Be honest with yourself. Do you really know what you are doing in the weight room? Not many people do. As a trainer, I cannot begin to tell you how many times I see people doing obnoxious looking exercises and on top of that doing so with terrible form and control. You couple this with all of the terrible information found on social media and internet sources, it is a recipe for disaster. Let me be frank. You can go online and type in “workouts,” and you will find an endless supply of workouts. But how do you know that they are right for you. My advice to fixing this problem “keeping it simple.” I will be giving you six key movements to work on next time you are in the gym.
Foundational Strength Movements
No workout is complete without working on a squat or a deadlift. These movements are staples in my programming for all of their immense value in everyday life and carryover to all of your other movements. The squat in my opinion, the king of exercises. It is a true demonstration of strength and mobility. The deadlift is the strongest lifting movement that humans are capable of performing while also one of the most functional. Practice, perfect and progress these movements and what all of the gains start to come your way.
Horizontal Pushing Movements
These are the pushups and various types of chest pressing movements. As a human we use our pushing strength to open doors or moving objects in front of us. If you cannot perform a pushup with good form, begin with an elevated version of the movement on a bench or counter top. The chest press can be performed on a flat, inclined or declined bench to hit all of the different portions of the chest muscles.
Horizontal Pulling Movements
You can identify these movements as the rowing exercises. Not only do they help improve your upper back strength, they are some of the best posture correcting exercises in the book. In a world where we find ourselves sitting more than in any other time in history, our posture begins to slip which can result in forward head and shoulders. This can lead to neck and shoulder pain. By performing a proper row, whether it’s seated or bent over, you can easily correct this. Take your time with your rowing movements and focus on the squeeze of your shoulder blades at the end of the exercise.
Overhead Pressing Movements
One of the lost abilities of humans today is the ability to raise your hand directly above head. As humans, we are always reaching above head to put something up or taking something off of a shelf. Too many times, I run encounter individuals who cannot bring their arms straight above their head. Some of my favorite over head pressing movements are the military press and arnold press. Both help improve strength and mobility overhead.
Split Stance Movements
Some of the most common movements we perform in everyday life are walking and navigating stairs. Not having strength while using one leg can lead to falls and possible injury. On top of that, having an imbalance in your lower body can lead to issues with walking and pain in your hips, knees, ankles and lower back. Lunges and step ups are some of my favorite split stance exercises. They challenge your core strength and balance as you perform each movement.
Rotational and Lateral Movements
As modern day humans, we tend to move forward and backwards. Rarely do we train our bodies moving side to side and as a result, we tend to lack control and stability in the lateral planes. This is why you hear of people throwing out their backs while turning to grab something out of the back seat. This is where rotational and lateral movements come in to save the day. Performing movements such as wood chops and lateral band walks can do wonders on establishing total core stability.
So in conclusion, make your strength training simple. Strengthening all of the major planes of motion will help you address the basics. It is important to remember that all of these exercises are skills, so they must be practiced, perfected and progressed one step at a time. For demonstrations of these exercises, head over to my CK Health and Wellness YouTube channel.