How do I get stronger? – 5 exercises everyone should be doing

How do I get stronger? – 5 exercises everyone should be doing

5 essential functional exercises to get you fit and strong

Today conventional wisdom says that to be strong, one must lift heavy barbells and toss around big weights. The current interest in fitness has beginners in gyms getting under heavy barbells without the proper training – a recipe for disaster. Really, you should master some basics before attempting more technical lifts.

Our caveman ancestors were strong across a wide spectrum of modalities: pushing, pressing, pulling, throwing, squatting, lunging, jumping, twisting, hauling and a myriad of other physical movements. Since very few of us grow up in an intensely physically demanding world, it is common to embark on fitness endeavors with substantial strength and fitness deficits. Regardless of your current fitness level, you are certainly suited to lifting heavy things, but heavy is a relative term and all that should matter is what is heavy to you.

Bodyweight resistance exercise (or calisthenics) is the perfect place to start. These exercises make strength training simple, safe, cheap, time efficient and always accessible. They are infinitely scalable to be as easy or as difficult as you choose and as an added bonus, will improve core strength. The absence of any outside resistance makes these exercises extremely safe for the joints and soft tissues often injured in the gym, even under expert supervision.

Bodyweight exercises promote functional fitness. This refers to the natural interplay between corresponding joints; tendons; and muscles as they are meant to be used in everyday movements. You could measure strength by how much you can bench press, or how many plates you can stack on the leg extension machine. Alternatively, strength might be measured by how well you climb a tree, how powerfully you could stroke to shore against a rip tide, or if you could carry your wife or child from a burning house.

Below are five functional exercises. The key to functional exercise is integration – teaching all the muscles to work together rather than isolating them to work independently.

1. Push-up

2. Pull-up/Chin-up

3. Overhead press

4. Squat

5. Plank

The beauty of these exercises is that you can manipulate your own bodyweight to increase the load safely and effectiveness for all levels of fitness. There are many ways to modify these exercises to make them really easy or really hard. For example, a push-up against a wall would be the simplest application of a push up, whereas a muscle up, superman push up or planche push up are incredibly difficult! Similarly, try a basic prisoner squat versus a one-legged pistol squat. The average Joe will not need barbells or squat racks to progress and get fit.

For ideas on how to make the above exercises more or less challenging, download a copy of Mark Sisson’s eBook, “Primal Blueprint Fitness”. You can download a free copy here.

You might be currently struggling with a recurring injury, feel your current fitness program is inadequate or unsafe, or just don’t know where to start. Visit your health professional for advice on safe and effective fitness alternatives that will benefit your individual needs.

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this discussion are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.

How Fit Should I Be?

How Fit Should I Be?

Suggested base levels of physical fitness for the average human being

Very few of us grew up in an intensely physically demanding world like that of our ancestors. Our ancestors had to work for their survival using their hands, feet, arms, and all requisite muscles and energy systems to obtain food, shelter, and security. In those days, physical fitness was an absolute necessity for survival. Walking, foraging, crawling, twisting, climbing, squatting, throwing and carrying were the basic movements that helped shape human evolution for millions of years. Being unable to sprint or climb meant going hungry or getting eaten yourself and the end of the line for your genes.

A typical work day for the hunting man was perhaps stalking a wild animal for an hour or two, giving chase through the brush, eventually thrusting with a spear, butchering it, and finally hauling it back home slung over his back. In fitness terms, the hunt and kill expedition translates to: some light jogging, a bit of trail running with some short sprinting, perhaps a few lunge-thrusts, some sledge-hammers, a dead-lift and a fireman’s carry. What a fantastic whole body workout!

The world is a little different today, and we need not be so handy with a spear or quick on our feet, to catch our dinner. So just how fit should you be? In his book, “Endurance”, Earle Liederman (ex-strongman athlete) writes:

“Every man should be able to save his own life. He should be able to swim far enough, run fast and long enough to save his life in case of emergency and necessity. He also should be able to chin himself a reasonable number of times, as well as to dip a number of times, and he should be able to jump a reasonable height and distance.”

In practical terms, this could be:

  • 1 kilometer swim
  • 100m sprint at full speed
  • ability to jump over waist-high objects
  • 10 chin-ups
  • 10 dips

Any reasonably fit person should be able to perform the above tasks. Chin-ups and dips are the more challenging exercises but with a kick of adrenalin (as in a life-threatening event), these will be more manageable. At the very least, you should be fit and flexible enough to perform regular daily activities: carrying groceries up two flights of stairs, run to catch the bus, or lug bags through the airport without hurting your shoulders.

“Move slowly often”

Roughly five hours per week of low-level aerobic activity will be of great benefit to your general health. This might be in the form of walking, gardening, cycling, swimming or hiking, etcetera. These basic activities will allow you to maintain normal weight and metabolic balance. It also makes more strenuous workouts possible by toning all the muscles, including your [core](http://cartwrightphysicaltherapy.com.au/blog/core-strength joints and connective tissue needed for optimal strength training and high intensity anaerobic activity).

Low level aerobic exercise engages your energy systems and incrementally improves their functioning and efficiency. And while it does all that, it also physiologically and hormonally counters the effects of stress.

Moving slowly often, is a great phrase to keep in the back of your mind each day. Thereafter, try to fit in some sort of strenuous activity at least once a week, lift some weights, help a friend move house, run uphill, or play some touch footy. It doesn’t have to be a chore, make it fun for yourself.

This information has been adapted from Mark Sisson’s eBook, “Primal Blueprint Fitness”. You can download a free copy here.

You may also be interested in this article which goes through [exercises that make you stronger]((http://cartwrightphysicaltherapy.com.au/blog/how-do-i-get-stronger-5-exercises-everyone-should-be-doing).

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this discussion are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.