The concept of the box is derived from that age old adage “think outside the box”. I think we have all heard this before either given to us as advice or perhaps used to describe somebody who just sees the world from a completely different perspective, like Charlie Sheen, yikes that guy is way, way outside the box actually I don’t even know if he knows about the box. Anyway the box is basically representative of the normal or fundamental basics of any field or life in general. It defines the essential concepts and ideas that are vitally important. The box serves as a foundation for other development. For example, in mathematics and physics Sir Isaac Newton had to understand basic arithmetic, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division before he could sit down and develop the mathematic discipline of calculus and the use of derivatives as a way to represent the rate at which something changes. Having a incredible understanding of your box and being able to perform all tasks within the box gives you a stable foundation to build upon when you start to venture out of the box. I am not trying to get at the idea that leaving the box or getting outside of it is a bad idea. I encourage everyone to push themselves outside of their box and “comfort zone”. It is in these moments when are biggest revelations take place and we experience the most growth as human beings. I mean crap we owe so much of the advancement of humanity to those individuals who did not see the world like so many before them. Individuals such as Aristotle, Socrates, John Lennon, Hippocrates, and Steve Jobs are largely the reason why the human race continues to evolve. Our species ability to adapt to all environments, circumstances, and obstacles is what has allowed us to survive the perils of earth and remain at the top of the biological world. We are creatures who were designed to push the limits of the box.

Every great training facilities got to have a Malibu Pilates Chair!

But while I value the traits of open-mindedness and creativity, I often find myself at odds with these traits in the training world. It seems as if every single certified health and fitness professional is promoting some new kind of methodology, modality, or exercise that will become the next greatest thing since sliced bread, well of course behind Sensa (you know that magical weight loss powder that you sprinkle on all your food and it magically makes you lose pounds easily, JEEZ GIVE ME A BREAK). And I don’t me to hate on these individuals because I understand what they are trying to do. They are simply trying to offer fresh, new, and creative ideas so that people will stay interested. I don’t have a problem with this if their agenda is to increase the amount of hits their site receives great, but that is not what I am about. What I want to do is provide sound, creditable, practical content that is going to directly enable you to live healthier, move better, and be stronger. That being said I am of the opinion that these creative, ground-breaking exercises are a waist of your time and attention. You will receive a much higher return on your investment spending your time and effort tying to obtain mastery within the confines of the box. Only leaving these boundaries when the time absolutely calls for such behavior. Attempting to master the basics and constantly working to own your training is going to take you much further than any swanky new exercise is going to do (i would advise you to hold back from doing barbell squats on a Bosu ball. It is just not prudent).

This box isn’t a two week kind of conquest hell it may not even be a 2 year conquest. A lot of it will depend upon the frequency and intensity with which you attack it and how much focus you place on each movement when practicing it. I am not in anyway ashamed to admit that I am still working on mastering everything in the box and I am a somewhat experienced trainee for over 5+ years who is a practicing personal trainer.

My recommendation is to unplug from all those websites you visit on a daily basis, even this one if it is causing you to have training schizophrenia.

Focus all your efforts within the box. Define your box and work on it incessantly. To end this piece I would like to share with everyone my list of what belongs within the training box:


My Box

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Plank Variations(from your hands)
  • Hip Thrust
  • One-Arm Row (any modality)
  • Jumping Rope
  • Box Jumps
  • Vertical Pull (either pull-up or pulldown)
  • Push-Up (correct one not from your knees and not with your elbows flared out)
  • Turkish Get-Up (I love this exercise and I think it offers so many benefits so it may be a little biased selection)
  • Farmer’s Carry (and all its glorious variations)

I don’t think you need to be worrying about what training split to do or what set and rep scheme or what percent of your max will be used for a cluster set of 5 x (2X3). You will be much better served working on these few basic movements and avoiding any gimmicky exercise that late night paid programming maybe showcasing (Malibu Pilates Machine? Umm I think I’ll go to bed now.). Just remember the box is set up for a reason it keeps us in check and prevents us from taking our training from productive time spent to a silly show revolving around bands, balls, and funny looking weights (Vipr. Anyone?) allows us to continually be making progress forward by moving on to the next progression of the exercise when competency has been achieved

Remember thinking outside the box is just as important as learning and perfecting things inside of the box!