The 5 Exercises You Must Do (Strength Training)
Last week I blogged about the 5 worst exercises that you should not be doing, so this week I thought it proper to give you my top 5 exercises that you MUST be doing.
These exercises are like A-list movie stars, compared to all other exercises. They always shine, sparkle and look good. They also, unlike those B, C or D-listed stars, know that they have to be more than a pretty face. They have to deliver to stay on top, and deliver they do every time.
Stir the Pot
If you want to train your abdominals in a functional way (which is lengthening and stabilizing the spine), then the plank is the best exercise to do. However, if you really WANT to train your abdominals you will do this exercise.
Stir the Pot combines the two things the core loves – instability and dynamic movement. Stuart McGill, world-renowned spine specialist, referred to the Stir the Pot exercise as the best core exercise that you can do. Since Dr. McGill is a heck of a lot smarter than us, we will listen to his advice.
How to perform:
Place your forearms on top of a stability ball and balance your body in a plank. Slowly move the ball in circles, like stirring a pot, for 20-30 seconds in one direction. Once completed, stir in the opposite direction.
Muscle imbalances across the body are fairly standard. Most of us have a stronger right leg, weaker left arm etc. It happens, it’s completely normal – we create them through daily living.
Unfortunately, as normal as they are, muscle imbalances can also set us up for injury. I like to tell my clients that the gym is the perfect place to work out these “kinks” and get the “weaker” side on board and level with the dominate side.
The Bulgarian Lunge is the perfect leg exercise to do to work out any imbalances between your left and right leg. It forces each leg to work independently from each other. Unlike a regular lunge there is no help from the back leg. The front leg is completely weight-bearing and doing all the heavy lifting, so to speak.
How to perform:
Place the laces of one foot up on a bench and a rolled mat underneath the knee (that’s not in the picture). Lunge straight down, until the back knee touches the mat.
Walk Out Push-Up
This exercise made my top five because it accomplishes a number of things. First, by keeping the legs as straight as you can when you walk out to your push-up, you lengthen what are normally tight hamstrings on most of us.
Second, as you walk out each arm has to hold your body weight on its own with each “step” forward. This will help to offset any muscle imbalances between the left and right arm.
Third, once you are fully extended you are in a straight-arm plank, which trains your core. And, finally, by performing a push-up you get the pecs, shoulders, triceps and rotator cuff muscles fully engaged.
Reverse the movement back to your standing position and you have yourself a “train-dirty” exercise.
I remember when I was first introduced to the mountain climber exercise. It kicked my ass. I couldn’t even do 30 seconds, and it was at that moment when I fell in love.
Last May the Department of Kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University released a study where they measured the amount of activity in the six main muscles of the mid-section during a series of core exercises. And, guess which exercise recruited more ab muscles than any other exercise? My new love, the mountain climber.
Most mountain climbers are performed by pulling the knee straight into the chest, I however, love having people step around and planting the foot as close to their hand as they can. You will still get all of the benefits, with an extra hip opener with every step.
If you could do one thing to say “thank-you” to your spine, the Wonder Woman/Superman exercise is the gift that you should be giving it. (Wonder Womans for you ladies and Supermans for you men)
Our poor spines take a beating every day. We bend them, flex them, load them up, place unnatural stresses on them like sitting, wearing high heels, sleeping on bad mattresses and they still keep going for us.
What the Wonder Woman/Superman exercise does is extend the spine (a movement that it really wants to do), while also stretching the abdominals and strengthening the muscles along the spinal column. All good stuff.
Check out our YouTube channel for exercise programs that use these exercises, as well as more train dirty workouts and tips.
Posted on October 28, 2013, in Exercises, Fit Tip, Health and tagged a-list stars, best exercises, bulgarain lunge, hollywood, lunge, mountain climber, plank, stir the pot, stuart mcgill, supermans. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.