My Favorite Exercises

When it comes to exercise, we all have exercises which we love to do and perform almost every time we hit the gym.  It may be push ups, pull ups, leg press, the weighted ab machine, calf raises or broom twists, whatever it may be, we all perform the exercises we like and enjoy.  One of the harmful aspects of always performing the exercises we love and enjoy is that we are not getting the benefit from all of the exercises we are not doing.  We cannot get any better and get the results we are after if we keep doing the same thing over and over again.  We all know the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” In order to get to the next level, we all must do the exercises we hate, do them often and make our weaknesses our strengths.  There is a reason why we hate these exercises whether it may be they hurt, we are not good at them or they are just not fun.

It is time to change things up a bit and think about starting out your workout sessions with those dreaded exercises in which you loath doing.  Try doing them when you are fresh and full of energy and then you can get to all of those exercises you love to do afterwards.  I am not a big fan of Turkish Get Ups but I usually try to get a set or two in with my warm up.  Why?  Because I know they are good for me, I know they are hard to do and I know they are one heckuva way to warm up the body.  Now for me, there is a difference between exercises in which I like and exercises in which I can not do.  I can not perform certain exercise because they cause me physical harm.  I love barbell bench press, barbell cleans and dips but I have learned to not do them anymore because they hurt my shoulder.  I hate to say this but, as I have gotten older (ahem) I have learned to eliminate these exercises from my training program to continue the longevity of my training career.  If you have exercises such as these, then it might be time to think about retiring them and moving on to something more effective.

I want to share with you a list of all my favorite exercises in which I perform on a regular basis.  A lot of them may be performed only one time for the warm up but every one of these exercises I am going to list I believe are important and valuable to any training program.  To make things easier I am going to break it up into categories.  Look over the lists and see how many exercises match up to yours

Body Weight

  • Bridge
  • Marching Bridge
  • Bird Dog
  • Plank
  • Side Plank
  • Overhead Squat
  • Single Leg Squat
  • Side Lunge
  • Curtsy Lunge
  • Split Squat
  • 1 Leg Reach
  • T’s, Y’s, L’s, W’s
  • Push Up
  • Pull Up
  • Inverted Pull Up
  • Handstand
  • 1 Leg Step Up
  • Jump Rope
  • Skipping
  • Side Shuffle
  • Carioca
  • High Knees
  • Butt Kickers

This is pretty much my warm up.

Medicine Ball

  • Ball Slams
  • Ball Chest Press
  • Side Lateral Toss
  • Front Lateral Toss
  • Overhead Toss
  • Back Lunge and Twist
  • Woodchops

Kettlebell

  • Turkish Get Ups
  • Goblet Squat
  • Swings
  • 1 Arm Swings
  • 1 Arm Snatch
  • Deadlift
  • Farmers Carry
  • Waiters Carry
  • Suitcase Carry
  • Single Arm Split Squat
  • Single Arm Squat
  • Single Arm Shoulder Press
  • Cleans
  • Single Leg Deadlift
  • Sumo Squat
  • 1 Arm Row

Barbell

  • Back Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Shoulder Press
  • Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

Dumbbells

  • Chest Press
  • Incline Press
  • Single Arm Chest Press
  • 1 Arm Row
  • 1 Arm Overhead Press
  • Double Arm Squat Curl Press
  • Renegade Row
  • 1 Arm Snatch

Bands

  • Squat Press
  • Squat Row
  • Split Stance Alternating Presses
  • Split Stance Alternating Rows
  • Lunge and Press

Cable Pulley

  • Squat Stance Chops (High to Low)
  • Split Stance Chops
  • Squat Stance Lifts (Low to High)
  • Split Stance Lifts
  • Split Stance 1 Arm Punch
  • Split Stance 1 Arm Row

Well that pretty much raps it up for me and most of the exercises I try to perform regularly.  I know it may seem like a long and detailed list, which it is, but I would say I perform almost all of these exercises within the week and not all in one day.  For me, it all depends on my mood, my energy and what I am feeling for the day.  If I feel great, full of energy and fired up, I generally warm up  and get after it with a lot of body weight high explosive type exercises.  Lots of high heart rate stuff, medicine ball training and sprints.  Other days I may feel like toning it down a bit and working on some core essential moves like the body weight stuff, some band exercises and my chops and lifts with the cable stations.  Then sometimes I feel like just loading the body and getting my lift on with some barbell work, dumbbells and kettlebells.  I keep it short, sweet and heavy mainly sticking with either a 3 x 5 or 5 x 5 reps and set range.  Think about your program and what you can do to improve it, make it more effective and reach the results you are after.

Remember the warm up is important and your warm up should be your workout and your workout should be the warm up.

