4 exercises everyone should be doing
Here are 4 resistance exercises no matter what your goals are you can’t go wrong with these!
1. Pull-Up-a great multi-joint movement to work the entire upper body.
Specifically, the back and shoulders but also the biceps and triceps heavily as well as the chest slightly. Of course without saying the “core” too. Pull-ups are great because no matter what activity or sport you are training for to include bodybuilding, a powerlifter, bikini competitor or the “average Joe” it is effective, safe and appropriate. Furthermore, It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner and not even able to perform one by yourself. For example, a partner could assist you by stabilizing and lifting you at the waist or feet to give the extra upward push needed. Or one could also use a resistance band wrapped around the top bar and place your foot in the bottom of the band. This will also give you less resistance and make it easier to complete the exercise. Sort of like a “rubber band effect.” Coaching points include vary the grips from overhand, underhand to alternative grip and pulling with your elbows and retract your shoulder blades. Aim for 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions with a 30-120 seconds of rest.
2. Push-Up-“old school” and can’t go wrong this exercise. An awesome full-body movement that involves more than your upper body to include the glutes, hip flexors, abdominals and obliques as well as the hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendon to a lesser extent. Coaching points keep the entire chain “engaged” from your toes to your hands and everything in between. Begin with one set of maximum repetitions to 2-3 sets with 30-120 seconds of rest.
3. Plank-now relax folks. I know what some of you may be thinking. There are so many different variations such as on your hands, elbows, side plank or the reverse plank (the “crab”) but my favorite choice is the top position of a push-up. This position is an isometric or “static” position and is a great activity for the stability chain to include the shoulder girdle as well as lower body. Of course you can always do a traditional plank on your elbows and depending upon your skill level you can add a dynamic movement to it such as hand touches to your opposite shoulder one at a time (left hand to right shoulder, right hand to left shoulder, etc.) or elbows to hands one a time without letting your body “sag.” Two things to remember keep your head in a neutral position and retract and lower your shoulder blades. This simply means they shouldn’t be “scrunched” up next to your ears. Aim for 1-3 sets 10-30 seconds in length with a 30 second rest period.
4. Lunge- Yes the lunge! The complexity and diversity of this exercise makes it valuable to everyone as it works agility, balance, mobility, strength and endurance and functional all in one.
Every exercise has a variation so don’t worry if you are deficient in any of the areas above. The lunge is also a unilateral movement meaning it is performed one side at a time and in this case one leg at a time. This type of training has many advantages as it translates very well to walking/running and other closed-chain movements. Aim for 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions with 30-120 seconds of rest.
These four exercises will work your entire body in a multi-joint synergistic manner, which in lay terms means you will see big results.
I only used four exercises and of course there could be arguments for others obviously. However, I chose these four due to their effectiveness, you can do them by yourself and safety reasons to name a few.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and try these!
Always consult with a physician before engaging in an exercise program. Also, understand the repetitions, sets, rest periods and order of exercises will depend upon an individual’s goals.
Randy Behr -M.A., CSCS, MORR, Cooper’s 25 + years in sports & fitness; coaching, teaching, strength & conditioning as an Athletic Director, Health Educator, Sports Information Director, P.T. Education Director and Fitness Director with the NJCAA, USA Track & Field, Arena Football League, Olympic Training Center, and the California Football Association.
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