I love sports.
I’m proud to say that I’m a diehard fan of all Philadelphia teams and will stick with them through the best of times (EAGLES SUPERBOWL LII CHAMPS BABY)…
…and the worst of times, like in 2015 where all four Philly teams had a COMBINED winning percentage of .375. For those unfamiliar with sports, that’s awful.
It’s pretty cool to see my hometown players honored when they’re selected to All-Star teams during their respective seasons… even though the actual All-Star games themselves are the usually worst thing on the planet, second only to the people who refer to Kylie Jenner as the soon to be youngest “self made” billionaire.
I mean, if DICTIONARY.COM is calling you out, something is fishy.
Anyway, lets get back on track.
Seeing all these All-Star games and lineups got me thinking…
If exercises had an All-Star lineup, what would it look like?
Well, in sports they’ll usually select All-Stars based on position, so we have to do the same with exercises.
The easiest way to do this is simply break down training into program staples: squat, hinge, push, pull, and core.
We can break it down even further, but 5 is a friendly number and just happens to be the same number of players on an NBA and NHL all star team, so let’s keep it there.
Just like the All-Star selection process in sports has its factors has to who actually gets selected (fan vote, player vote, media/press input), I’ll decide my All-Star exercises based on overall bang for your buck and not simply because it’s a terrific exercise for a certain body part.
Without further ado, here is your 2018 Exercise All-Star roster.
Squat: Paused Offset Kettlebell Front Squat
⚠️ OFFSET RACKED POSITION KB SQUATS ⚠️ _ Benefits: less axial loading and spinal compression compared to barbell squats… making this a solid choice for those suffering from back pain _ Increased demand for rotary stability aka your core works overtime to not let the weight pull and twist you out of a good squat position _ Shoulder girdle works hard to provide stability in order to maintain a good ‘racked’ position – Thoracic extensors (upper back) light up like a Christmas tree to maintain an upright torso _ The initial hike of the kettlebell into the racked position is an added bonus of including some power work into your routine, unilateral power work at that. SO AWESOME. _ Lighter loads overall will spare your joints in the long run _ And these are extremely humbling. Don’t think you’ll just do a few of these all willy nilly. These will make a man out of you. _ Give them a shot! _ #kettlebellsquats #coreworkouts #workout #fatloss #exercise #fitness #workout #weightlifting #personaltrainer #trainer #strength #strengthtraining #muscle #movement #fit #getfit #fitpro #health #movebetter #kettlebell
These get the nod for the squat spot for a whole bunch of reasons.
First off, its a variation of a goblet squat which is great because the position of the weight will force you into a great squat position. Because that anteriorly placed weight will pull you forward, you’ll instinctively fight to stay up tall. This turns you into one sexy squattin’ son of a bitch.
Secondly, it’s offset, meaning only one side is loaded. This will add an added degree of difficulty by challenging rotary stability, or put more simply, your core is gonna be fried after this.
Plus, holding a kettlebell in the racked position is a fantastic way to challenge your shoulder girdle to provide some much needed stability in order to actually hold the weight.
And if that wasn’t enough, this is a great exercise to really make you aware of any asymmetries you may have in terms of strength or stability. Trust me, take my word on this one.
The pause is kinda like a cherry on top. Pausing at the bottom forces you to maintain quality tension throughout your body, which basically reinforces good technique and makes you work harder.
Hinge: Landmine Single Leg RDL
This may just be my favorite variation of a single leg RDL out there. And here’s why.
Well for starters it’s a deadlift variation so your glutes, hammies, and entire backside will get worked big time.
Secondly, it’s unilateral meaning you work one leg at a time. This ultimately means you use half the load compared to bilateral versions, so your low back gets spared from higher loads and shear stress.
The landmine itself does a number of things, but most importantly it provides you with some stability during the movement. This makes using the landmine very user friendly, especially for beginners who haven’t quite perfected the single leg hinge pattern yet.
