ONLY Four Exercises
I know that blogging 5x a week and coming up with readable content constantly is a high order, so I thought I would pose a question that I’m sure many, many people would love to read your answer to.
If you could only have FOUR exercises/movements to perform for the rest of your life, what would they be?
1. You have to exclude any PT/prehab/rehab exercises, and
2. You may only choose one variation of the exercise (i.e. you can’t have deadlifts; you have to choose conventional or trap bar etc).
Other than that, you can choose any movement you would like, including things like sprinting (which would be on my list). Oh yeah, and WHY for each one. Enjoy.
A: Wow, only four exercises? This is going to be quite the conundrum. I mean, that’s like asking me to choose between which Jessica is hotter: Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Jessica Simpson, or Jessica Rabbit.
I didn’t just make things weird, did I?
Anyways, when it comes to exercises that I feel are most beneficial, and ones that I know I’ll be rocking for the rest of my life, I revert to what I like to call the 180 Rule.
In short: walk into any commercial gym and what do you see? Chances are you’ll see every elliptical machine being used, every bench press station taken, guys loading up the leg press or blasting their biceps, and a waiting line for Zumba class.
I like to tell people to do the EXACT opposite – the 180 Rule
Rarely, if ever, do you see people really (and I mean REALLY) pushing themselves. They’d rather do the cybex circuit than perform a few sets of heavy deadifts. They’d rather grab the BOSU ball and do whatever the hell it is that people do on a BOSU ball than step inside a power rack and front squat. They’d rather watch television while walking on a treadmill than go to a stadium and do stair sprints till their legs feel like they have cement blocks attached to them.
In a word: people like to do what’s easy and what they’re good at. Is it any wonder, then, that many people are still frustrated that they look the same now as they did back when stone washed jeans were considered cool?
Okay, I’ll step off my soapbox now.
Nevertheless, if I had to choose only four exercises here’s what I’d pick:
1. Trap Bar Deadlifts: I love me some deadlifts, and you’d be hard pressed to convince me otherwise that trap bar deadlifts aren’t one of the best overall lower body exercises you can do.
For starters, due to the bar placement and body positioning, trap bar deadlifts tend to be a little more “user friendly.” Secondly, as someone who has banged up knees, TBDL’s have been a saving grace in that I can still get a fair amount of quad activation without my knees giving me the finger. Thirdly, I can really load these up and make people destroy the back of their pants.
2. Loaded Push-Ups: I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a horrible (HORRIBLE) bencher.
NOTE: Not as bad as Kevin Larrabee, though.
I have long arms, so I picked the wrong parents for having the ability to press a lot of weight off my chest. As such, for my money, push-ups are where it’s at.
While many are quick to deem push-ups as “too wimpy,” I’d say that more than half of the guys that come into Cressey Performance can’t perform ten bodyweight push-ups, let alone do them correctly. Sad, but true.
That said, push-ups have a lot of advantages:
- Since they’re a closed chain movement, they don’t beat the shoulders up as much (compared to the bench press).
- They’re a superb exercise to teach someone to engage their anterior (and posterior) core musculature. As I’ve noted in the past, improve your push-ups and more often than not, you’ll also see vast improvements in your squats and deadlifts as well.
- And, most important of all, they help develop a chest that can scratch diamonds.
3. HAS (Heavy as Shit) Farmer Carries: I won’t spend a lot of time on this one because Dan John has already done a fantastic job at bringing them to light in the past year or so, and it’s because of him that we’ve started to include these more and more into our programming at CP.
What don’t farmer carries work, really? They hammer the upper back and arms; they force you to engage your core (especially if you go with one-arm/offset variations); they’re awesome for developing hip stability; they help to improve grip strength; and they’re undoubtedly an MVP when it comes to overall conditioning. Nuff said.
4. Prowler Pushes: nothing makes me hate life more than pushing the Prowler – which should tell you why I love them so much. I remember reading something from Mike Boyle where he described heavy sled pushes as more of a “functional leg press,” and I couldn’t agree more.
Think about it: you’re essentially pushing yourself AWAY from the floor with each step. What’s more, you can also think of sled pushes (or drags) as single leg training – so you’ve got your bases covered there as well. Specifically, you get some great hip extension with the pushes.
Moreover, from a conditioning standpoint, nothing really compares. They don’t call it “Prowler Flu” for nothing.
Man, that was tough. It’s really hard to narrow it down to just four – but those would be it.
Honorable Mentions: chin-ups, chest supported rows, kettlebell swings, boobies.
So, lets have it everyone. What would you pick?