By things I mean exercises, 4 of my all time favourite exercises for both myself and for my clients, and hopefully 4 that you will incorporate into your programs to get great results!
The list of exercises that are great is long and full of options for all your fitness and strength needs. I’ve picked 4 that I think give the best bang for your buck in the least time and the least fuss. That said, if you ask me this time in a couple of weeks, I’ll probably add another exercise or switch out one for another, but as of right now, this is the list.
The King of lifts. You versus the bar. It comes off the floor or it doesn’t. Simple.
Done well it looks freaking awesome and works pretty much every part of you, done badly and your back will let you know about it. Technique is key, hips back and a below your shoulders. weight towards your heels, grip the bar like you want to crush it, and rip it off the floor.
Check out this fantastic deadlift set up video from Tony Gentilcore at Cressey Performance.
You versus gravity. Pull yourself up and lower yourself under control, repeat.
Grip, lats, biceps, core all get a workout from these and doing them well gives you major strength gains.
Easier said than done though! My usual progression for clients is:
- assisted pull up machine, not ideal but helps to build the initial strength and movement pattern needed.
- Trx pullups from your knees. This allows you to get some assistance from your legs as needed and gain more strength.
- Eccentric pullups, jump to the top position and slowly lower yourself back down over 5-10 secs.
- Full pullups
Very underrated, underused and mistakenly so. Doing pushups well regardless of your self decided level of ability, is impressive. Unfortunately you are more likely to see this…
If you struggle with maintaining good form, start with holding a pushup plank for time, hold the top of the pushup, tighten your lats, push the ground away, tight glutes and abs and your head in a neutral position. Then start on a high incline, and do 3 sets of 8-12 good reps, lowering the incline over time until you reach the floor.
4. Farmers carries.
Pick up a weight, walk with it, put it down. grip, core, hip stability and even a cardio hit. What more could you ask for?!
Stuart McGill, Canadian spinal research legend, has called farmers carries as walking planks as an indication of their ability to improve core strength and stability.
The trick to doing these well is to gradually increase loading over time while maintaining great posture and controlled walking style. At least as much as you can!
Try to stay in a neutral position with your spine in a neutral position and tight midsection, challenge yourself with loads but don’t lose quality of movement. If you can build the load up to betwen 50 and 100% of bodyweight per hand and carry it well for a decent time or distance and I can guarantee you will reap the benefits.
Try this short, intense workout if you are pushed for time:
A. Deadlifts – 4 sets of 5-7 reps and around 85% of your 1RM,
B1. Pullups 3 sets of as many pullups as you can, supersetted with,
B2. Pushups 3 sets of 10-20
C. Farmers carry – 3 to 6 sets of 20-40m with as heavy a load as you can with good technique.