Sit Back, But Not On A Machine

After review of the mini-survey that I put in one of last week’s post, I found out that many of my readers are male.  (At least the ones that answered the survey are guys; don’t be misrepresented ladies!)  This was suprising to me, because I definitely receive more questions from girls, who want to verify that Weight Watchers and Hot Yoga are the best ways to get that beach bod.  To show my gratitude to my (mostly) male readers, here is a picture of a young lady who definitely knows better than Weight Watchers and Yoga:

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to what you want more of: Training Tips!  The first one comes to you from the most recent episode of the Stop Chasing Pain podcast, where Dr. Perry interviewed Dan John about his new book, “Mass Made Simple.”  Dan John likes to recommend basic, boring exercises…that work!  He noted that implementing just Goblet Squats and the Farmers Walk can provide rapid results.  Check out those two links to Dan’s articles, and figure out how to incorporate those exercises into your workouts.  If you’re an athlete, you’ll perform better, and if you have aesthetic goals, you’ll look like an athlete.  Winning.

Deadlifting comes up in at least every other post, if not more frequently; you should know by now that it’s extremely important.  However, most people have difficulty hinging at the hips and sitting back, and instead squat down to the bar.  If you’re not pulling with your hamstrings and glutes, you’re missing out on the posterior chain benefits of the exercise!  If you need help learning how to pull through your heels, watch the following video that Bret Contreras recently posted on his YouTube account.  He explains a drill that he uses to really teach the posterior weight shift that engages the glutes and hamstrings.  I like the butt-to-wall drill that he demonstrates at the beginning, but I have the feeling this one will work even better.  Try the drill to help learn the movement, and then practice the technique with a bar in your hands.  Once you learn proper form, you’ll see much better results.

Next, I want to point out something that I take for granted as common knowledge.  Maybe I don’t point it out enough, but compound movements and freeweights will almost always be beneficial than isolation exercises and machines.  I see far too many people go through a machine circuit for 30 minutes, add some crunches and cardio, and call it a day.  While that’s certainly better than sitting at home and lounging around on the couch, there are still some things that you’re missing out on.  I was talking with a friend the other day about training, and we were figuring out what to include in a program that I’m writing for him.  One of the things that came up was that he wanted “to learn new exercises, maybe squats and deadlifts, but not sure.”  Excuse me? I was honest with him, there’s no way I’d write a program without those exercises.  The benefits of doing those exercises correctly far outweigh the time requirement of learning how to do them, and the possible risks of doing it wrong.  If you’re worried about getting hurt, then learn how to perform the exercise correctly. Once you can replicate the same movement, you can get stronger.  When you get stronger, you can become more powerful, faster, and develop increased work capacity.  You want to get results?  Start with your body weight and stick with barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells.

Update: I was talking with father of one of my friends last night at the gym, and he asked for  some ‘basic, easy exercises’.  After we got past the fact that the basics aren’t necessarily easy, we moved on to business.  I was thinking about the Dan John interview, and so I suggested that he try some Goblet Squats and Farmers walks.  After a few minutes alternating between the two, he looked at me and said, “This is great!”  We added a TRX row to the mix, and after a few passes through the triset, he really understood it, which was great.  It may be hard to explain the importance of movement to people, but when they understand it, good things will happen!

One Reply to “Sit Back, But Not On A Machine”

  1. Good stuff Harold. I always hammer the importance of deadlifting and squatting to people who ask me about what they should be doing in the gym. No better bang for the buck out there. I’ve also recently taken to putting farmers walks in at the end of my lower body days. We’ll do 50 yard carries and then immediately sprint the distance – butt kicker.

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