Tag Archives: squat

The Exercises That Count – What The Top Minds Say

There are people who actually buy unbelievable junk like the Shake Weight and the AbRocket and the Belly Burn. But I don’t give a damn about them because people who buy such obvious crap are slackers. Slackers who look for quick fixes. Slackers who are lazy to move their back sides. Slackers who don’t want to work hard. Slackers who will never look awesome.

But you know what I do give a damn about? The folks who really want to make a change for the better and are willing to do anything it takes to get healthy, grow stronger, move faster and in turn look better because these folks are fighters. Fighters ready to put in time and effort. Fighters ready to bust their chops to reach their goals. Fighters who  spend hours working out every week doing thousands of repetitions of hundred different exercises. Fighters who are frustrated because they don’t see results though they work so hard.

Why? Because it’s not their fault. They have uneducated idiots for trainers who look at them as nothing but dollar signs and make them do mindless crap just to keep them paying for longer.

So in the interest of helping such fighters, I decided to get in touch with some of the best coaches in the world today. I personally emailed these folks asking them the following question…

If you can only do 4 exercises for the rest of your life (for overall physical fitness), what would they be and why?

Realize that these folks are all from different parts of the world, have completely different backgrounds, have different training methodologies, differ big time with respect to nutritional advice and train clients with drastically different goals (soccer moms to fighters to bodybuilders to gymnasts to powerlifters).

But they all have one thing in common – they are all bloody damn awesome in what they do. Each one of these guys walk their talk, have produced stunning results their clients and have changed many many lives for the better.

Without any more blah blah I present to you the coaches and the exercises they deem superior.

1. Martin Berkhan – Leangains

Squat, deadlift and bench. These are called the “big three” for a good reason and I arguing for each one specifically would be an exercise in redundancy.

In addition to the big three, I’ll say chins. This movement complements the big three perfectly by adding biceps and lat work, which are two muscle groups that the three other lifts don’t do that much for, relatively speaking.

Besides being a great back movement, chin-ups also add more shoulder work to the arsenal, and delts in particular. I think I owe a great deal of my biceps and delt development to the fact that I have always been a fan of chin-ups. Never did much targeted work for these muscle groups (curls, lat raises, etc.).

2. Mark Sisson – Mark’s Daily Apple

If I could up it to 5, the answer is easy: The 5 Essential Primal Movements. Pullups, pushups, squats, overhead presses, and planks.

Scalable to any fitness level, no gadgets or machinery necessary, a bench and a tree branch is really all you need.

3. Leigh Peele – Leighpeele.com

  • The most bad ass female trainer I know. In her words – “I am not what you think of as a normal trainer. I don’t overuse hair gel and you will never, ever, see me in spandex.”
  • Author of Fat Loss Troubleshoot and Body By Eats.
  • While she’s worked with celebrities and pro athletes, she says her ultimate purpose is to help educate people on the most efficient methods of making yourself become the person you want to be. Inside and out
  • Hate her or love her… she is legit!

Women please get off the damn elliptical, stop doing your stupid ab twists and listen to Leigh!

I could talk about this FOREVER. I will do my best to keep it brief. It is torture trying to only choose 4!

1. Deadlift – It is the only weighted exercise I truly love. Right from the start of the deadlift, it was a fit. It never hurt me, I never did it wrong and it was instantly my strongest weighted movement. I also feel like of all movements, it is the most applicable towards my life. I am constantly in situations where I am thankful for that movement.

2. Pull-Up – Simple. Effective. Badass. I think there is no greater test to your will and strength than being able to knock-out a pull-up. It will always be in my programs.

3. Leg Swings – It isn’t as popular as the other exercises, but it is a mobility exercises which has saved my hips quite a few times. You can see a great description (along with other movements) over at Stronglifts.com. ( http://stronglifts.com/7-dynamic-stretches-to-improve-your-hip-mobility/ )

4. Suspension Rows (in all variations and forms) – Inverted Rows, Back Rows…I love a row. I love them even more on suspension trainers. I get great mid-back work when I use the suspension trainers in ways I don’t get with traditional weights. I always seem to compensate with my upper traps more. Perhaps it is the adjustablity or the freedom in the movement, but I love that exercise system and the rows specifically.

4. Al Kavadlo – Alkavadl0.com

If I could only do 4 exercises I would choose Push-ups, Pull-ups, Muscle-ups and Pistol Squats.

You can hit every muscle in the body and build tremendous strength with just those 4 exercises.  Of course, you have to be fairly advanced before you can do a muscle-up or a pistol squat in the first place, so I wouldn’t suggest those 4 to a beginner.  Instead, I’d recommend novices start with Push-ups, Australian Pull-ups, Squats and Lunges.

5. Jim Bathurst – Beastskills

The four exercises I’d do for the rest of my life for physical fitness –

Overhead press – standing and pressing a heavy weight overhead use to be the measurement of one’s strength. It requires total body strength and stabilization and can be done with just a barbell.

Back squat – it’s the king of exercises for a reason. make damn sure you have good technique. I’m including the squat instead of the deadlift because I’ve seen too many ugly deadlifts and think people would be better off squatting honest depths with good form.

Clean – the Olympic lifts require strength, speed, coordination, and mobility. ’nuff said.

