It’s amusing to see so many daily articles on the Internet stating what the “BEST” exercise/diet/cardio program etc. there is for losing weight, improving cardio, building bigger biceps, toning your core, getting rid of back pain, etc., etc. Nothing is ever the best for everyone, plain and simple and here’s the first, and in my opinion, the most important reason why.
When it comes to “the best”, you have to consider a few variables. At the top of the list is safety. Not only safety of the exercise itself but also the application of that exercise for each individual. For instance, the bodyweight squat is a wonderful exercise that builds strength in the legs, hips and core as well as provides improved mobility in the ankles, knees and hips. And when performed to muscular fatigue, it will provide significant cardiovascular stimulation. But not everyone can perform this exercise properly due to mechanical reasons or they just can’t grasp the movement and therefore, it is not a safe option for them because they can incur an injury or further along an already bad situation. On the other hand, some people can execute this movement flawlessly, but the end result for them may be something that causes a problem due to a previous issue or it invokes some discomfort in a joint that previously wasn’t there as an example.
So really, the take home message is this: not every recommendation of the BEST has a universal application to it. Proper guidance and coaching, along with common sense and not blindly following a suggestion is probably a good start in to finding what’s BEST for you.
I have a buddy of mine who literally is busy 14+ hours a day, Monday through Friday. He is looking to get stronger and in better overall health and doesn’t have the time to get to a gym. Respecting that he doesn’t want to take the easy way out and use his constrained schedule as an excuse, I am advising the following for him or anyone else with limited time.
Every day he will perform 5 minutes of one specific exercise. I recommend he perform these exercises in the morning so he isn’t too tired or distracted at the end of the day, this way he is assured to have gotten in his workout. His goal is to be progressive each work out, i.e., looking to do better than last time. The approach is simple: he will do as many reps as he can in good form, rest long enough to “almost recover” and then do more reps. He will repeat this process until 5 minutes has transpired. He will total up all his reps (or time) and notate his performance. Notation: A goal can be to perform more reps/time for the first set compared to that of the previous workout OR shoot for a higher total number of reps/time for the 5 minute period. Either way, progression and accurate record keeping are important. To reiterate, 1 exercise per day for 5 minutes. He will rotate through these exercises every 4 days. These are the 4 movements, done in this order:
Body Weight Squats:
All exercises will be performed using whatever modification necessary to allow for safe execution and always, using good form. Hard Work, Smart Training and Consistency are key in having this program work effectively.
Attached is a spreadsheet to assist in keeping track: 5 Minutes
If my 38 years of experience has taught me anything it’s that “the basics” get things done – and done well. One of the oldest and most effective exercises since mankind is the deep knee bend – one of the best, overall exercises a person can do when done properly. This exercise – whether it be done with no extra weight, dumbbells, barbell, rock, whatever – can strengthen not only the thighs (both front and back) when performed properly. It also strengthens the hips and midsection as well as creates flexibility and promotes knee, hip and ankle joints integrity. Another additional aspect is its phenomenal conditioning aspect it offers but there is a caveat – it needs to be done properly. This is not just an up-and-down piston type movement, it’s a deliberate execution that works from the feet and is one of those mind-muscle connections that makes the experience much more effective.