6 must do moves

I’m a big believer in keeping exercise simple because the rest of your life is already complicated. With that in mind, every time you step inside a gym, you should be doing one or more of these six moves.

These will keep you strong and better able to withstand whatever life throws at you.  There’s nothing sexy or difficult about these moves and you probably already know what they are, you may just be avoiding them.

However, no matter what your health and fitness goals are, you’ll need to include these into your routine because

  • They will make you strong and stronger is always better
  • They will give you all the results you seek

Yes, you can still do your curls in front of the mirror but only if you grunt.

1. Squats

I‘m not a fan of squats and generally avoid them like the plague. With long legs and a short torso I’ve always found them very difficult because the weight (me) has to move through a large range of motion.

However, I bite the bullet because squats are a fundamental human movement that we perform every day, and they were programmed into our brains while safely in our mother’s womb. Have you ever seen a child squat?

Baby-squat
I rest my case

 

As we grow older and sit more and move less, we lose our ability to squat like a child. Rather than putting a barbell on your back and doing knee bends and complaining that squats hurt your knees, reawaken your squat ability with these exercises.

A. Bodyweight box squat

B.  Stability ball squat

 

If you feel comfortable with those and can knock out reps of 12-15 reps with good form, step up to the goblet squat. It may be the only squat exercise you’ll ever need.

C. Goblet squat

 

2. Groundwork

There’s more to groundwork than just lying on the ground and crunching like a mad man. Groundwork is how we learned to move as infants and returning to the floor can help you reactivate neglected movement patterns.

The ground provides us with stability, balance and feedback and is an ideal place to start you warm up before you crush the weights.  Incorporating some of the following moves may get you some strange looks but trust me, you’ll be the coolest person in the gym.

A. Deadbug

B. Rolling

C. Rocking

D. Crawling

 

3. Pushing

This move has also been installed into our hardware. This is why we know how to push ourselves away from the floor  when lying face down or push our siblings out of the way when they’re bothering us, without even batting an eyelid.

push ups 2
Don’t mess with Chuck

Pushing is a movement we do every day without even realizing it, so it makes sense to strengthen this movement in the gym so we can remain injury free and push aside anything that this world throws at us.

Try these pushing variations rather than bench pressing for a change.

A. OS push up

B. One arm wall push up

C. Overhead med ball throw

 

4. Pulling

When we were babies, we’d pull ourselves up on a stable object to a standing position in an attempt to walk while using the object for support. Did anybody teach us that? No, because this movement is already hotwired into our brains.

walking baby
I was just looking for an excuse to use a baby picture

Pulling something towards us is a natural movement that is often neglected in the gym. However, working those big strong muscles of the back will improve your posture, give you sexy shoulders and work also on the gun show.

Like you needed an excuse.

A. Cable single arm row

B. Tall kneeling lat pulldown

C. Bent over row

 

5. Hip hinging

Using the hips like they were intended to be used will make you a boss in the gym and your partner a happy person in the bedroom. Yes, the hips are that powerful. A lot of athletic movements on the sporting arena have hip hinging/hip extension as their base.

football
Ready to strike

Furthermore, incorrect use of the hips is one of the major causes of low back pain and hinging correctly will keep the back happy. It also helps you look great in your favorite pair of pants.

 

A. Hip hinge with stick

B. Wall hip hinge with stick

C. Dumbbell deadlift

 

6. Carries

Think about how many times per week you carry stuff around in your hands. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.  Twice, five, ten times?  Now doesn’t it make sense to train this ability in the gym to make your life easier?  I’d thought you’d see it my way. J

Carries will improve your grip, upper back, shoulders and leg strength. They are quite possibility the biggest bang for your buck exercise, providing numerous benefits.

But be warned, carries are simple but not easy.

A. Farmers carry

B. Suitcase carry

C. Overhead carry

 

Wrapping up

 Performing fundamental human movements will benefit you in and outside of the gym with increased strength and resilience. Exercise doesn’t need to be complicated, it just needs to be effective.

Need help with programming fundamental movements into your program? Contact me here with the subject line “programming.”

 

 

 

 

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Why do you lift?

When I first saw this, I laughed so hard I nearly fell out of my chair.  I’ve been lifting for the better part of 25 years, and with skinny arms and legs I definitely don’t look like I lift.  If he questioned me, I would have to come clean.

However, here’s a better question. Why do you lift?

Ponder that for a moment.

Around 25 years ago, I was hanging out with my longtime friend Simon, shooting the breeze and talking smack when out of the clear blue sky he had a strange request.

“Lift up your shirt,” he demanded

“Why?” I asked.  The look he gave me suggested I do it or else, so I did.

“Mate, you really need to hit the gym,” he said.

He was right. I was 6’1 and weighed 145 pounds (66 kg) soaking wet. I had a concave chest, poor posture and almost no muscle tone. The very next day I joined a gym and started doing bicep curls.

bicep

(Curls are the go-to exercise for gym goers who have no idea what they’re doing)

When I first started pumping iron, vanity was my main motivator.  Being skinny and lacking a little self-confidence, I wasn’t a real hit with the ladies. I wanted some size, I wanted some action and the iron was going to help me get both.

