There are literally thousands of exercises–as many as you can imagine–all with funny names, some with special equipment. A lot of clients tell me they see other people doing “crazy” looking exercises, and ask why we never do them.
My answer: they’re not as efficient.
Exercise generally means motion–of any kind. But if your goal is to get fit, and get fit fast, you might like to know the more efficient route. This does not necessarily exclude other less efficient exercises; all exercises can find their place in a program, especially to mix things up.
Here they are, by type.
My Top Three Weighted Exercises
1) Squat Thruster - It’s what I call the motion popularly known as a “thruster.” Essentially, it is a front squat finished with a drive of the weight overhead. It is a compound movement, working the legs, back, core, shoulders and arms. It is explosive, exhausting, great for metabolic conditioning, and functional.
2) Power Clean - From the floor, part dead lift, the remainder a hang clean. It is a compound movement, working the legs, glutes, hips, hamstrings, lats, and shoulders. It is explosive, can be exhausting, is awesome in intervals, and highly functional.
3) Turkish Get Up – Generally demonstrated with a kettle bell, but applicable with any type of weight that can easily be grasped, it requires a person lying on the floor to achieve a standing position while not allowing the weight to come down from its overhead position. This is the most compound movement of the three listed here, and can tell a person a lot about his strengths and weaknesses, from core, to legs, to shoulder stability, mobility, and strength. It builds a tremendous amount of interconnected strength, and is great as a full-body recruitment exercise.
My Top Three Non-Weighted Exercises
1) Box Jumps – Explosive, light, and great for intervals. Box jumps can be low, rapid, and continuous; they can be high, less rapid, and more explosive. They super-set well with other leg exercises. They can be done anywhere there is a park bench, or a short rock or wall. It is high impact and encourages better bone density as well as better shock absorption through the legs. There are single-leg box jumps, heel-click box jumps, burpee-box jumps… doing just a few is an immediate interval workout.
2) Push-ups - Any time, any place, no equipment, no special clothing. Push-ups are incredible, easy to modify, and work far more than just the arms. The core contracts very tightly to keep the body in the plank position, and the legs contract from the toes all the way to the hips. There are more push-up variations than even I can list: girl push-ups, incline, decline, stability ball, bosu ball, 1-arm push-ups, power push-ups, “walking” push-ups, bungee push-ups, clapping push-ups, Hindu push-ups, dumbbell push-ups, scorpion push-ups, triangle push-ups, etc.
3) Burpees – Formerly known as squat thrusters (but not to be confused with what I call a squat thruster, which is what other people call a thruster), burpees are infamous for being uncomfortable, and for inducing the urge to burp up lunch. Rightly so. If there is one thing that makes for good exercises, it is a compound movement, and also motion that requires frequent changes in direction. From a standing position, the exerciser should place his hands on the ground, jump his feet back into a pushup position, jump them back in, stand up, and hop/jump. This is the most basic type of many gruelling variations of burpees. Burpees work the upper and lower legs, hip flexors, core, and shoulders. They also spike your heart rate through the roof. They are excellent for intervals, burning calories, and placing you back inside your body.