I went to Fitness first last week for a look around. The first thing that struck me was what exercises people were doing.
Even though they had a decent selection of barbells, kettle bells and dumbbells almost everyone was using cardio equipment.
Why people are still doing this I don’t understand?
If you are a guy strength training will broaden your shoulders, build up you arms, chest, legs and back.
If you are a girl strength training will tighten your hips, butt and arms.
You won’t get “big” or “bulky” if you are a girl. Trust me, it’s gonna take years of hard training to get “big”.
All the areas most guys and girls want to target will be targeted through strength training, not running or ellipticaling (is that even a real word?)
Below I have listed the 6 exercises you should focus on when you’re at the gym. These 6 exercises build a balanced injury resistant body that looks good.
You must include the following movements
- Loaded carry
This should be number one in everyone’s training routine. Squatting is a primal movement which has been lost in western culture since the invention of chairs but is still common in asian countries.
The squat tests your stability and mobility.
Stability means you can brace the muscles as you ascent and descent into the movement.
Mobility means your hips, knees and ankles have sufficient movement to get into the proper position.
One without the other will make your ability to squat dangerous. If you have the mobility without the stability you are at risk of dislocating a joint.
Chances are that if you sit all day you will find this very challenging.
The best way to improve your squat is to well er… squat. Start with a bodyweight squat. You can use a door frame to aid you if you feel you will fall backwards.
You should be able to complete 15 bodyweight squats with good form before adding weight.
- The Deadlift
The deadlift is hip dominant movement known as a hinge movement to fitness professionals. When squatting your knees bend and your hips move towards the ground. With the deadlift your hips move back, like you are closing a car door with your butt.
It works more muscles than any other barbell movement (excluding the olympic lifts). Mainly the glutes, hamstrings and lower back. The deadlift is an all round awesome exercise.
It’s best to keep reps below 8 reps on the dead lift.
- Push ups
Push ups are a great upper body strength exercise. They work the chest, triceps and core muscles.
Set yourself up in plank position with your palms below your shoulders. Quads contracted, buttocks tights and shoulders pulled away from the ears.
Elbows should not flare out as you descend. Keep your core engaged as you lower yourself until your nose not touches the ground.
For the pull movement I have chosen bat wings. Bat wings work the rhomboids. These are the muscles in your upper back that affect your posture.
They are known as phasic muscles which tend to weaken as you age. This weakening results in your inability to roll your shoulders back and gives you that god awful posture you have.
If you find you have rounded shoulders these will sort out your posture.
Start without any weight and work on bringing you thumbs into your armpits.
When using dumbbells or kettlebells start with a light weight and focus on getting your thumbs into your arms pits.
The lunge is a crucial movement pattern to master. Just think about how many times during the day you need to lunge to pick things up? It also improves you balance, hip mobility and single leg strength.
Don’t use weight until you can do 15 bodyweight lunges with good form.
- Loaded carry
The farmers carry tests your grip strength and improves you’re core stability as you must keep the weights away from the body as you walk.
This move is straight forward to execute and it tends to have a positive effect on all of your other lifts.
Men should aim for .5 body weight in each hand.
Include these movement into your routine and you will see a huge improvement in strength and body composition.
A1) Squats 5×5
A2) Pushups 5×10
B1) Batwings 5×10 second holds
B2) Lunges 4×10
- C) Farmers carry 3x30m
- A) Deadlift 5×5
B1) One arm press 5×10
B2) Batwings 5×10 seconds holds
- C) Farmers carry 3x30m
I love the Woody Allen quote “80% of success is showing up”. A lot of the time the hardest part is getting to the gym.
Once you are there make sure the other 20% of your time is spent intelligently. Get off the bike and start using the movements above.
You’re time is precious.
Make it worthwhile.