Let’s face it, eeeeverybody loves to throw in some bicep curls or some leg extensions at the end of a workout or 2 just for the hell of it and to get a little bit of a pump in the muscles, but that’s not what the basis of your workout should be.
Think about your daily life, when do you ever use a single muscle group in isolation? Very rarely if ever, so why train in isolation? (We’ll come to this in a second…) Everything you do is a combination of a variety of muscle groups working together to create the movement you want and training should in many ways reflect that.
There are 5 basic groups that all movements can be broken down into:
Hip dominant/ “hinge” movements
Knee dominant/ squat movements
Everything is either a pure version of one of these or a combination of 2.
Some direct work is good but to supplement your main training and help remove weaknesses from any of your bigger compound lifts such as deadlifts, squats etc. Like nutritional supplements, you should be only using them as needed, to supplement your training and not to replace the main training you do.
Options options options
If you can’t do an exercise for any reason, space or equipment, then think about the movement you are training and here is a list (not comprehensive at all but it’ll help you out) of exercises that you can swap in as an alternative as needed. The best option at the top of the list, working down progressively easier alternative.
Kettlebell deadlift (allows you to keep your shoulders back and work through a full range of movement)
Front loaded Good morning
Hip thrust options
Single leg barbell hip thrust (shoulders elevated glute bridge)
Barbell hip thrust
Barbell glute bridge (shoulders on floor – smaller range of movement)
Single leg bodyweight hip thrust
Single leg bodyweight glute bridge
Barbell back squat
Barbell front squat
Double kettelbell racked squat
Single KB racked squat
Kettlebell bench press
Single arm DB/KB press (The KB options change the loading by putting the load outside of the line of force from your elbow to your wrist)
DB floor press
Feet elevated push up
Strict barbell shoulder press (no or very little leg drive to assist)
High incline seated barbell shoulder press
Barbell push press
High incline seated DB/KB shoulder press
DB/KB shoulder press
Landmine press (Tall kneeling, half kneeling, standing in descending order of difficulty)
Bentover barbell row
Bentover DB/KB row
Seated cable row
Wide grip pull up
Close grip pull up
Neutral grip pull up
TRX pull up from knees (allows some assistance from the feet at the top end of the range of movement)
Single arm overhead carry
1 hand farmers carry
2 handed farmers carry
While this is not an exhaustive list, there are many more options and variations that could be added, it is enough to give you plenty of alternatives if needed!
Hope these help and if you have any questions , please ask.