Movements over muscles

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

Loaded carries

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.


Hip Dominant

Deadlift options


Romanian deadlift

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

Glute bridge


Knee Dominant

Barbell back squat

Barbell front squat

Double kettelbell racked squat

Single KB racked squat

Goblet squat

Bodyweight squat


Horizontal Push

Bench press

Kettlebell bench press

Dumbbell 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


Incline pushup


Vertical Push

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)


Horizontal Pull

Bentover barbell row

Bentover DB/KB row

Seated cable row

TRX row


Vertical Pull

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)

Pull down


Loaded carry

Overhead Carry

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.

Stay strong


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