I hear questions like this a lot:
What’s the best exercise for X (fill in the blank here- fat loss, conditioning, muscle growth)?
If you could pick one exercise to do forever what would it be?
What’s the best exercise for my _______ (again, fill in the blank- legs, abs, arms, etc)?
The reality is that there are no “best” exercises because it all comes down to your goals. Are you trying to lean out and lose fat? Are you trying to improve your performance? Are you trying to just stay generally fit and feel good?
All of those are valid goals, and most of the people that we work with at Durbrow Performance Training have a nice combination of all of them. That’s what makes training our crew so much fun.
Even if you’re not an “athlete” I truly believe that everyone should train in an athletic manner. This means that there should be some scalable level of:
The important thing to note is that all of the things I listed above are SCALED. That means a sprint for one person is not a sprint for another, maybe it’s using the agility ladder or going at a slower pace.
Training in an athletic style is more fun, it burns a lot of calories, it uses all the major muscle groups and it can be done typically pretty quickly and efficiently when it comes to time.
There are hundreds of great exercises and I believe that most have their place in some type of program. Variation is important and within every exercise you can change things like repetitions, tempo, weight and balance. These factors can often make it a totally different exercise.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I want to dive into my 3 favorite exercises and why they should always be in your program. This is based on the years of training I’ve done on myself and thousands of clients.
You’re probably thinking I’ll say something like Pull Ups, Dead Lifts and Squats. I mean, you get the most bang for your buck, right?
Yes and no.
Those are all crazy good exercises and I love to program them. However, this post is about the exercises that you should ALWAYS be doing. The three exercises that I’m about to show you are also ones that you can do with a lot of frequency, which is important for consistent improvement.
Lastly, they are very easy to teach, coach, set up and execute. There is a very low risk on each one, they are safe on the joints and they all address areas that 99.9% of people need improvement in.
So without further ado, here are the three MUST-DO exercises:
Why do I love these so much? They are great for improving shoulder mobility, shoulder health, posture and overall upper and mid-back strength. With the type of work that most people do, sitting at a computer or on their phone, the postural corrections are essential and nothing hits it quite like the BPA.
Larger movements like TRX Rows, 1-Arm Rows and Chin Ups are excellent but the BPA is so simple, can be done in higher volumes (and even every day) and targets the smaller muscles in the mid-back that often get neglected because they can’t fire correctly during a larger movement.
How to use the Band Pull Aparts: 3-5 sets of 15-20 per day, at least 3 days per week
2. Bulgarian Split Squats– This is my go-to #1 movement for the lower body. It’s a great exercise to develop strength in the legs and I’m a huge fan of unilateral movements (single sided) because they are much safer and decrease the spinal compression that you might see on a squat or even a dead lift.
The other thing I love about this exercise is the added core and balance development.
The third major thing that makes this a winner is the many ways that you can load this. You can use body weight, chains, dumbbells at your sides, a kettlebell racked in the front, or even bands.
From a beginner who could load this just with their own body weight to an advanced trainee to load this with chains and kettlebells, the movement is just stellar.
Plus if you want to develop strong, lean and totally bad ass legs, this is a MUST for your programming.
How to use the Bulgarian Split Squats: 2-4 sets of 10-20 reps per leg, 1-2 times per week
3. Sled Work- pushing, pulling or dragging a sled is my #3 movement because it’s so safe on the joints and produces virtually zero soreness the next day because there is no eccentric component. That means that you’re not having to “slow down” the weight like if you were lowering yourself down into a squat. That’s the most taxing part of an exercise and there’s none of that when working on the sled.
Other benefits of the sled are increased cardiovascular work, the ability to perform higher volume to build up your stamina, multiple ways to load it (you can go heavy and for short distances, light and short distances for sprints, or moderate weight and longer distances) and you can pull, push or drag in all different directions.
Sleds are great as a stand alone training tool, use them on a conditioning day and just perform multiple sets or you can use them during a circuit. Another great way is at the end of a training session, performing 3-4 sets for 50 to 100 feet or our personal favorite, 5 minutes of team pushing (3-4 people) and see how many sets you can complete in the time.
How to use the Sled: 3-4 sets of 50 to 100 feet, mix up the weights from day to day, 1-3 times per week
Looking great and losing fat is awesome of course, but you want to make sure you’re focusing on your long term health and overall longevity of your body. Create the total package with your body- strong, healthy, mobile, energetic and looking damn good.
All of the exercises I spoke about are ones that require a full range of motion, they don’t beat up your body but they do get results. These are the types of movements we always incorporate into our training at DPT. If you’re struggling to get results and your body just doesn’t feel the way you want it to, check out our risk-free 21 Day Academy Jump Start program:
Here’s a quick video of a great Kettlebell Complex in our group training session.
The progression is:
Clients are going through this sequence for 6 total repetitions (1 rep of each equals one total rep)[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlmuVB4an80&feature=c4-overview&list=UUJtsBsVjTRzjhjf5nJAhJOQ[/youtube]
For a 21 day Metabolism Kick-Start click here
Here’s a clip of our Sunday Women’s Only Strength Class.
The ladies are finishing up a circuit of Sled Drags with the Prowler and Sandbag Walking Lunges.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH2_S2x7GRw&feature=c4-overview&list=UUJtsBsVjTRzjhjf5nJAhJOQ[/youtube]
For a 21 Day Metabolism Kick-Start, Click HERE
Here’s a quick video of our gym in Somerville. This is a small group personal training session. In this particular training session each station has two exercises and clients will repeat the prescribed reps at each exercise within the station for 5 minutes.
