Do you know what one of the hardest physical things you do, when done with ease, will instantly improve your quality of life? Let me leave you with this thought, but first a story.
When I was working at a gym in Mesquite Texas, a retried nurse came looking for my help after a terrible accident. She was out for a Sunday morning stroll in her neighborhood enjoying the weather and surroundings until something terrible happened. Unbeknown to her, she encountered some rough terrain, lost her balance, and fell flat on her face.
Falling down is something you all do, no matter your age, although this becomes a bigger deal as you age. But that wasn’t the real problem because she could not get up. Nothing was broken and she was a little battered and bruised but she couldn’t get off the ground. She lay there for over 30 minutes until someone came to pick her off the ground.
Getting up from the ground is a big deal. Do you know how to improve your quality of life? If you answered your ability to get up and down from the ground, I’ll give you a virtual high five.
Good work. But before I get to how to improve your quality of life with this ability, first a little test
Up Down Test
Can you get up and down from the ground? Sure, you can but can you do it without using your hands or knees. This sounds simple but there’s a catch. You will subtract a point from 5 each time you use a hand or your knee during this test. Sit down to the ground and then get up from the ground without thinking about it a great deal. Do it now. I’ll be waiting.
Get down (- 1 point for each hand/knee that touches the ground from 5)
Get up (-1 point for each hand/knee that touches the ground from 5)
Total (Your score, up to 10)
If you get a score of 8 and above, you’ve got nothing to worry about. If you score 7 or below, you need to be concerned about your quality of life. Big deal you say. However, once you get older and reach a certain age getting up and down from the ground becomes a bigger deal. A life and death deal. Because when you fall and you can’t get up, you’re two to three times more likely to meet your maker. (1)
4 Exercises To Help Improve Your Quality Of Life
If you scored 7 or below you need to improve your mobility and strength. Even if your get up and down off the ground fine it is advisable to work on your strength and mobility because IMO you can never get enough of it. Here are 4 exercises to improve your quality of life.
Trap Bar Deadlift Or Squat
If you want to be able to get up and down from the ground, there is no avoiding the squat or hinge movement. Barbell and dumbbell squats are great, but the trap bar is more forgiving on the lower back because your hips are more in line with the weight which puts less stress on your spine. Also, the raised, neutral handles you in a better starting position, as their range of motion is reduced, and your grip is naturally stronger in a neutral position. Whether you squat or deadlift with the trap bar it will build leg and grip strength which are both needed to get off the ground.
How to do it: Hinge or squat down (your choice) and grab either side of the trap bar. Squeeze your armpits, get your chest up and push your feet through the floor until lockout. Slowly hinge or squat back until the weights touch the floor and reset and repeat.
Programming suggestions: This is an ideal exercise to build strength and muscle. If you’re new to this exercise stay in the 8-15 rep range with moderate weight doing 2-4 sets. If you’re ready to build some strength 3-4 sets of between 4-6 reps is a good starting point.
Strange name, great exercise. This exercise you are literally getting up and down from the ground. There are several separate movements in this exercise and if you haven’t done it before it’s better to break these movements up and learn each one. This exercise requires balance, stability, strength, mobility, and total body coordination. Yes, this exercise is difficult but once you get a handle on it, you’ll never worry about having to get off the ground again. It’s an exercise with the lot.
How to do it: There are many moving parts to this exercise so please use the video reference above. Basically, the goal of the Get-Up is to get yourself from the ground up to a standing position and then back down again. Starting with your arm overhead do a series of moves (in the video) where you gradually ascend to sitting, kneeling, and then standing. Then you reverse then move to get back down to the ground.
Programming suggestion: If you’re able to do the whole get-up doing 3-5 reps per side for a couple of sets works well. If you’re breaking it up into parts, then do 5 reps on each part (phase 1, phase 2. phase 3, and phase 4) for 3 sets on each side at the start of your training
To get up and down from the ground, you’re most likely going to end up in the half-kneeling position. This is what the split squat is, getting up and down from the half-kneeling position. The split squat improves leg strength, strengthens imbalances between sides, and improves your balance and stability. This strengthens your quads and glutes which are essential for sexy legs and your ability to get up and down from the ground. Yes, they suck but they are good for you.
How to do it: if you have never done this before do the assisted or bodyweight versions in the video above. Get into a half-kneeling position, knee underneath hip and ankle underneath the knee. With your shoulders down and chest up drive your front foot through the floor and raise to a standing position. Slowly return to the half-kneeling position and repeat.
Programming suggestion: Sorry, these are an exercise you will love to hate. But like I said, they are good for you. Whether doing bodyweight or weighted split squats, 2-3 sets of 8-15 reps on each leg will give you all you can handle.
Dumbbell Floor Press
To get up from the ground, you’re going to have to push yourself up. The are many great exercises to build pushing strength but this one is easier to perform and a little easier on the shoulder joint. Because the reduced range of motion limits shoulder external rotation which can be a problem for your shoulder. Plus, this puts more focus on the triceps to help build much-needed triceps lockout strength to help push you up from the ground.
How to do it: Lying on your back with a dumbbell beside you, roll to the side, grab the dumbbell with both hands, and then rollback. Press the dumbbell up with both hands and then take one hand off. You can have your feet on the ground or legs extended. Your choice. Slowly lower to the ground until your upper arm touches the floor and then press up until lockout.
Programming suggestion: Due to the stability of the floor and the reduced range of motion this exercise is better done for triceps, shoulder, and chest muscles and strength. 3–4 sets of anywhere between 6-15 reps on both sides is a great starting point.
Getting up and down from the ground is one of the hardest physical things you have to do. When you lose your ability to do it, your quality of life goes down. Better to do one or more of these four exercises above so you can crush life and look awesome.