The Five Best Exercises You Are Not Doing
There is nothing wrong with your workout plan. The most important aspect of exercise and training is performing it. As long as every session is moving toward your goal, whether it is health, appearance or performance, then the right plan is in place. I’m just here to suggest some exercises that may not be part of the program and can add some benefit. There is no need to add all of these movements at once and if trained with intensity, be sure to strike another exercise off the list.
Think of farmer’s walks as a moving plank. Keeping the hips level and spine straight while moving with external resistance will the give the core an unbelievable core stability workout. The heavier the resistance (while maintaining proper form), the more stimuli to increase grip, leg and back strength that will translate into improved performance in other lifts. In addition, keeping the chest proud and shoulders pulled into their sockets will increase rotator cuff strength and enhance posture. Executing this exercise with only one loaded side or weight held above the head will drastically increase the difficulty.
Cable Face Pull
Most rows and pulls concentrate on the lower musculature of the back. Face pulls (using the rope attachment to pull the middle toward the nose with the elbows up) will increase strength on the upper lats, traps and rhombus. These are the muscles responsible for preventing the shoulders from rounding forward. Regular use of this exercise will aid in posture and standing or half-kneeling while performing it will add a whole body stability component.
Swiss Ball Leg Curls
Did you know that the hamstrings and glutes are always supposed to work together during hip extension and knee flexion? Hamstring strains and tears occur everyday in those who train these muscles separately with machine leg curls. By squeezing the glutes and pushing the hips up as the heels curl toward them the body is learning synchronize these muscles. Watch the squat and deadlift improve as a result of this newfound motor ability. Perform with the heels sliding on the floor with a Val-Slide or Slideboard to up the intensity.
Single Leg Squat to Box
When both legs are on the ground, many of the hip stabilizes are not worked to their full potential. Single leg squatting down to a knee height box places a much greater emphasis on the gluteus medius, quadratus lumborum and the adductors than bilateral lifts ever could. Increasing strength in these stabilizers will then transfer to all other lower body training. In order to maximize this exercise, progress from squatting to the box, to squatting on top of the box, to removing the box all together. It’s important to use proper form and a controlled tempo. PLEASE DO NOT bang, slam, fall into the box with zero control. I see this often and it almost always leads to injuries. Control is EVERYTHING!
Core stability, hip mobility, shoulder stability and tension throughout the whole body, what’s not to love about this exercise? Performing this movement with opposite limbs moving at once will improve coordination and helps develop the motor cortex of the brain. This exercise can also be used in a variety of settings: as part of the warm-up routine, between sets as a mobility exercise or as part of a high intensity interval routine. Try a tabata (20 seconds moving, 10 seconds resting for 8 sets) with these crawls and a newfound respect for Peter Parker will suddenly appear.