Then there is a 2 minute rest and rotation to the next station. There are four stations for a total of eight exercises.
Station #1- Kettlebell Swings x10 and DB Push Press x10
Station #2- TRX Rows x10 and Valslide Tricep Extensions x8
Station #3- Physio Ball Ab Roll Out x10 and Side Planks x10/side
Station #4- Jump Squats and Heavy Jump Rope x15[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei8dmYM52vY&feature=c4-overview&list=UUJtsBsVjTRzjhjf5nJAhJOQ[/youtube]
One of our small group personal training clients hits a personal best in the box jump of 47 inches.
Check out the video here….
If you’re interested in finding out how you can get lean, fit and energized then just click here for a free 60 minute training consultation with Callie
I want to keep today’s post really simple. Here’s what happens when you start training, get back into training, or ramp up your training.
This is a true statement for the majority of people, unless you are some genetic freak of nature. If that’s the case then I hate you and your perfect abdominal genes.
Kidding, kidding of course.
Back to the point of this post. I have so many people that come to me and want to lose body fat. Often and obviously the first question is, “how long will it take?”
Patience young grasshopper.
Unless you are the above-stated genetic freak, it will take some time. I’m not here to burst your bubble and say it will never happen but you have to adopt the proper lifestyle tactics in order for it to happen and for you to maintain and continue to progress.
Basically here’s what happens….
You start for the first time, or pick up again, on a properly designed strength training program with a couple days of higher intensity conditioning training plus a healthy, energy boosting and lifestyle supportive eating plan.
Your body has to adapt and certain things happen in certain ways. Here’s the breakdown:
Step #1- You make strength gains (aka you can lift heavier weight, do more push ups, etc)
Step #2- You see performance gains (more endurance and stamina, better technique, exercises feel more natural)
Step #3- You drop body fat (yes!)
Step #4- You gain lean muscle
This can fall into different time frames depending on the individual, and the more that you tie in all three aspects- strength training, conditioning and nutrition, the better and faster these changes will occur.
If you need a jump start into your training then click here for a 21 day kick start membership.
Exercise doesn’t work?
Sounds like a strange statement coming from someone who gets people to exercise and train for a living.
What the hell is this chick talking about? I thought I had to exercise in order to lose fat.
The point I want to make here is that exercise won’t work by itself for fat loss. You have to dial in your nutrition. It’s 100% imperative that you eat foods that will support your fat loss goals.
If you try to exercise, train your ass off and outwork a bad diet, you’re going to be in for a really long road.
What’s the point in busting your butt in the gym only to continue to eat like crap and just spend your life like a hamster on a wheel?
Think about it. You’re training hard so you’re certainly burning a lot of calories and boosting your metabolism in that 1-2 day window after a hard training session. That’s great.
Today’s Sunday Training Spotlight is one of my favorites. Sarah and I have been talking about doing a spotlight for months, literally. Sarah has undergone an incredible transformation in the physical sense, but her attitude and confidence is what stands out most to me. She was hesitant to write about herself but I assured her that this would be one of the most popular spotlights because of the amazing effort and dedication she has put into her new lifestyle.
Check out Sarah D’s story here….
When my friend Chet suggested I come and try Durbrow Performance Personal Training for the $21 for 21 days I had every intention of trying the 21 days then going back to my other gym and workouts.
Little did I know that not only would I be gaining a refreshed love for exercise and a supportive training family but no desire to return to my old gym. I had been doing the same strength class at my gym for probably two years with the same people two days a week and never got to know any of them. I enjoyed the trainer a lot but it was up to you to figure out when to move up in weight and no one to push you out of your comfort zone.
I grew up as the shy overweight kid and before DPT I had lost 75 lbs going to weekly meetings, eating low fat foods and counting food stats but reached a point where I couldn’t reach my ultimate weight loss goal.
The focus was always on that number. I started forcing activity in my life as much as possible for example joined my company softball team, started running 5K races with friends and classes at my gym. But it was still hard to make myself a priority.
When training for fat loss and overall strength it’s important to structure your training as efficiently as possible to meet those goals.
Your week should simply be 3 days of full body strength work and 2 days of interval style conditioning. Mix a day of yoga for recovery and mobility and you’re good to go.
On your strength days the training should include all the basic movements:
Here’s an example of a training session that meets all those categories:
I get this question a lot….what should I do for cardio?
My answer is simple. Sprints.
If you are training properly with weights and resistance 2-3 days per week, adding 2 days of higher intensity sprint training is going to skyrocket your results.
When I talk about sprinting, that means an all out effort. But, at first it’s an all out effort for YOU. When you start out, you’re not going to be a Carl Lewis but as you get used to it and you supplement with your strength training, you will get faster.
The key is to push your effort during each set. This is not traditional cardio where you have to maintain a certain speed for several minutes. You’ll be done in 15-30 seconds so give it your all and then rest.
Here are just a few reasons why sprinting is awesome:
1. You will lose fat
A study from 1994 supported the theory that sprints are superior to steady state cardio for fat loss in a shorter amount of time.
Participants did either 20 weeks of steady-state aerobic training or 15 weeks of intervals (15 sprints for 30 seconds each). The interval group lost nine times more body fat and 12 percent more visceral belly fat than the aerobic group.
A 2010 study found that just 6 sprint sessions of six 30-second all-out cycle sprints with 4 minutes rest over 2 weeks led to a leaner waist by 3 cm., and a much greater use of fat for fuel.