 

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Build Your Foundation

When building a house, one of the first and most important steps is building a strong and almost indestructible base.  The foundation of the house needs to be strong, reliable and handle the load and structure of the rest of the house.  Without a strong foundation the house would be sagging in some areas, breaking off in other areas or possibly crumpling under the heavy load of the house.  Your body is your house and your legs are your foundation.  Your legs are probably the most important and under-worked body part of your body which is unfortunate because the legs set up the rest of the body for a wonderfully powerful and strong foundation.  I understand, nobody really likes to work legs.  It is hard, very tiring, pretty exhausting and leads to people walking funny down stairs and getting in and out of chairs.  Our legs need to be our foundation for our bodies and I would suggest starting with them first every time you train.  I have been in this industry long enough to know how some of the workout schedules go, especially more so since moving out here to South Carolina.  Let me break it down for you and see if you fall into this kind of split: Monday- Chest and triceps, Tuesday- Back and biceps, Wednesday- shoulders and abs, Thursday- legs? No I think going out sounds better, so Friday- legs?  No, still hurting from going out on Thursday, I will get it next.  The next week comes and they fall into the same rotation.  The reasons why I don’t like this kind of program is because for any of you who know me, know I love full body workouts.  You should workout your whole body every time and then take a day off to rest.  We are not body builders so we do not need to isolate body parts on specific days.  If you do full body workout then you will burn more calories, lower your body fat percentage, increase your metabolic rate and hopefully shred some fat and get stronger and leaner in the process.  Maybe your workout routine is a little different and maybe some of you like to do a upper body lower body split which is fine.  Just make sure when you lift your legs, you to start with a big compound lift like a squat or a deadlift.

How we start our fitness programs dictate how successful we are and what we want to get out of it.  Start with your legs every time you workout.  I always attack my legs on the days I work out.  I go after them and make them pay the price because I know that it is good for me and know it will translate over to everything else I want to do.  Our legs are our powerhouse and we need to work them as best as we can.  Not only do I want strong legs for activities of daily life, like hiking, playing with my kids, carrying groceries, flying up the stairs and jumping around but I also want strong powerful legs because I know it is great for my golf game.  I want to hit the ball longer and farther and one of the best ways to do that is to have strong powerful hips.  After your warm up, pick a compound movement like front squat, deadlift, kettlebell swings or back squat and perform anywhere between 3 – 5 sets.  Some of the rep ranges I have been playing around with lately is 5 sets of 5 reps.  5 x 5 is great for gaining pure strength which each set going a little bit heavier and I also like to do 3 sets of 8.  Generally, I start with my main lift and perform just that until it is done and then I move on to some mini circuits where I incorporate an upper body lift and a lower body lift.  It is also good to start with your legs because you are fresh and full of energy because we all know how hard it is to squat or deadlift well when you are tired or are running run low on energy.

Build your foundation and make it strong, tough and powerful.  Start with your legs and and you will see great gains in your strength, your physique and your performance.  Have a wonderful foundation building day.sq

Hump Day Workout

Today’s workout was a typical lifting workout but with a different spin on it.  I performed 3 sets of 8 reps but I timed my rest period to only 1 minute and it worked me pretty good.  I was surprised how much work I got down in so little time.  After performing 5-6 big lifts with this rep range and timed rest, I look up at the clock and only 25 minutes had passed.  Which got me thinking about how much more effective our workouts can be if we control one of the variables like your rest break.  Think about how long you really actually rest in between sets, your rest might be getting a drink a water, talking to the cute girl on the outer thigh machine or watching a Sportscenter highlight, but I guarantee it is longer than 1 minute.  Get on the clock right after you finish your first set and give yourself 1 minute before you do the next one, bang out the next set, wait another minute and do set 3 and you are done with that exercise.  Time to move on to the next exercise.  Realistically speaking each exercise should take no more than 4 minutes max.  My goal in the gym is to get in, get after it and get out.  Make your workouts more efficient and effective and you will see some great results.

My workout looked like this:

Warm Up

Performed as a 3 exercise circuit

3 rounds of

8 Overhead Squats, 8 Push Ups, 8 Pull Ups

Workout

Front Squat 3 x 8 (95lbs)

Bent Over Row 3 x 8 (135,155, 165)

Romanian Deadlift 3 x 8 (165, 175, 185)

Kettlebell Swings 3 x 20 (28 kg ~ 61 lbs)

Dumbbell Chest Press 3 x 8 (70, 75, 75)

Hammer Strength High Pull 3 x 8 (90, 100, 100)

Dumbbell Squat Curl Press 3 x 8 (25,35,45)

Ab Wheel Roll Outs 3 x 20

Done in 45 minutes and feeling it.  Time to tackle the day.

Christmas Cookie Calorie Burner

I had some extra calories to burn so I decided to mix it up a bit today from the heavy lifting and went with more circuit training.  I was plenty fueled and needed to move and sweat some of the extra sugar I consumed over the weekend.  Hope this help inspire you to get in, get after it and get out.

