Who wants to be the guy, or girl, in the gym with twig legs and a huge upper body? Not me, and I’m guessing not you either.
Personally, I want to be the guy that looks fit, and can actually display my fitness when the time to perform. It would be quite embarrassing to look the part, but when it comes time to lift something heavy or move with agility and speed, you can’t. I want to share eight exercises that will improve your strength, agility, and ability to perform so you too can avoid embarrassing moments.
8 Exercises Everyone Should Perform
I would be willing to say this is what most consider the top exercise for lifting heavy. And, if you feel this way you’re correct, to some degree. Every day we pick stuff up; our kids, bags, books, groceries, etc., so why not hone-in on the way you pick things up? Why not train to be an expert at picking things up? Those thoughts ever cross your mind? All strength training is functional. Think about it, we train so that we can lift heavy, move better, jump higher, become stronger– and in the process we happen to burn fat and create a happy body. A proper deadlift combines both mobility and ability, and comes in handy when life provides something heavy for you to lift.
- Side Note: Be mindful of your grip, as using the mixed grip (one overhand and one underhand) causes an asymmetrical spine load that could cause injury while lifting heavy.
Wake up those glutes! Most people have sleeping glutes, yeah, their butts are asleep when they workout. And let me tell you, their back will suffer, and they will likely encounter issues with their hip joint. Interestingly, most men wouldn’t say “When is glute day in the gym?” And to be honest, if you asked most average gym attendees they’d reply, “Oh, there isn’t one.” Well there should be! And there is! Glute day should be as important as chest or leg day, and in fact should be an integral component during squats, deadlifts, and lunges. Activate your glutes with hips thrusts, then activate them during your deadlifts and squats. You’ll notice a huge difference in your ability and stability during each movement.
This may seem crazy, but think about it, we spend much of our time on one leg, not both. Did I lose you? When we are walking, which we tend to do a lot, the only time you’re on two feet would be the short period of time when one leg is coming down, and the other is preparing to lift. Ever walked upstairs? Well, you’re using one leg at a time. How about your cardio, are you a runner? Running is a single-leg exercise as well. So, don’t just squat, single-leg squat. I know they are difficult, but when you train hard life gets easier. Also, I prefer using the TRX or some type of support during SL squats, depending on how deep I want to go during the movement.
Single-leg, Body-weight, Hip Thrust
Take a look at #’s 2 and 3, this is why we single-leg hip thrust. You should utilize this exercise more for range of motion than heavy lifting.
Ever need to stand up from laying down? Then this is the exercise for you. This exercise is great for asymmetrical resistance, and most people can perform this movement after some practice. Remember, the goal here is about quality of the movement, so don’t overdue it with the weight selection. Side note: this exercise is known as the Turkish Get-up.
Directional Jump Squats
Why not right? We move in several different directions on a daily basis, so why not train for those movements? Imagine you’re jogging down the sidewalk, and all of a sudden a squirrel runs out and scares the crap out of you! I assume you would jump and change directions all at the same time (either that or punt that thing to the moon) and you would want to be able to move quickly to avoid collision or attack (lmao), and that’s where jump squats play a large role. These movements allow you to move quickly and perform better, as to avoid maniac squirrels and absent-minded cyclists on the sidewalk.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch and Back Extension
Sit a lot? Most people do. Sitting often causes tightness in the anterior portion of your hips, and excessive forward lean. Perform this exercise to help open up the hips and induce thoracic extension if you want to combat forward lean.
Did he just say sprints? I’m not an athlete, why would I sprint? Because you feel like an athlete when you sprint, even if you’re not quite as fast as you once were. No matter what stage of life you are in, you have a top speed, why not hit that top speed every once in a while, revert to your youth, and let your inner child out to run!?
That’s it folks, exercises that will increase your mobility, reactivity, and stability. Throw these exercises in with your next routine and watch your daily movements and range of motion improve.
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