I often get asked what my favorite exercises are ….this is tough as those who know me know that I like a WIDE variety of options (remember my movement exercise menus??). I wrote a “Top 5 Exercises” list a while back and I still stand by these exercises today as I think they are amazing bang-for-your-buck moves.
Today I will delve in a little deeper as i will pick an exercise for each of my ‘essential movement patterns’: Knee Dominant, Hip Dominant, Push, Pull, Explosive, and Core. Granted…I will cheat a little since I think you need to both Squat and lunge in your knee dominant choices and also think you need to Rotate/anti-rotate and Brace/anti-extend when training your core so you may be seeing a couple of exercises in those movement categories =o)
EXPLOSIVE EXERCISE – The Barbell Muscle Snatch
I don’t care if it’s clean-grip, snatch-grip, from the floor or from a hang….there’s nothing like this exercise when it comes to forcing complete QUADRUPLE extension without ever worrying about ‘getting back under the bar’ and potentially cutting the pull short. Here’s my girl Jen Sinkler demo’ing a solid clean-grip muscle snatch
KNEE DOMINANT (Unilateral) – Ultimate Sandbag Rotational Lunge
I have said this for years, the USB Rotational Lunge could be the best performance-training exercise in the world. The dynamics of this exercise is UNMATCHED. Loading, balance, multiple planes, deceleration, stability – this exercise has it ALL. Can’t say enough about it…here are some of my volleyball athletes showing a variation where we perform all reps on one side before moving to the opposite side (using our off-leg to add some intensity to the working side). We will also perform this in alternating fashion.
KNEE DOMINANT (bilateral) – Goblet or USB Bear hug Squat
OMG! Did I just 86 my almighty Front Squats?!?! Well, Front Squats are still a HUGE staple in my programs and when I need to REALLY LOAD we rely on them big time but when I want PERFECT, DEEP squats or when I want to correct or perfect a squatting pattern that can keep near-identical back and shin angles, I have to go with a Goblet or a USB Bearhug squat (pictured above). The girls pictured are squatting well over 100lbs and the demands on the body are off the charts. Don’t sleep on these squats when it comes to getting you or your clients stronger and squatting BETTER.
Didn’t think I need a goblet squat video so I decided to post my friend Jon-Erik Kawamoto performing some PERFECT USB bear hug squats!
HIP DOMINANT – KB Band Swings
Once again, this is another stacked movement category with a ton of great exercises. I decided to focus on swings and take it a step further with the addition of a superband. Can’t say enough about KB swings in general but with the addition of the superband we can really get great load and an almost super-eccentric loading component. the band really forces great hinging and demands complete and forceful extension to complete the swing. Here is Wil Fleming showing the simple set-up and performing some great KB Band Swings!
PUSH – KB 1-arm Push Press
There is something thrilling about pushing heavy loads overhead…Don’t get me wrong, I love me some barbell push presses but I love the aspect of loading one side and having to deal with the entire body working to maintain balance when heavily loaded on one side. The KB push press (can be a DB as well although the KB sits better between reps) is a big bang-for-your-buck move in that we can really load it turn the ENTIRE body ON during this exercise.
See the Push Press at 2:25 into this video
PULL – Pull-up/Chin-up
Who are we kidding? We all know the pull-up/chin-up is the king of upper body pulling and a great indicator of one’s strength as it relates to our body weight!
Here Rachel Cosgrove bangs out a crap-load of chins just to embarrass us guys =o)
CORE (Rotation/anti-rotation) – TRX Pallof Press and ‘soup stir’ variations
There are lots of great ways to target anti-rotation using land mines, superbands etc. but I really love using the TRX as it also has the bonus of letting us incorporate actual rotation into the mix!
Here’s a BID VID where I talk through some set-up and show some anti-rotation and rotation progressions!
CORE (bracing/anti-extension) – Ab Wheel
Yup, the good old-fashioned AB WHEEL! As simple as it gets but can also be as tough as ANYTHING depending on your variation!
Joe Hashey comes up with AWESOME exercise variations and his Ab Wheel variations video is one of my faves! Check it out …..
Well there you have it folks – sure there are other movements we want to train to address specific demands but for the most part we have addressed our ‘essential movements’ that we should be training. Hope you enjoyed!