Standing on a BOSU while performing a single leg squat into a single arm cable row can seem different and fun, and in fact may be, but is it practical and effective?
Most trainees and new trainers desire the use of novel and different looking exercises in order to keep the “entertrainment” value at its highest. However, the exercises that have been used for hundreds of years, continue to be used for a reason and that is because they work!
The three primary lifts, the squat, the Deadlift and the bench press continue to be emphasized by most good coaches and the powerlifting community because they are amazing compound movements that utilize more muscle than most other exercises and there are more variations of these that can be alternated between to continue to create a novel response in the body. Of course, these exercises should be contraindicated under certain circumstances, but the goal will always be to get the most out of each exercise as possible. When an exercise uses a significant amount of muscle, it consequently helps to build more muscle overall, burn more calories during training. On top of this, repairing muscle requires more calories over the next 36 hours. For most of the population, including pull-ups in this category and even swapping the bench press for a shoulder press can often create a more safe and corrective protocol due to common imbalances created from sitting, cell phone use and inactivity.
Sticking to the basics may not be new and incredibly entertaining, but it can help you to reach your goals much more quickly! Due to the unlimited options that each of these exercises offer, there can still be novelty in the movement on a semi-frequent basis. One such example can be taken from a squat. The squat can be taught as a goblet squat or a front squat initially, then transitioned to a high or low-bar back squat. The feet can be moved closer or further apart in order to change the targeted muscles. Heels can be flat or they can be elevated to an incredibly high angle to focus on training the VMO (Vastis Medialis Oblique) to a greater extent. The femurs can be neutral or externally rotated. Quarter repetitions can be included at the top, bottom or both portions of the movement. Tempos can be varied to include slow descents, ascents or isometric pauses at various stages of the movement. All of these changes elicit specific responses and having a great coach or the knowledge of how these can affect the muscle you are trying to target can further expedite results, without requiring complete changes in exercises
If you feel comfortable with your mechanics, trying some of these options out yourself can make a huge impact on your body’s ability to continue to respond to your training and reduce the risk of repetitive use injuries, such as tendinitis. If you want great results, occasionally vary your exercises and practice your technique. Safely performing compound movements without compensation and using the greatest range of motion safely possible, will make bigger differences in your training than just about anything else. As the great Michael Boyle frequently states, “Keep It Simple Stupid!”