Don’t non-negotiable exercises sound like they are my way or the highway? Well, it’s my blog, and I’ll write what I want, but you should know exercise is non-negotiable. The vanity, physical, and mental benefits of raising a sweat and feeling your muscles burning are undeniable.

Exercise is not just a routine but a powerful tool you wield. Through your exercise choices, you have complete control over enhancing the quantity and quality of your life. I often share with my clients the two personal reasons that drive me to push myself physically, and they go beyond mere vanity.

1. When my kids challenge me physically, I will still try to wipe the floor with them.

2. I will go down swinging when the Grim Reaper comes for me.

As someone over 50 and training people around that age bracket, I’ve discovered three beneficial and crucial exercises for improving the quality of life and the quality of flex time. These exercises are not up for negotiation, and after learning about them, you’ll understand why.

My Criteria For Non-Negotiable Exercises

There is always a method in the madness of my head, and here it is.

You cannot take for granted the things you take for granted as a child as an adult. Qualities like being able to balance on one leg, get up and down from the floor, and bend over or squat without pain come naturally as a child but become challenging as an adult.

So, non-negotiable exercises are movements that make up your daily activities, and you do them whether you like to or not. When you perform one or more of these exercises regularly as part of your routine, they will improve the quality of your life and the time you spend looking in the mirror.

They’re not easy, but they are worth it. Let’s get into it.

Three Non-Negotiable Exercises

Okay, I lied a little bit, as there is some negotiation. With all three non-negotiable exercises, there is some wiggle room in the variations of those exercises.

Split Squats

It pains me to include split squats here, but they have too many benefits to ignore. The reduced base of support improves your balance by default. When you perform these with good form and load, you’ll feel your weight shift from side to side and your core kick in to keep you upright.

But wait, there is more.

On the back leg, as it lowers towards the floor, actively stretches the hip flexors, muscles that tend to get tight as we age. This can restrict the ability to bring your knees up and extend your hips, which is essential for locomotion and if you want glutes that pop.

Depending on the variation, your quads and glutes work hard to pull you up from your squat to improve vanity, balance, and function. Yes, they do suck, but there are too many benefits for healthy aging that are too good to ignore.   

Perform: Once or twice per week.

Sets & Reps: Two to four sets of six to 15 reps.

Variations From Easy To Hard: Assisted split squat, Bodyweight split squat, Goblet split squat, Bodyweight rear foot elevated split squat, and the Goblet rear foot elevated split squat.

Loaded Carries

Picking up and carrying stuff in our hands or opening jars of food are things we are likely to do daily. So, it’s one of those traits we tend to forget about. ·

Although all of us are born with grip strength, if you don’t use it as you get older, you will lose it. Grip strength is essential to lift heavy weights, open a jar, or hang on from the edge of a cliff for dear life. Most importantly, a firm grip helps you live longer and improves the quality and quantity of your life. (1)

Your grip is one of those things that gets taken for granted until you really want pickles on your hamburgers. Grip strength is not the only benefit, as regularly performing load carries will improve shoulder, core, and hip strength. More strength as we age is a good thing.

Carries are simple but not easy things to improve your health.

Perform: Two to three times per week.

Sets & Reps: one to three sets walking between 20 to 100 yards, depending on load and your goals.

Variations From Easy To Hard: Dumbbell farmers carry, Dumbbell suitcase carry, Chaos kettlebell carry, Trap bar carry, Dumbbell or kettlebell overhead carry.

Unilateral Dumbbell Rows

It is tempting to train only the mirror muscles—the chest, arms, and shoulders—because when you flex in front of a mirror, that shows. As important as it is to improve the size and strength of those muscles, it’s more important to strengthen the muscles you cannot see.

The muscles I’m referring to are the lats but, more importantly, the upper back. These muscles between your shoulder blades not only look sexy when they are developed but are also needed for shoulder health and mobility. Furthermore, a strong, mobile upper back is also required for good standing posture.

Unilateral dumbbell rows will also be.

  • Increase upper body strength.
  • Decreases strength imbalances between sides
  • Increase grip strength
  • Strengthen your anti-rotation core muscles, which protect the lower back.

All this makes unilateral dumbbell rows a non-negotiable exercise.

Perform: Two to three times per week.

Sets & Reps: Two to four sets of six (strength-based) and 15 (muscle-building-based) reps.

Variations From Easy To Hard: Supported singe-arm row, lawnmower row, 3-point row, deadstop row, split-stance row, and RDL row.

Wrapping Up

All movements are good, but some are more important than others, especially as one ages. These three exercises are non-negotiable for maintaining your quality of life and remaining healthy and strong. Not only will they help you crush life, but they will also make you sexier.

It is a win-win.

If you need assistance incorporating these exercises into your routine, message me here.

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