5 Exercises That Live Up to the Hype
I’m certain of one thing—I’ll never be certain about anything again. Remember that we once believed the world was flat and that Nautilus machines were the future of strength training. Well I used to think the following five movements were overrated. Now I know better.
I used to think deadlifts were just for powerlifters, but I’ve come to appreciate them again and believe if performed correctly, they may have greater value than squats. Deadlifts require more effort from the musculature on the backside of your body, so they'll help you develop strength and power where you need it most. The common mistake and cause of many injuries: rounding your back. Keep your back flat and your chest up. When your back is no longer flat, the set is over.
2. Single-Leg Squat
I used to think everyone needed to squat. Now I know everyone needs to bend their knees and I actually think many of the single-leg variations are better for beginners. Try working on single-leg strength and squat mobility simultaneously with movements like the single-leg squat (for strength) and the sumo squat-to-hamstring stretch (for mobility).
3. One-Arm Row
For a while, I thought chin-ups were more important than rows, but now I think most people are way too upper trap dominant—that is, their upper trapezius muscles overpower their rhomboids. To turn on these all-important back muscles, try the one-arm dumbbell row.
4. Ab Wheel Rollout
I always thought the ab wheel was a really stupid piece of exercise equipment that could cause injury. Now I think it's the key to core training. You can get a similar effect with a loaded barbell or Valslides, like this: Start by kneeling on the floor, with your hands on the Ab Wheel handles, barbell, or Valslides, using an overhand grip. Start with the bar close to your thighs. Keeping your abs braced and your back flat, push the bar forward. Roll forward as far as you can, then contract your abs and pull with your arms to return to the starting position.
I used to think lunges were a waste of time, but I’ve come to use them as an advanced exercise. Beginners should always start with split squats and progress to the dynamic version, the lunge. The key is to establish the mobility first before you make the movement more dynamic.
Michael Boyle is one of the world’s leading experts in the area of performance enhancement and the owner of StrengthCoach.com. Michael is also the author of Functional Training for Sports.