In this very non-scientific, highly biased list, I present to you my 5 favorite exercises.
They might not be your favorites, or you might not have ever done them. I’ll explain where to start on them if they are new to you. If you have questions, let me know please!
What are your favorites? Comment below or email me! email@example.com
Why: Deadlifts are the kings of the lifts! Deadlifts are just so much fun. You can typically lift the most weight of any lift on the deadlift. It’s an ego booster, it’s a progress driver, and there are many ways to do the deadlift. Carryover to real life is great.
You can do the deadlift safely. Remember: you are in charge! You do not have to lift as heavy as you can, you do not have to go for a max. You get to decide if you do 50% of your 1 rep max or use them as an accessory. Heck, you don’t even have to know your max.
What they do for you: Deadlifts are great for your whole posterior: your back, glutes, hamstrings. They work your arms, your traps, your legs. They teach you how to move weight, and move weight safely which you will likely have to do someday. Deadlifts really are your best friend.
Start here: Start with a very light weight, as light as you’d like. You can even start with one kettlebell or dumbbell, like in this video:
Here’s my most recent deadlift, recorded at the Sorinex Headquarters during SummerStrong 16.
Why: Squats are special to me, because they are HARD. Squats are fun because they are hard! When you cultivate an appreciation for squatting well and squatting consistently, you’ll see progress in many ways. You’ll feel strong and athletic. Your other lifts will go up. Your body composition will change. Your back will feel fantastic.
What they do for you: Squats work your whole body. There are many ways to do a squat well, so don’t listen to people telling you what a squat should look like, unless they are a real, qualified coach who is truly on your team. You can do back squats, front squats, Zercher squats, goblet squats, pause squats, tempo squats, Hatfield squats, split squats, box squats. Tell me more, I know I missed some!
Start here: squat to box, feet up, in the video below:
Why: Pullups are one of my favorite lifts because I had to earn them. Pullups are challenging! When I was at my most athletic, I could tell you down to a pound how much I weighed based on how my pull-ups felt. Now, they all feel hard, but I’m getting them back.
What they do for you: Pullups work your back, your arms, and grip. Pullups are great for your shoulders, as you get some of the benefits of hanging as well. Pullups are also just pretty cool.
Start here: lat pulldowns, band pulls (below), and dead hangs. Yep, just hang from a bar.
Why: They feel so dang good! Reverse hyperextensions make me feel like I have some secret weapon exercise. They first hit my radar when I realized all the big strong lifters trained these. I’m talking the thousand pound squatters, the famous guys, the lifters who had decades of experience.
What they do for you: reverse hypers work your back, glutes and hamstrings, though I suggest you keep your knees mostly straight and still, so the work is happening at the hips. (In other words, it’s not a hamstring curl at the knee.)
I feel fantastic after doing these, and do these after every day that I squat or deadlift. If my back ever bothers me even a bit, I can do a set of these and the small amount of work and blood flow instantly makes it feel better.
Start here: If your gym has a reverse hyper machine, use it! Start with no weight. If you don’t have one, try this modification from home:
My Fifth Favorite Exercise???
Why: I always have a rotating favorite, a flavor of the month. Currently I would say it’s the Gluteator. Check out all about, and how to do, the Gluteator here.
These are a pretty unique machine that produces a stimulus a little different than any other machine. Sometimes my favorite is a kettlebell swing, which just feels athletic! Often, my favorite is lateral raises, which make 5 pounds feel like work work. Getting a shoulder pump is always fun.
What they do for you: having a current favorite exercise which you experiment with and learn about is a fantastic way to keep lifting fresh. I highly recommend that you give yourself time to play, even if you have a strict program. If you have a coach, maybe run it by them if they have parameters. Ya know, don’t add in 20 sets of bleacher climbs or heavy deadlifts on a whim. But, do allow yourself room to play.
Start here: what sounds most fun right now? Go do that! Doesn’t matter if it’s one set, or if you don’t even count. Doesn’t matter if it’s easy, or something you’ve never done or haven’t done in 20 years. Find some curiosity and joy in your lifting again and it’ll spill over into your whole training program.
Related: Be high maintenance and enjoy life!
My 5 Favorite Exercises
Those are my 5 favorite exercises! What are yours? What are your current favorite lifts? What are your all time favorites? I’d love to hear from you! Let me know!
And, please let me know if I can help you get started! Problem solving and helping people see that they can do it is one of my favorite things.
Here are some ways we can get you started!