Chin-ups or rope climbing – We need an upper body pulling exercise. I like the rope climb for the added benefit to your grip, but chin-ups are a-ok too. Unfortunately, way too many people do these incorrectly.

If you did nothing else but these four exercises in your routine, you wouldn’t be too bad off. If you give me a 5th, it would have to be the handstand! I just enjoy it that much. It’s a fun exercise, that’s why I’ve been doing it for the past 12 years.

6. Keith Norris – Theorytopractice

  • Huge, powerful, jacked and super smart! Everyone want’s to be Keith Norris – even Chuck Norris!
  • Has 30+ years of in-the-trenches warfare, empirical and self-taught knowledge at his disposal.
  • Manager at Efficient Exercise.
  • Check out his blog and you can read all about his own workout program and what loads he throws around.

Can I beg for a 5th??  🙂  Ok, OK, I’ll play by the rules — deadlifts, dips, pull-ups and sprints.

My 5th, by the way, would have been an overhead press.

Notice that all of these moves are intense, multi-joint/compound “most bang for the buck” moves.  As an added bonus, dips, pull-ups and sprints require one to not only to exhibit strength in that particular plane of motion, but also require balance and control of the body in space.

My Take

If you’ve read my post on 6 Exercises To Do And To Not Do, you’d know my choices and my reasons, but if I had to pick 4 I’d go with Deadlift (i.e lifting any dead weight off the floor), Sprints , Chin-ups/Rope Climbs, Push-Ups and add the Push-Press if I had a 5th.

Summary

There you have it – some of the best guys in the industry telling you what exercises matter. Do you see any mention a bicep curl? Or distance running? Or situps/crunches? Or Pec Dec? Or Bosu Ball crap? It all come’s down to…

Squat. Deadlift. Press. Push. Pull. Sprint.

Rinse and repeat.

In other words…

  1. Base the bulk of your training around these exercises.
  2. Add in isolation/supplementary work in reasonable volumes if and when needed.
  3. Eat well and rest much.
  4. Stay consistent and stick to your program.

You’ll be well on your way to getting strong, living long and looking awesome. And just so you know, my current training program (and most of my previous ones) have only 6 exercises – squat, deadlift, chinups, presses , sprints and dips… and my transformation ain’t shabby!

Well. my job is done. It’s your turn now. Tell me what your top 4 exercises are in the comments section and of course, be nice and share the information on your Facebook, Twitter, Reddit etc.

Low fat or high fat? Squat or not? Volume or intensity?

The Devil:

Fruit = Natural vitamins and minerals! Eat as much as you want!

Eating fat will cause heart problems.

Carbs are harmless. Get as much whole grains as you can.

Calorie counting is a must to maintain a healthy weight.

Low carb diets don’t work. They’re a fad!

Vegetables are the most important ingredient.

A lot of centenarians ate only vegetables.

Fasting results in muscle wastage. You should eat 6-8 small meals everyday.

Crossfit sucks!

(Distance) Running is the best exercise there is.

Squatting causes knee problems.

Yoga is just stretching. Lame!

Cardio is the most important part of training.

Never strength train to failure.

Volume training is the only way to get strong and muscular.

The Deep Blue Sea:

Fruit (fructose) is poison. Never ever eat fruit.

Eating mostly fat will save you from everything.

Carbs are the sole cause of heart diseases, obesity and every other disease!

Never count calories! Let hunger dictate how much you eat.

Low carb diets are the only way to stay healthy.

Vegetables are worthless.

A lot of centenarians survived on eggs and fatty meat.

Crossfit is the best training program ever created!

(Distance) Running is detrimental to health.

Squatting can cure cancer. You have to squat 3 days a week!

Fasting is beneficial to health. You should eat only 1-2 times a day.

Yoga is all that is required for anyone to get fit irrespective of his/her goals.

Cardio is unnecessary.

Training to failure is the only way to make strength gains.

Volume training results in joint abuse. Keep the volume low. Intensity FTW.

Somewhere Between:

Fruits are nature’s candy. Eat them in moderation.

Fats are absolutely essential to the body. Eat much but be sure to get enough protein and carbs too.

Carbs are beneficial when consumed based on activity level.

Don’t count calories. Don’t binge eat. Practice portion control.

Overweight? Want to lean out? Try low carb. If it works that’s great, else add in some carbs.

Eat a lot of vegetables but don’t eat only vegetables.

All centenarians ate less, lived active, fasted frequently and did not stress much!

There are things about Crossfit which are exceptional and parts that are plain ridiculous. Choose wisely.

Enjoy running? Go out and run. Hate it? Don’t worry about it.

Can’t squat? Try harder. Still can’t? Hop on the leg press.

Prefer big meals? Eat 1-3 times a day. Prefer small meals? Eat 4-6 times a day.

Yoga is great and is one of the many tools that need to be a part of your fitness toolkit. Practice it often.

Eat clean. Strength train. Do cardio that doesn’t affect recovery.

Work with sub-maximal loads during most phases of the year. Plan your workouts such that you go to failure once every few weeks.

High volume works. Low volume works. Try both. Find what works for you. Train smart.

For the most part, I seem to happily hover around somewhere between the devil and the deep blue sea.  Where do you want to chill?

Get your mind right people! Find what works for you. Self-experimentation is what it all comes down to!

Enjoy the weekend!

Peace out.

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