Learn the 3 moves that should be included in every exercise program

 In Fitness

Do you ever wonder if you’re getting the most out of your time in the gym? If you’re like most people, your training time is incredibly valuable. Between your work, family, and social life, there is only so much time left to set aside for exercise. Of course you want to want to make the most of it when you’re at the gym. After all, who wants to put countless hours of hard work into something that isn’t going to pay off? Unfortunately, if your exercise program is lacking certain movements, you may not be getting much more than a good sweat out of it. Before you go spend any more time training, look over your exercise program and make sure that these 3 moves are included. You’ll be thankful that you did.

1. Squats

Squats are the cornerstone of every great exercise program. There are a lot of variations of the squat, and almost all of them are stellar when it comes to creating lasting change.

+ Why you can’t afford to skip them:

There is no more functional movement than the squat. As both the transition between the seated and standing position, and a rest position in itself, the squat is one of the most fundamental movements a human can perform. Squats are a compound exercise, which means they incorporate two joint actions at one time (hip extension, and knee extension). They work the glutes, the hamstrings, and the quadriceps better, and more naturally than any single joint exercise can train them in isolation. Since your legs are your primary means of getting around, and it only makes sense to keep them strong. When you squat, you also recruit a great deal of muscles in the feet, ankles, knees, hips, and core for stabilization. A lot of muscles have to fire in order to keep your body in position; which means you end up with what is arguably close to a total body workout. for that, we love the squat.

Try these variations in your exercise program to mix it up and keep it fresh:

Traditional Squat
Split Squat
(a.k.a: the lunge)
Side Lunge
Single Leg Squat
(pistol, and skater squat)

2. Upper Body Presses

After the squat, upper body press (or push) exercises are probably some of the more useful motor patterns you can train. Presses translate well to real human movement, making them very functional for real world situations.

+ Why you can’t afford to skip pressing exercises:

Pressing (or pushing) is another example of a compound exercise; one that incorporates movement at both the shoulder and elbow joint. Press exercises use some of the biggest muscles of the upper body, including the pecs, anterior deltoids, and triceps. Like the squat, pressing exercises recruit a great deal of stabilizers in order to keep the body in the proper position. Push exercises train the muscles that allow you to hold your body off the ground with your arms (like when crawling or laying prone). These are also the muscles which allow you to push things away from you, and lift them over head.

Here are some examples of pressing exercises that you should look for in your exercise program:

Push Up
Bench Press
The Dip
Handstand Press
Over-Head Press
(military press)

3. Upper Body Pulls

Upper body pull exercises are in many cases the most under-trained movements in any exercise program. Although they are key in keeping your upper body balanced, many people just don’t put as much emphasis on them as they do on other less functional exercises.

+ Why you can’t afford to skip pull exercises:

If your exercise program lacks pulling exercises, your back is definitely not getting the attention it requires. Although it’s very common to see people in the gym doing push exercises, it’s unlikely that they are balancing their training with pulls. The primary muscles worked in pull exercises are the lats, biceps, and posterior deltoids.

As far as real world translation, pulling exercises are some of the most functional movements there are. Pulling trains the muscles that help you climb, pick things up, and do almost every type of manual work imaginable. Think about movements like shoveling, raking, hoeing, or swinging an axe. Although these aren’t things the modern person does on a daily basis, they are incredibly important skills. Without a strong back, those kind of movements can break you.

Here are some great examples of pull exercises that you definitely should not skip out on.

Pull up
Chin Up
Cable Seated Row
Inverted Row
Bent Over Row
Upright Row

I like to think of squat / push / pull movements like a training tripod. If any one of a tripod’s legs is missing or weak, the whole thing can topple right over. It takes all 3 of them to create a balanced resistance training program.

Take some time to look over your current training program. Does it include all 3 movements? If it doesn’t, it may be time to re-evaluate what you’re doing with your time in the gym. I know you work hard. Don’t let poor programming hold you back from getting the results you deserve.