 

5 Rounds of:

10 second sprint on the treadmill with 10% incline at 10, 12, 12, 13, 14 mph

10 Push Ups

10 Standing Lat Pull Downs

10 Kettlebell Swings

10 Kettlebell Squats

 

2 Sets of 5 (had to get a strength set in)

Straight Bar Deadlift with 225 pounds

 

3 Rounds of:

10 Box Jumps on 36 in box

10 Burpees from the floor

10 Seconds on the Battle Ropes

10 Ball Slams with 10lb Med. Ball

 

3 Rounds of:

50 Foot Sprint on the Versa Climber (about 12 seconds)

Shuttle Run Down and Back (about 25 yards each way)

Heavy Carry with 53 lb Kettlebells Down and Back

10 Squat Row Jump Backs with the Bands

 

 

Swinging Workout

Over the weekend I had read a couple of pages of Dan John’s new book Intervention and he talked about the significance of kettlebell swings.  He said kettlebell swings are hands down, by far, one of the best lower body lifts.  He once went a few weeks where he performed 250 kettlebell swings a day and got great results from it.  Kettlebell swings are designed for explosive hip power.  There should be minimal knee movement and maximal hip movement with no lower back pain.  If there is back pain then hips are not being engaged enough.  With that being said, I decided to try my hand at some swinging for yesterdays workout, with my goal being at least 100 swings a day for the whole week.

Here is yesterdays workout:

3 Rounds of:

20 Kettlebell Swings (35 lb)

10 TRX Rows

10 TRX Push Ups

5 1 Leg Pistol Squats

Mini Band Walks

 

3 Rounds of:

10 Second Sprint @ 12 mph with 15, 20, 20% incline

Inch Worm 20 yards

3 Turkish Get Ups on Each Side (35 lb kettlebell)

15 Kettlebell Swings (53 lb KB)

 

3 Rounds of:

5 Explosive Pull Ups

5 Explosive Push Ups

5 Kettlebell Swings (103 lbs)

5 Jumping Medicine Ball Slams (30 lbs)

I will keep you informed on how my week of kettlebell swings goes.  I figure by the end of the week, I will either be a big fan or not so much.  Either way, have a great swinging day.

Wednesday Workout

Just completed this workout yesterday and I really enjoyed it.  A great way to start off with some sprints when you are fresh, followed by some functional movement training and end with some great weight lifting.  Enjoy

The Mini Blaster

5 Rounds of:

10 second sprint on the treadmill at 25% incline @ 8, 9, 9.5, 10, 10 mph followed by

30 seconds on the 1 pound rope.  Every minute on the minute

 

3 Rounds of:

10 lateral hops over a 24 inch hurdle, 10 TRX Rows, 10 Burpee’s from the floor, Farmer’s walk with 53 lb kettlebells about 25 yards down and back, 10 medicine ball slams.

3 Rounds of:

10 reps of a 1 arm single leg deadlift with 30, 35, 35 lb dumbbell, 10 1 arm squat curl press with same dumbbell, 40 alternating band pulls, 10 kettlebell swings, 10 ab wheel roll outs.

Finished off with medicine ball power rotary tosses against the wall.  10 on each side being perpendicular to the wall and 10 on each side facing the wall.

300 Workout

A wonderful workout I remembered the other day that I have been making my clients do most of the week.  It is hard, challenging and definitely rewarding once completed.  My favorite about giving this workout is most of my clients are like “no way, I can’t do that”  and then they end up kicking ass and getting some of the top times.  I performed this workout yesterday with some slight modifications and I was pretty spent.  Who am I kidding, I laid on the floor for about 5 minutes and did not feel very well afterwards, but it is good to go there every once and awhile.  Without further ado the  300 workout:

300 Workout

100 TRX or Bodyweight Rows for time (Pull ups if you are feeling brave or dumb like me)

100 Push Ups for time

100 Kettlebell swings for time

The goal is to complete each exercise for 100 total reps in the fastest amount of time with good form.  Once you completed the one exercise, rest for about 3-5 minutes before starting the next 100.  The push ups for the men are from the ground and for the girls is from an elevated surface like a bench.  For the girls I have been giving them the 35 lb kettlebell to use and the guys 44- 53 lb depending on how great their form is.  This challenge is quite entertaining and strategy definitely comes into play.  Do you go big on the first set and get as many as you can or do you go more conservative and try to get 10 at a time?  I had a really difficult time with the 100 pull ups and it set me up for hurting the rest of the tests.  Here are my times:

100 Pull Ups: 9:42 (not proud of it but I accepted the challenge)

100 Push Ups: 5:20 ( I did mine in the rings with my feet elevated)

100 Kettlebell Swings: 4:30 (53lbs)

Definitely see some weaknesses and the areas I need to work on but overall I am happy and feel great.  Get out there and create challenges for yourself and see what you can do. I like these types of test because it is a race against time and it is a classic work-to-rest ratio.  Enjoy.