Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The 5 Best Exercises for Balanced Strength

I want to begin this post by stating that these are my 5 favorite exercises, and they have helped me to create a strong, lean and balanced body.  I know some of you will disagree with my choices, and that's all well and good, but also irrelevant.  I am an experience-based individual, and have experienced nothing but success in reference to my goals of functional strength from these 5 exercises.

1.)  The Deadlift:  If you have been following my blog, Facebook page, or my YouTube channel then you are already aware of my obsession with the Deadlift.  The Deadlift is one of the fundamental lifts for building tremendous strength, not only in the posterior chain, but also grip and core strength.  

2.)  The Squat:  There is something extremely gratifying about loading up a barbell, resting it over your traps, and descending your body towards the Earth with the hopes of being able to drive through your heels and bring the weight back up against the force of gravity.  The Squat is one of the greatest exercises for building strength, stability, size and for blasting through old plateaus, yet it is one of the most over-looked exercises.  Maybe because they're terrifying when attempting new PR's, they're painful once DOMS sets in, and they're not "sexy".  But they're amazingly effective.  

3.)  The Pull Up:  The Pull Up is one of the most underutilized exercises EVER!  Almost every single client I have ever trained has given me the same reason as to why they don't/can't do pull ups, "because they're hard."  Yes, at first this is true, because when you spend a lifetime avoiding something it will only compound the difficulty.  But with practice, the pull up will develop, and your back, arms and core will thank you.  Stop making excuses, and start incorporating pull ups. 

4.)  The Push Up:  The Push Up is a misunderstood exercise.  Almost everyone implements the push up in one way or another when exercising, however the push up comes in many shapes and not all are created equal.  People tend to flare their elbows out and sag their hips, leading to screwed up shoulders and lumbar discs.  The proper push up should resemble a plank through the entire range of motion, and the elbows should track the ribs (stay tucked in rather than flaring out).  Try doing them like this and I promise you will notice the difference.  

5.)  The Dumbbell/Kettlebell Clean & Press:  Of all the overhead pressing exercises, my favorite is the Dumbbell Clean & Press.  I prefer using the dumbbell or kettlebell over the barbell for overhead movements because it requires more stability, and less reliance on a dominant muscle or muscle group.  With barbells it is easy to rely on your stronger side, which allows for underdevelopment in our weak stabilizer muscles.  This is simply not possible with single-arm overhead pressing.  I also like utilizing the clean for the development of explosive power, which will ultimately assist the Deadlift and Squat, and vice versa.  

Honestly, you could create a pretty badass program utilizing only these 5 exercises, while only tweaking the reps, sets, rests and order.  Start incorporating some of these into your current program, or ditch what you're doing now and give them all a try if you want to speed up your process of becoming awesome.

+Wesley Claytor 

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