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Big Five: Exercises that have survived the test of time.

Posted on September 23 2015

Ok...we may not all agree which Five this should be but let's have a look at the following five moves:

The Deadlift
We would say that the deadlift comes a very close to the squat in terms of its functionality -useful in every day life. After all, it’s fairly common that we have to bend down and pick up something heavy. If you don’t know how to brace, use all the relevant muscles - and those who don’t have experience of training the deadlift tend to over use the front of the body and neglect the posterior chain muscles like glutes and hamstrings - you’ll probably suffer next time you need to help your buddy move house, or even just load the groceries into your car. Like the squat, it’s a compound exercise, so in terms of muscle recruitment and growth you get ‘more bang for your buck’.  BUT you need to learn how to deadlift properly or it can quickly becomes the fastest way to injure yourself if it’s done wrong or to excess.

The Pull Up
Learning to master the basic pull up should be an essential part of any beginner’s programme, as it’ll help you to build strength in your back (middle and upper), arms and shoulders. It’s easily varied to make it less or more difficult too, so that almost every level of trainer can get something out of the pull up. Under-hand grip, over-hand grip, close grip, wide grip and much more,  It’s also a good way of training your grip which has plenty of carry over to other exercises. Building back strength is a very important means of offsetting the risk of injury in that area.
Pull ups, when well-taught, help you to identify the much ignored but all-important latissimus dorsi muscle at the sides of your back - once you get these firing your pull up numbers will soar..

The Burpee
This was an obvious choice as we all love Burpees! This compound exercise involves a press up, squat and jump all in one. That’s a high level of return for a single exercise! As a general conditioning exercise it taxes your muscles and at the same time taxes your heart and lungs, you can’t really beat burpees! Also there are lots of ways of varying them (check out one of our other BLOGs).

The Squat 
If you can’t squat then your chances of getting out of a chair when old age arrives are very limited. It’s an all-round winner as a lower body resistance training exercise, since it’s a compound exercise, you works more than one muscle group at a time. In this case that’s the glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, and lower back and abdominals. There are a vast array of different ways to squat, so check out our earlier Blog, and a whole load of benefits including strengthening your tendons and ligaments as well as giving you a pretty good idea of where you are immobile and need to work on flexibility.

The Push Up
Like the Burpee everyone has done this exercise. If you’re already great at push ups and can knock them out with perfect form, even with your hands close to your armpits, then there’s plenty of trickier variations to be working on. But the reason the push up is so important is that it’s not just a ways of training your chest, shoulders and back of your arms to be much stronger, but also involves developing midline or core stability. The push up is also a great way of highlighting poor mobility in the shoulders and chest, as well as training you to use your abdominal muscles for exercises that don’t at first appear to need them… It’s also very versatile, like all these Big Five movements - you can use a push up, when doing multiple reps, as a conditioning move, or for pure strength work, when under load or in a handstand.

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