Wednesday 11 July 2012

Selecting the Best Exercises for Your Goals Part 2

In Part 1 of this post, I talked about the importance of selecting multi-joint movements for goals such as fat loss, muscle gain, time efficiency and performance. Here are some more guidelines to help you select the best exercises for YOU.

To start, I think it is good to work from a movement template such as this one from Ian King. Here is what I work from when writing training programs.
I like to divide legs up into the following: knee/quad-dominant movements (squats, lunges & variations) and hip/hamstring (deadlifts, hip extensions variations) movements.

This includes horizontal pushing exercises (bench press, push-ups) and vertical push (shoulder presses, high incline presses).
Both horizontal pulling (rowing variations) and vertical pull (pull-up, pull-down) movements would be included here.

So a program would include the following movements:
Knee dominant movement (e.g. front squat)
Vertical push movement (e.g. press)
Vertical pull movement (e.g. chin-up)
Hip dominant movement (e.g. Romanian deadlift)
Horizontal push movement (e.g. DB bench press)
Horizontal pull movement (e.g. blast strap inverted row)
With these 6 movements, you could train all the major muscles of your body. In addition to these "big 6" you can also add the following:
These are obviously great for athletes, but even general-fitness folks can benefit from doing some simple power movements (e.g. jumping). Power is something that we tend to lose as we age and a loss of it actually increases our risk of mortality. It is relatively fun and relatively easy to train.
Coach Dan John has done some fantastic work in this area and has made me a believer in the benefits of loaded carries. There are endless variations of ways to carry, push and/or drag heavy objects. Loaded carries are great for burning fat and are one of the absolute best ways to create real-life strength and mental toughness. I have some exercises up on my YouTube chanel and plan to add a lot more.
Once these main movements are taken care of, a small addition of accessory exercises (e.g. direct arm work, abdominal, rotator cuff, grip, etc) can be added as needed for functional or aesthetic reasons. I'll use another post in the future to expand on this topic.

Key Application Point:
With the exception of competitive lifters (i.e. those competing in Powerlifting or Weightlifting) you do not have to lock yourself in to doing a specific movement. For example, Powerlifters have to back squat, barbell bench press and deadlift a straight bar from the floor. Those who are not powerlifters can pick variations of these lifts (e.g. front squat, dumbbell bench press, deadlift from rack) if they are more appropriate. Athletes and those who really need to emphasise explosive power that are not competing in the sport of Weightlifting can select more appropriate and less technically complex versions of the snatch and clean & jerk.

In part 3 of this post (I didn't intend for it to get so long) and I'll give you further guidance with selecting the best variations of each movement for your body and your goals...

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