Doing resistance training on your own is a lot like going to the flea market every weekend and walking out with the same things all the time (not sure how I came up with this analogy, but we’ll see if I can make it work). You have a ton of crap to choose from, but you always pick the same things over and over again, because that’s what you’re comfortable with. Most people choose which exercises to do by referencing one or more of 3 places:
1) The gym meathead – This guy is huge and jacked, so clearly he must be doing everything right. You mimic him thinking you’ll get the same results eventually.
2) Old high school weightlifting programs – This is usually the “retired” football player who tries to remember some of the things they did during there off-season training program. Most of the time, people always forget that they use to squat in those days.
3) Magazine/Online Articles – This resource can typically be linked back to the meathead as well. Most of the programs found in fitness magazines are very similar if you actually look at them. Maybe they change an exercise or two here and there, but overall it’s pretty repetitive, a lot like the meatheads workout.
Not to say that you can’t get good, quality work out of following one of these resources advice, we all have at some point or another (I’ve actually been both the meathead follower and the meathead….good times). But most of the programs you’ll get from something like this will be lacking in one category or another and hopefully this list will give you a little insight to what you can add to your training to take you a step closer to your goals.
1) The Carry Family
I could have very easily written this whole article about this family of exercises alone (actually, now that I think about it, I did write a whole article about these exercises, find it HERE) but thought it was best to expand on a couple of more exercises. The carry family includes, progressive order (easiest to hardest), the goblet carry, the suitcase carry, the waiter carry and the farmer’s carry. All of these variations have their benefits, so don’t just stick to one. Always be smart and start light. With the farmer’s carry, you know you’ve made it when you can carry half of your body weight in each hand.
2) The Goblet Squat
I realize that some people do squat, which is great because everybody should squat. I also realize that most people squat wrong and that includes a lot of “veteran” weightlifters. The goblet squat will help fix that. Hold a kettlebell ot dumbbell in front of your chest, feet hip with apart, a slowly squat between your legs, letting your elbows rub on the insides of your thighs at the bottom of the movement. This is something that can be done every day because it is a basic human movement that should be mastered by everyone.
This is one that most people stray from because they can’t do them correctly, or can’t do them at all. Problem is everybody wants to do a pullup, which is what you see all the meatheads do (wide, pronated grip). This is the hardest form of the pull/chinup family so starting there is crazy. Using a supinated and a band for added support, anybody can do these. Just be sure to keep yourself under control and remember to retract your shoulder blades as you pull.
I realize this is simple, and I’m sure you’re wondering “why is this guy telling me to do pushups….they’re so easy….he must not know what he’s talking about”. Well, there’s always a chance you’re right, but incase you’re not, pushups are one of the most butchered exercises I see in the gym day in and day out. As simple as they may seem, it’s sad to think that most high athletes can’t perform a pushup correctly, and don’t get me started on the offensive lineman who can bench press 300+ pounds but can’t do ONE pushup. Kevin (in the video above) is 50, has his feet elevated (which makes it harder) and is touching his chest to a plate each rep…..and does 20 reps, no saggy butt, no flaring elbows. If you can’t do a proper pushup, elevate your shoulders.
5) Kettlebell Swings
Sorry for not having an example of this, but I felt it needed to be in here because of its versatility. The swing is a great way to develop power, driving your hips through the kettlebell with lots of force. On top of that, the swing can be used as a great conditioning exercise as well as a great way to get that butt lift you’ve been looking for. Remember to always keep your back flat and move through your HIPS. The swing is not a squatting motion. This is the most common mistake I see with swings is bending too much through the knees and not hinging at your hips. Don’t forget to start light.
Now that you have a couple of new exercises to try, or old exercises to master, get out of your comfort zone and put them in today. All of these exercises include the basic human movements, which, again, are important to master. A wiser man than myself once said “If it’s important, do it every day”.