Too many people still rely on the outdated, bodybuilding-style body part workouts. You know, where you work Chest and Triceps on Mondays (universal bench press day), Back and Biceps another day, leg day, etc. And too often, the emphasis is on the “mirror muscles”, the muscles you can see and flex in the mirror that look all “pumped” after a workout.
But for us guys that are just as concerned with feeling good as looking good, that training approach will just lead to injury and an unfunctional body. Besides, most bodybuilding style workouts emphasize isolation exercises like chest flys, bicep curls, and knee extensions that use only one joint at a time.
While this might be beneficial to someone trying to do just that – isolate a particular body part for aesthetic reasons – our bodies never work one joint at a time.
We need to think in terms of compound movements, which involve two or more joints in the exercise. These are the kinds of movements we make everyday to help keep our bodies functional. And on top of that, we need to train similar movements with one and two limbs. A front squat would be a two-limbed, or bilateral movement, while a split squat would be considered a one-limbed (unilateral) movement.
So, here are the movement patterns that should be a part of an effective strength training plan:
1. Knee-Dominant Movements
These are movements where knee extension is the prime movement. Any kind of squat, or “pushing” motion with the leg is a knee-dominant exercise.
2. Hip-Dominant Movements
Any movement, where the hip extends as the primary movement. This requires a contraction by the glutes, hamstrings and low back, and can be considered a “pulling” motion. Good mornings, RDL’s are examples of hip-dominant exercises. The traditional deadlift has elements of both knee and hip-dominant movements which makes it a very effective exercise.
3. Supine Presses or Horizontal Push
Any movement where the weight is pushed away from the body in a horizontal motion. The bench press and push up are examples of a horizontal push.
4. Overhead Presses or Vertical Push
Any movement where the weight is pushed away from the body in a vertical motion. The overhead press is an example.
5. Horizontal Pulls
A movement where the weight is pulled toward the body horizontally, such as a barbell row.
6. Vertical Pulls
A movement where the weight is pulled toward the body vertically, like a chin up or shrug.
7. Torso Training
Torso training, more popularly known as core or ab training, should include both stabiliztion (like planks) and rotational (wood choppers) movements.
8. Explosive Movements
No, not those kind of explosive movements (I knew you were thinking that), but power developing exercises like Olympic lifts, or plyometrics.
You should see all of these movements in equal proportions with little, if any, emphasis on any movement pattern. And in any of the traditional strength movements (1-6 above) there should be equal (or at least almost equal) consideration given to both unilateral and bilateral movements.
So regardless of the program you choose, make sure you go through the program and check each component off. Don’t waste your precious time with exercises like bicep curls and hamstring curls. Make your workouts as time-efficient as possible.
Workouts don’t have to be 60-90 minutes. Focusing on these movements will save you time in the gym and give you better results.
Cut out all the crap, fluff and filler most other programs give you and go check out the AW Ultimate Strength Program to see how to get more results in less time.