Home Blog Superhero Workout Review: Small Hinges Swing Big Doors

Superhero Workout Review: Small Hinges Swing Big Doors

Written on July 19, 2011 at 10:00 pm, by Eric Cressey

I was reading a book Sunday afternoon, and this sentence really caught my attention:

“Small hinges swing big doors.”

Certainly, this is wildly applicable to just about every aspect of life, but particularly to strength and conditioning programs and nutritional approaches.

All too often, folks think that they need to overhaul what they’re doing because they’re stuck in a rut.  They switch from traditional sets and reps to high-intensity training, go on some fad diet, drop $200 at the supplement store on herbs they can’t pronounce, and buy a pair of “toning” shoes.   In short, instead of using the small hinge, they kick down the damn door.  The end results?

1. a thinner wallet (always)

2. continued poor results (almost always)

3. positive results (rarely), but with no idea which of the changes led to these outcomes

The longer I’m at it, the more I realize that long-term success in strength and conditioning programs is all about understanding how to change the hinges: finding the little things that make the big difference.  Maybe it’s a reduction in training volume or intensity to keep someone from burning out, or switching to a reverse lunge instead of a forward lunge to avoid knee pain.

Case in point, John Romaniello and Matt McGorry recently sent me an advanced copy of their new Superhero Program, so we decided that we’d make it the staff lift at Cressey Performnace, as it looks really solid.  Plus, we’re super busy at CP right now, so it’s nice to be able to “outsource” our own training for the time being.  We aren’t overhauling our diets or supplementation regimens, nor are we introducing a ton of new exercises; in fact, most of the exercises in the program are ones we do on a regular basis at CP (although many will be novel to others).

The program is, however, changing some of the hinges on our doors, particularly in the context of challenging set/rep/tempo protocols and novel fluctuation of training stress from phase-to-phase.  The only things that changed were, in fact, written on a piece of paper – but they got big doors in motion.

There was great energy in the facility today because the guys were excited to try something new.  And, there was more camaraderie among our staff because guys were coaching each other through things and shouting encouragement as we were all “feeling out” the new program.

And, judging from the soreness that’s slowly setting in as I write this roughly 10 hours after the first training session of the program, it’s going to be a fun, challenging, and productive few months on a great program.  No overhaul needed – because small hinges swing big doors.

The next time you find yourself looking to shuffle things up, remember that unless you’re a true beginner doing everything incorrectly, you usually don’t need to change a lot.  Rather, you pick and choose your modifications – or look to a resource like the Superhero program that has the important components in place, but perhaps in a light you hadn’t considered them before.

Click here for more information on Romaniello and McGorry’s Superhero e-book.

*For the record, I’ve never read a comic book, nor do I have any interest in Superhero movies.  Roman and McGorry are geeks, but the program’s sound.

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  • Rick Chafton

    I’ve recently changed up from back squats to what I call eccentric front squats (starting at the bottom) and split squats and flat bench to decline barbell press and incline dumbell presses. I perform stabilization exercises before strength exercises to protect joints. Massive gains! No ridiculous supplements. Just healthy foods and a good training program.

  • Colin Wilson

    That’s the Nerd calling the Geek a geek!…LMAO

  • ray

    I agree Rick, the older I get (now 48) I had to increase reps & decrease the weight (mostly compund sets) to avoid joint issues, I will need to research those stabilization exercises….

  • Ben

    On a related note on this idea of small changes, let’s say you have a guy with a lot of bad habits that hold him back in training – inconsistent sleep patterns, too much schoolwork, workaholism, whatever. Often there’s one thing that, if fixed, will make it easier to fix everything else. The other issues might even disappear without any work. You don’t pack a building full of explosives when you want to demolish it, you only need to blow the key supports – but you have to know which ones they are first!

  • Refreshing post. It’s all too easy to think that a complete overhaul is necessary when progress stalls.

    @Ben – Nice building analogy.

  • I’ve recently changed up from back squats to what I call eccentric front squats (starting at the bottom) and split squats and flat bench to decline barbell press and incline dumbell presses. I perform stabilization exercises before strength exercises to protect joints. Massive gains! No ridiculous supplements. Just healthy foods and a good training program.


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