It's amazing how complicated we make this "getting fit" thing. But don't get me wrong I appreciate the complexity and intricacies of the human body.
I love studying the body on a detailed level. I mean I got a degree in biochemistry.
However for the vast majority of people complexity is not what we need. In fact I will continue to argue that one of the biggest problems in the world of health and fitness is the vast amount of information that is available to the average person. I'm not suggesting that we limit people's access to information, but what I have found is that the more information there is for someone to try and sift through the less likely they are to ever take action on any of that information.
Not to mention it's been shown many times over that increase the number of options you have to choose from results in the reduce likelihood that a definite choice will be made.
Thus I think one of the best ways we can overcome the epidemic that is obesity and physical inactivity in western cultures is to give clear, concise, and simplified instructions on what someone should be doing in order to improve their fitness and health.
And it's not really the people who need the helps problem, but rather it's us health professionals who have dropped the ball on this. We are so much more concerned with looking smart and impressing our peers than we are with providing actionable knowledge to those who we are seeking to help.
Again don't get me wrong there is a time and place when "getting fit" for a certain individual requires a complex training program and advanced dietary strategies, but these are the minority of cases. They are the exception to the rule.
That all being said I'd like to help fix this problem and provide you with actionable knowledge that you can start putting into practice right away in order to improve your fitness and health.
I'm going to do this from a training perspective because I think that is one of the areas that people don't necessarily overthink, but rather just don't know what the hell they should be doing or could be doing to get a good workout in. That is why I want to show you five exercises that I think everyone should learn and that everyone can use to get into really great shape.
And my hope is that by sharing these exercises with you it will help you understand that workouts can happen anywhere with any amount of equipment. That you don't have to put exercise or fitness inside the box that is the "gym." But rather help you see that exercise and physical activity can always occur anywhere at any given time. It isn't tied down to a location or piece of equipment.
I picked these five exercises because they require really no equipment, they can be progressed and regressed based on someone's current fitness level, and the offer plenty of options to applying the principle of progressive overload which will eventually result in additional muscle mass and strength. Not to mention losing weight and fat is really great positive reinforcement for being able to finally do them
1. RKC Plank
This is a great exercise for developing stability throughout your mid-section. The key to making it work is to create full body tension from your head to your toes.
To make this exercise harder you simply extend your elbows further forward creating a longer level.
To make this exercise easier place your elbows directly under your shoulders and chunk up your total amount of time into shorter holds.
I'd recommend trying to work up to 45s to 60s of continuous time in this position.
This is the king of upper body pulling exercises in my opinion and I just don't think it gets anymore "functional" than being able to pull yourself up. It could quite literally be life saving someday.
To make this exercise harder try slowing down your tempo or adding weight.
To make the exercise easier try using band assistance or having a partner spot you.
I'd say shoot for at some point being able to perform 8 solid bodyweight chin-ups.
3. Skater Squat
Not only is this exercise a great measure of lower body strength, but it also helps you develop balance and coordination which as we age is something we could all stand to work on from time to time.
To make this exercise harder try adding weight, slowing down the tempo of your reps, or trying to do more reps.
To make this exercise easier try shortening the range of motion or holding on to a fixed object like a TRX or squat rack to provide you with assistance.
I'd say shoot for at some point being able to perform 10 solid skater squats on each leg.
If the pull-up is the king of upper body pulling exercises than the push-up is the king of upper body pushing exercises. Not only will it help you develop a strong and muscular upper body, but it will keep your shoulders healthy and teach you how to create a stiff mid-section while being dynamic with your extremities.
To make the exercise harder add weight to it, elevate your feet, slow the tempo of your reps down, or perform additional reps.
To make the exercise easier try elevating your hands.
I'd say shoot for at some point being able to perform 20 bodyweight push-ups.
5. Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
While the skater squat does develop great lower body strength it places most of the focus on the muscles on the front side of your leg. The single leg romanian deadlift will help you develop strength and the muscles in the back side of your leg.
To make this exercise harder try improving the quality of your reps, adding weight, or increasing the number of reps you performed.
To make the exercise easier try standing next to a wall for balance and support.
I'd say shoot for at some point being able to perform 12 solid bodyweight single leg romanian deadlifts.
The best part about learning these exercises is you will always be able to create a great workout no matter where you are, how much time you have, or what equipment you have access to.
And chances are if you can do all these exercises with great technique for the reps I recommended working towards you are going to be in rather great shape especially from a muscular strength and endurance standpoint.
Happy moving and heavy lifting!
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training