People often ask me…
“what is the best all around exercise?”
So I went looking and here is what I found.
AARP says it’s the plank.
A little time spent reviewing various expert opinions from The New York Times health and fitness portal revealed choices like the squat, the burpee and sprinting up hill. All of which are certainly on my top 10 list, because they all serve the purpose of working the entire body at once, raising your heart rate significantly, and making you functionally stronger for life and sport.
American strength training coach, Mark Rippetoe, would likely say that his choice would be the low-bar back squat. A version of the barbell squat where the bar is moved further down the athlete’s back for safety, ability to increase the load, and emphasis on working the entire posterior chain, or backside of your body, which is often neglected in training as compared to the front side.
Top Crossfit athlete, Rich Froning, says it’s the barbell thruster, which is easy to learn and combines two of my all-time favorites – the squat and the overhead press.
You could easily make an entire workout out of any one or two of these movements combined. Combine all of them and you would have a strength program that could last you a lifetime, and do far more good than most of what I see happening on a daily basis in the gym.
The real winner, though, is not the plank, the squat, the burpee, or any of the other expert moves mentioned. The real winner is the one you will actually do on a regular basis. Or the one that you actually can do, safely and effectively. If you asked me what the biggest problem in the fitness industry was today, I would say that it is our addiction for the latest or hottest fitness trend or craze. We are often in a never-ending cycle of chasing the latest greatest trends at the expense of this one very important fact. Doing something, heck anything, is the key. And I can tell you right now, that you’re never going to see me put a barbell on my back again and perform a squat. Unless it’s a few repetitions for a demonstration or video, and only if there’s no weight on the bar. My back won’t take it, and I don’t need this type of lift anymore.
My aversion to the squat is only one example of the truth that the BEST exercise or exercise program is the one you are going to engage in on a regular basis. Yes, it needs to change, adapt, cycle throughout the year, and provide you with a continually new and challenging stimulus, but at the heart of your success are movements and programs that you enjoy and will perform on a regular weekly basis.
Ask any one of my clients how much they like the burpee and whether or not they do very many, if any, on their own. The majority of them will tell you that the answer is a resounding ZERO! I don’t have to like that or even support that, but it’s the truth.
So what are you gonna do about it?