Sunday, March 23, 2008

Choosing the Right Exercises

"Do I have the strength of a stone? Is my body made of bronze?"
- Job 6:12

To get the most out of your training, focus on compound, multi-joint exercises. Compound, multi-joint exercises use movements across two or more joints. These multi-joint exercises not only better imitate our natural movements but also work more muscles in the process.

All of the muscles and joints in our body are linked, so movement in one area will in some way affect the rest of our body. This is called the Kinetic Chain. As with any chain, it is only as strong as its weakest link, so by isolating one muscle you are making one link stronger than the rest of the chain. This will cause an imbalance and, therefore, dysfunction (which could present itself as pain).

In order to create optimal function, you need to ensure that all the links are as strong as each other. This will mean your body is in balance and functioning at its best. These compound, multi-joint movements will not only carry over more readily into everyday movements, but will also save you valuable gym time by working many muscles at the same time.

The use of single-joint, single muscle exercises is time consuming and usually calls for gym routines to be split into training a particular muscle group one day, and another the next and so on. By focusing on compound, multi-joint exercises, you can train more of your muscles in each training session with more frequency. These compound exercises are also proven to produce more strength gains than isolation exercises and burn more energy leading to better fat loss and increased muscle mass.

At Christian Athlete Fitness Training, we utilize training programs that focus on a variety of compound, multi-joint exercises such as:

Squats and their variations (front squats, back squats, overhead squats, etc.)
Deadlifts and their variations (Romanian deadlifts, goodmornings, etc.)
Bench presses and their variations (barbell and dumbbell flat or incline presses)
Chin-ups and Pull-ups and their variations (using a variety of grips and additional weight)
Rowing exercises and their variations (barbell rows, seated rows, dumbbell rows, body rows, etc.)
Overhead pressing exercises and their variations (barbell presses, dumbbell presses, etc.)
Explosive exercises and their variations (cleans, snatches, jerks, jump squats, lunge jumps, etc.)

We also utilize a variety of methods to accomplish our goals. We are not restricted to using only barbells and dumbbells. We also use odd objects in our training such as sandbags, kettlebells, sleds, car pushing, bodyweight exercises, bands, medicine balls, ropes and more!

Although the same basic movement patterns and exercises are used throughout all of our training sessions, we change implements in order to add variety and to make the workouts harder depending on our purpose.

Be sure to use compound, multi-joint exercises in your training, and you will get more bang for the buck.

According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of your results come from 20% of what you do. If you focus on using compound, multi-joint exercises for the majority of your training, you will achieve 80% of your muscle mass, fat loss, strength and other goals. The other 20% will come from the "special" exercises or other factors needed to get you to the 100%.

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