The Big Four
The following four movements need to be in every program. If you're doing full-body workouts instead of body part splits or movement-based training programs, then they should be in every workout.
- Upper-Body Push. Movements in which the upper body is pushing or pressing an object away from the body or the body away from an object. Examples: Push-up, bench press, overhead press, landmine press.
- Upper-Body Pull. Movements in which the upper body pulls or rows an object toward the body or the body toward an object. Examples: Chin-up, all kinds of rows, rope climb.
- Quad-Dominant Leg. Movements involving significant knee flexion that primarily work the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Examples: Squat, lunge, split squat, step-up, vertical jump.
- Hip-Dominant Leg. Hip-hinging movements that primarily work the posterior chain – the low back, glutes, and hamstrings. Examples: Deadlift and all variations, glute-ham raise, hip thrust, sprint, broad jump.
The Not-Quite-As-Big Movements
Some of these should be in every workout, and ought to be in every week.
- Core. Exercises that target the abs and obliques. Examples: Crunch, plank, hanging knee-up.
- Grip. Something that taxes the hands and forearms in a significant way. Examples: Farmer walk, wrist curl, gripper, hanging hold, thick-grip exercises.
- Rotator Cuff. Thanks to desking, texting, and Tindering, the average person has terrible posture. Rotator cuff work should be included in every program to strengthen the rotator cuff and upper back. Examples: Face-pull, prone Y-T-L raise, pull-apart.
- Lateral Hip. Weak lateral hips can be a precursor to injury by altering movement mechanics. Examples: Lateral lunge, mini-band walk, monster walk, lateral hip extension.