And I’m sure if you asked most gym goers, vanity would be their number one reason for torturing themselves. However, since I’ve gotten older, balder and any looks I did possess have faded away, I decided that exercising just for vanity’s sake wasn’t cutting the mustard anymore.

Being a married middle-aged man with two young sons, I had to come up with some better reasons to get out of bed and lift. After some self-reflection, here’s what I came up with.

Being role model for my kids and clients

Being a father and personal trainer, I constantly strive set a good example for my kids and clients. Nobody wants to work with a trainer who looks out of shape.

Self-care

 Exercise is not meant to fix you. You’re already wonderfully made, but you were only given one body and you need to take care of it, as I do. Lifting weights plays an integral role in this.

Maintain my movement

When you’re a kid, running, jumping, hopping, skipping and playing is easy. When you get older, not so much. Staying strong and resilient becomes more important as we age. Plus, I still want to play and keep up with my boys.

After losing my hair…

I’ve never wanted to fit the stereotype of the married man who let himself go. I try to stay lean because being both bald and fat is unacceptable in my humble opinion.

I might not look like I lift but I have few good reasons for why I lift. What are yours?

 

 

Advanced core training

Gym goers are often confused on what it takes to advance their core training. Common errors include

-People crunching like they’re having some sort of fit (call 911). This is my favorite 🙂

-Holding their planks for too long or with poor form

– Terrible exercise selection

– Avoiding core training altogether

With a little thinking outside the crunch, (catchy right?) these mistakes can be avoided and you can start getting results while having a little fun in the process. Use the following routines to advance your core training to the next level.

  1. Core interval training

Combining your strength, cardio and core into one workout saves you time and helps you get the results you deserve without boring yourself to death on the treadmill. It’s also a great way to get your sweat on in the gym, on the road or in the comfort on your own home.

Instructions– Perform the bodyweight exercise as quickly as you can with good form for 20 seconds. During the 10 second rest period get into your plank position and hold for 20 seconds then rest for 10 seconds afterwards. Alternate between the two exercises for a total of 4 rounds of each. Complete all four supersets if you dare.

1a. Bodyweight jump squat

1b. Front plank

2a. Ice-skaters

2b. Side plank

3a. Triple extensions

3b. Front plank shoulder taps

4a. Reverse lunge with kick *

4b. Side plank rotations *

*For the side planks and reverse lunges, one side = one round and alternate sides.

  1. Core circuits

Adding core exercises into your resistance training circuits is a great way to add in extra core work. This can act as an active rest between exercises, allowing you to do more work in less time.

For example

1A. Split squat, forward/reverse lunge variations 8-12 reps

1B. Bilateral upper body exercise (Push up, shoulder press etc.) 8 -12 reps

1C. Half kneeling Pallof press – 30 seconds on each side.

Or

1A. Any squat or deadlift variation 3- 6 reps

1B. Tall kneeling overhead Pallof press 12reps   

1C. Chin ups or lat pulldowns 8-12 reps

Including any leg, upper body or core exercise works well here.  Changing it up will keep you engaged and prevent you from getting too bored with your training.

  1. Core finisher

If you like to feel the burn or you ate badly last night, adding this diabolical four minute plank finisher at the end of your usual training will put your core to the sword.

Instructions- Hold a front plank for 20 seconds and then transfer into a side plank and hold for 10 seconds. Then go back to the front plank for 20 seconds then transfer to the other side for a side plank for 10 seconds. Do this for a total of 4 minutes.  Good times.

  1. Core cardio

Combining low impact/high intensity cardio with core exercises will help improve your core stability/ hip mobility which will have you dominating in and out of the gym. Who thought cardio could be this much fun?  Try this and find out for yourself.

  1. Battle ropes/ Side plank combo

Instructions – Do any rope variation for 30 seconds and then immediately get into side plank. Make sure to breathe down into your belly and engage your glutes. Hold this for 30 seconds. Go back to the battle ropes for other 30 second interval and do the side plank on the opposite side. Repeat this sequence for total of 10 minutes.

  1. Kettlebell Swings/RKC Front Plank

 Instructions- Do 20 kettlebell swings and then immediately get into an RKC Front plank. Once you have hit full tension take 10 deep inhales (and exhales) while maintaining full tension. Repeat the kettlebell-plank sequence for 5- 10 rounds.

Wrapping up

 Combining your core training into your regular resistance /cardiovascular routine will save you time, keep your training interesting and will help get you strong. Stronger is always better

Fatherhood, fitness and faith

Balance Guy Training

A couple best days of my life have been the birth of my two boys. They’re the gifts that keep on giving. And giving and giving…

From 2005-2009, I was a stay-at-home father, before it was cool, like it is today.  Now day’s dads are saddling up at home more than ever. According to study from the Pew research center, nationally stay at home fathers’ number around 2 million in 2012 up from 1.1 million in 1989. It’s time for fathers to share the load as well, right guys?

As most stay-at-home dads will attest, there’s nothing ‘cool’ about changing stinky diapers, messy meals times or getting by on minimal sleep. Not mention the endless repeats of Teletubbies, Barney and Friends and Elmo Potty. Dark days indeed. If I ever see strained veggies and bottled formula again, it will be too soon.

However, being a father of two boys has…

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