What are the best exercises?


What are the best exercises? This question is something that fitness professionals are asked ALL THE TIME!! The real answer is that the best exercises are purely dependant on what your goals are. I remember training a client to run a marathon. Sounds obvious, but the best exercise for him was to run!
Ok Gerrard, what are the best exercises for the vast majority of us who want to be strong, lean and fit? Well taking aside a good healthy diet, if I was only ever allowed to use 3 exercises for the rest of my life it would be the following:

1) Barbell back squat
2) Deadlift
3) Burpees

These 3 exercises have a crossover relationship with the vast majority of movements we perform in life and can be viewed as foundational movements to any strength training program for the majority of sports.

They are all “compound” lifts. This means that you are using a lot of muscles together to perform a movement and have to use several joints in your body. By comparison, doing a bicep curl is an isolation lift and recruits just a small amount of muscles. Therefore less energy is used and 1 to 2 joints are involved. The benefit is far lesser. When you perform compound lifts, the afterburn effect is much greater. Your body continues to have to recruit oxygen to enable recovery. This therefore has an impact on your “thermogenesis”, the aspect of your metabolism that is affected directly by your activity levels. Doing compound lifts, especially the 3 exercises mentioned above stimulates your “thermogensis” levels BIG TIME! They also aid strength gains, are great for fat burning, overall conditioning and injury prevention.

The Barbell Back Squat:


1)Place a barbell on your shoulders, draw your naval in, pull your elbows back, keep your chin tucked in, feet shoulder width apart with toes pointing out slightly.

2)Maintaining the lumbar (lower back) curve, push your heels into the ground, sit back by flexing your knees and hips, keep pulling your elbows back….squat!

3)At the bottom of the squat, hold momentarily and then accelerate slowly back up to your original standing position.

4)As you squat up, emphasise glute (buttock) contraction and push your hips up and then forwards.

The Deadlift:


1)Place your feet underneath a barbell, feet approx shoulder width apart, place hands on barbell outside of your shins, retract your shoulder blades, lift your head and chest up, drive heels into ground keeping your lumbar curve engaged.

2)Lift with control to the “lockout” (standing) position, squeezing your glutes and pushing your hips to the bar.

3)Retract shoulder blades

4)Return slowly to original lifting from ground position, driving hips backwards and creating a small bend through your knees.

The Burpee:


1)Squat down, placing hands on ground

2)Kick legs out

3)Push Up (chest to ground)

4)Jump in

5)Jump Up

6)REPEAT – How long?…….How long is a piece of string?! Do it till it burns!

…..So there you have it folks! If you were only ever allowed to do 3 exercises, these would be the ones to do. Whatever your training program or goal, you should include these exercises each and every week.

Crumble or CONQUER?
Gerrard Finlayson

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