I often get asked what my favorite exercises are, and while there are too many great exercises out there to choose from, if I had to narrow down my favorites, these would make the top 3 list!
Thanks to my friend and Humane League Atlanta Office Director, Chris Guinn, for the topic idea BTW!
In my opinion this is hands down the best exercise you can do. It requires a lot of coordinated muscular effort to perform properly, is fantastic for strengthing the entire backside of the body and torso (i.e. core), and requires no special equipment – just a bar and a bunch of iron plates. In addition the deadlift is a very safe lift to perform as missing a deadlift has far fewer potential dangers than missing a squat or bench press. Plus there is just something raw and awesome about ripping a heavy barbell off the ground!
The pull-up is king of the upper body exercises as far as I’m concerned. I see way more people opting for the easier to perform lat pulldown. Pulldowns will not give you the same mid- and upper-back development as the pull-up. If you want to jack up your pull-up numbers here’s a simple plan. Test your max number of reps. Now do a set of half your max in-between sets of all your other exercises in your workout. If you can only do 4 pull-ups in a row, do a set of 2 between sets of all your other exercises. If you have 20 sets of exercises in your training session, you will end up knocking out 40 pull-ups throughout your workout. Do this for a few weeks then retest your max, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
3. Kettlebell Clean and Press:
The kettlebell clean and press can be performed with 1 or 2 kettlebells and is one of the biggest “bang for your buck” kettlebell exercises you can do, as it works almost every muscle in the entire body. Kettlebells are a great addition to any strength and conditioning or fitness program and can be used almost anywhere. Sometimes I drag a kettlebell or two to the park and do a lighter weight conditioning workout outside if I want to get out of the gym for a bit. Kettlebells are great to keep at your house too in case you can’t get to the gym and need an efficient and effective full-body workout.
While these are the exercises that made my top 3 list, I certainly wouldn’t neglect exercises like full squats, various presses and pulls, and direct abdominal work; but putting a lot of hard work into my top 3 favorites will provide huge improvements in functional strength.
Stay Strong AND Healthy!