If you’re like most people you go to the gym so that something outside of the gym can improve. That could be being able to fit into the clothes in the back of your closet, getting healthier so your doctor can take you off some medications, or being able to keep up with your friends and family when being physically active. Most people in the gym do not have goals to become a bodybuilder, yet it seems like almost every person in the gym trains like a bodybuilder. Doesn’t make sense, does it? Don’t worry I was once guilty of this too because that is all I knew. Clearly it didn’t work out for me too well either because I didn’t even get big like a bodybuilder.
You’re probably wondering, “Well if I shouldn’t train like a bodybuilder, what the hell am I supposed to do?” If you ask me you should train in a way that is going to carry over into your real life, and in a way that helps you get the most bang for your buck. This means training “Movements” instead of “Muscles”.
Movements vs. Muscles.
Movement is defined as the act or process of moving; especially : change of place or position or posture (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/movement), while muscle is defined as a body tissue consisting of long cells that contract when stimulated and produce motion
(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/muscle). Now muscles create movement of the human body, but we don’t think in terms of muscles when we want to move, we just think about the movement we want to perform and our body does it. So why do we tend to think about muscle when we are working out in the gym? This is not to say no one should think in terms of “muscles” when working out, if you are bodybuilding, than your goal is to grow each and every little muscle so that it pops out on stage and you can win the show then yes you should probably think about working each muscle individually.
The problem with this way of training for everyone who has goals beyond bodybuilding is that our muscles work together to create movement, they don’t work separately, so when we train in the gym we would want all of our muscles to work together the way they would outside of the gym. This will help create carry over from your training into the real world. Training movements will also provide you with the most value of your time spent in the gym. Most people can’t spend 5 or 6 days in the gym for over an hour to target each muscle individually. Which is perfectly fine because you don’t have to unless you are a bodybuilder.
The five movements that everyone should train when they are in the gym are Squat, Hinge, Push, Pull, and Carry. We could add core in here too, but to keep this blog simple I wrote a separate blog on core training you can check out here (http://www.coreprinciples-sc.com/a-better-way-to-train-your-core/) Within each of these movements there are a million and one different variations. Some are easy, others are hard, but I will provide a few for each and you can find one that works best for you within each category.
The squat may be one of the most important and most widely recognized movements. Every time you get up and down out of a chair you are squatting. The squat is a lower body knee dominant exercise, which means there is more bend in your knees than your hips. The squat will help getting up and down from chairs easier, make it easier to climb stairs or go hiking, and when performed well are a great exercise to keep your knees happy and healthy.
Double Racked Squat
Hinge (Hip Hinge)
The hip hinge is possibly one of the harder movements to perform, because most people do not properly perform hip hinge in their day-to-day lives. The hip hinge like the squat is a lower body exercise, but the hip hinge is considered a “hip dominant” exercise (who would’ve guessed?!) During the hip hinge the bend in your hips is greater than the bend in your knees. The hip hinge is important to learn how to properly and safely pick stuff up off the ground, set up properly for your golf swing, and keep your back healthy and happy.
Now that we covered lower body we will move to upper body and start with pushes. You know the saying “it’s not how it sounds”, well in this case it is exactly how it sounds just push something. With any type of pushing movement the weight or form of resistances starts close to your body and you have to actively push it away against gravity.
DB Bench Press
½ Kneeling Landmine Press
KB Overhead Press
Now any type of pulling exercise is just the exact opposite of any of the pushing exercises. Just like we said before it is exactly how it sounds, you are pulling something. In this case the weight or form of resistance will start further away from your body and you have to actively pull that closer to your body.
½ Kneeling Cable Row
3 Point row
½ Kneeling Band High Row
So next time you head to the gym pick one of each of these exercises and make it a workout. You can either make it one big circuit alternating between exercises or break it up into 2 or 3 circuits of 2-3 exercises. Just try to alternate between lower body and upper body to allow time to rest.