Single-Lift Coaching, or SLC, is a form of fitness and strength training that emphasizes Specialization in one main exercise.
The benefits of SLC can be learned about in depth HERE.
In summary, SLC has two main benefits. For one, SLC gives a central focus to the process of “doing fitness,” removing all of the pressure of having to be “good at everything” and confusion about what to focus on.
Secondly, as the lifter, YOU select the exercise that you want to specialize in based on the one(s) that you enjoy the most.
These combined elements of focus and enjoyment can produce a higher degree of adherence and, therefore, results, because you are less burdened with decisions and overly broad, often contradictory fitness goals.
One goal, one focus, one path.
In SLC, general progress is measured by performance improvements on your main exercise, or “Main Lift.” Any other exercises are included for two main reasons: 1) to assist in progressing the Main Lift (these exercises are called “accessory work”), and 2) to make sure overall training remains balanced and certain muscle patterns and health markers in the body are not neglected.
There are seven main lifts that could easily feature into a Single-Lift approach to fitness. These seven are chosen for good reasons, such as: 1) they work many muscles at once, 2) they have the ability to work a full or a modified range of motion, 3) they can all be progressed or regressed, 4) they can all be loaded with heavy weight, 5) the Squat and the Deadlift work both the upper and lower bodies simultaneously, and 6) selecting accessory work is easy.
In my opinion, the squat is the greatest of all exercises. Why? The squat works both the upper and lower body, but especially the lower in the form of the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. It has nearly infinite varieties to suit a wide range of preferences, physical limitations, and body types. It strengthens the knees and keeps the lower back out of danger, while strengthening both the lower and upper back. In general, training the squat builds the deadlift, while the opposite is not true. The squat focuses the mind as only having a weight on your back possibly can.
The Bench Press is the most common lift, yet I don’t believe it is “overrated.” If anything, correct form and accessory work for the bench press are poorly understood. The Bench Press works all of the front pushing muscles of the upper body, specifically the pectorals, triceps, and anterior deltoids. Mastering it also involves mastering the engagement of the upper back as well. In this way, the return-on-investment element is substantial.
If the Squat is the Monarch of exercises, the Deadlift is a rival Monarch, working to unthrone her. The Deadlift focuses on the movement of the hips more than the legs, which mainly distinguishes it from a Squat, although the entire leg is still worked. As with the Squat, the Deadlift works the entire body and possesses countless variations that allow the lifter to work her hips, lower and upper back, glutes, and grip in numerous ways, all while demanding and building the greatest possible mental focus.
While less popular than the Bench Press, the Overhead Press, or OHP, is growing in stature as it is being seen more and more as a “true” measure of one’s dedication to lifting. The OHP mainly works the shoulders and triceps, yet no other upper-body lift requires as much core stability as the OHP. In addition to improving shoulder health in a way that the Bench Press simply does not allow, this enhanced core stability is one of the primary benefits of OHP specialization.
The Pullup is a humbling exercise, and one of the most pure. Why? Because it is the epitome of “you versus you.” Probably the greatest exercise for building the muscles of the upper/outer back, plus the biceps, the Pullup builds mental toughness almost like no other. Like all of these lifts, there are plenty of variations to suit all needs.
Every Main Lift is greatly enhanced by a strong upper back, and progress on all of them eventually depends on it. The Row is the ultimate exercise for building the upper back, and as a result, it is the Ultimate Accessory Exercise. Every lifter, no matter their Main Lift, should be rowing, and the Lifter who focuses on the Row will automatically be better at all of the other lifts. This is the unique magic of the Row.
Among Main Lifts, the Dip has the fewest variations and regressions. Its risk-versus-reward ratio is not always favorable. Additionally, a lifter who chooses to focus on it must have no pre-existing recurrent pain in the shoulder, elbow, or sternum. It is the most exclusive lift in this way. Still, when properly performed, it is a safe and mighty alternative to the Bench Press for building the pectorals and triceps, and since it functions effectively with bodyweight, it is easy to progress with a small amount of weight. Theoretically, this is a testament to the overall effectiveness and safety of the exercise.
Weakness is not a punishment, but strength is a reward. Claim it.