In addition to added stability, the landmine does a great job of teaching people to engage their lats, something many people struggle to do, by allowing them to push into the barbell throughout the movement. This is important because failure to brace the lats during something like a deadlift will increase your chances of having your low back round over, decrease your ability to lift as much, and increase your risk for sucking at strength training in general.
The single arm single leg version of the RDL is pure amazeballs because just like the offset kettlebell front squat, it also carries an anti-rotary stability component to it. And added core work is ALWAYS a benefit.
So to recap this exercises works single leg stability, rotary stability, and hammers the posterior chain in a manner that is extremely user friendly, especially for beginners.
All-Star starter fo’ sho’.
Push: Spiderman Bodysaw Pushup
Full Disclaimer: these are f*cking hard (and require you to have some floor sliders)
So please make sure you have a napkin handy before attempting these, because you’ll likely end up eating some humble pie when you’re done (or the floor if you’re a bit too overzealous with estimating your strength levels).
The Spiderman bodysaw pushup is a tremendous exercise because it’s got a lot going on in terms of benefits.
First, any and all pushup variations carry with them a degree of challenging the core throughout the movement, but this one just ups the ante by about 100x the normal amount. It’s one benefit that pushups will aways have over bench pressing.
The bodysaw pushup also has a unique benefit in that it requires some overhead movement during a normally horizontal movement pattern. This allows for some extra movement of the scapula (your shoulder blade), specifically upward rotation, which is hugely beneficial for overall and long term shoulder health.
Lack of adequate scapular upward rotation is often a big factor as to why people experience shoulder pain in the first place.
The bodysaw pushup also shifts a large portion of the load to one arm, making this a semi-single arm pushup. Plus, the spiderman bodysaw pushup adds in a degree of hip flexion as well, something that lots of people unknowingly have issues with.
Many people (mainly dudes) scoff at the idea of pushups being too easy to include in their routines, but I DARE YOU to perform a set of these with a pause at the bottom of every rep and still tell me the same.
And you can always try regular bodysaw pushups if the spiderman versions are just a wee bit too hard.
Pull: TRX Row
I’ll admit there were sexier choices for this All-Star starting spot.
Fat grip chin-ups, chest supported barbell rows… there’s a bunch of quality choices.
But you know what? TRX rows are to the exercise world what Tim Duncan was to the sports world.
They’re not flashy, not really sexy, and they never make people super excited.
But damn it, they get the job done in an extremely efficient fashion.
Just like Tim Duncan was the long time cornerstone of the San Antonio Spurs franchise and helped them win numerous championships, the TRX row remains a cornerstone in almost all of my clients training programs.
It will help you improve posture, improve movement quality, improve and/or maintain shoulder health, improve rotator cuff strength, increase grip strength, increase core strength, and increase overall upper back strength all in one.
The TRX row is not only an All-Star, it’s the first round pick drafted to help turn a franchise around.
They are the Carson Wentz of the exercise world.
By the way, any Cleveland Browns fans reading this? If so… THAAAANK YOU! Sincerely, all of Philadelphia.
Core: High Tension Deadbug
I looove this deadbug variation because it’s effective, it’s efficient, and it’s very challenging.
Using a band or cable is a great way to get your anterior core to ‘turn on’, as well as help drive some posterior tilt of the pelvis. This will put you in the best position possible to perform the deadbug properly.
Adding a full exhale at the bottom of every rep will force your abs and obliques to work extra hard, while actively pulling your knee to your chest every rep will really work end range hip flexion, something tons of folks are terrible at. Poor end range hip flexion (or the ability to fully and properly bring your knee to your chest) carries it’s own host of downsides, like low back pain, for example.
If you haven’t tried this one, or are in the mood for your abs to be ON FIRE, give this one a try 🙂
And there you have it, your 2018 Exercise All-Star Team. Will it be the same list in 2019? Or will an emerging rookie make the cut? Guess we’ll find out in time!