up. Repeat, doing 10 to 12 reps per set, or as many as you can do each set with good form.
Pistol squat: Sitting in the chair and holding something 5 to 10 pounds to counterbalance your weight (Richards suggests a heavy book), raise one leg off the ground and stand up, balancing on the other leg. Switch legs and lower back down, tapping your bottom on the chair before standing back up. You should not rest on the chair. Switch legs and repeat. Alternate legs until you get to 4 to 6 reps on each leg, or as many as you can do with good form.
T Push Up
Beginner: Start in a push-up position with feet shoulder-width apart. Push down and on your way up raise one arm, twisting until it is parallel with the arm holding your weight. You should form a T. Return to the starting position and do the same progression on the other side. Switch back and forth until you get to 8 to 10 reps.
Intermediate: Start in a push-up position with your feet together. Push down and on your way up raise one arm, twisting until it is parallel with the arm holding your weight. Your feet should remain together and end up “stacked” on top of each other with all your weight on the side of your bottom foot. You should form a T. Return to your starting position and repeat with the other side. Your rep range should depend on how many you can do with good form, but Richards suggests a maximum of 8 reps per set.
Advanced: Similar to the second version except that instead of stacking your feet, you’ll raise the top leg, forming an X. Again, only do as many as you can with good form, up to 8 to 10 reps per set.
Two-legged elevated bridge: Lie on the ground with your feet bent and resting on a chair. Keeping your heels on the chair, raise your pelvis up until your body is in a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Slowly lower back down and repeat. Aim for 8 to 10 reps per set.
Single-legged elevated bridge: Similar to the first version, except you’ll do it with only one leg on the chair. You can either raise the leg, or pull it toward your chest to keep it suspended. Aim for as many reps as you can do with good from, up to 8 to 10 reps per set.