Tag Archives: best exercises

Fitness Plan Bugaboos: Idiosyncrasy, Variables, and The Big Five

Assembling a fitness program for yourself is like figuring out your weight loss and management plan.  Lots of variables and idiosyncrasies to consider.  You have to determine what works for you, sometimes through trial and error.  Your plan may not work for your neighbor.

You could always go to a personal trainer who’ll devise a plan for you and supervise implementation.  That’s not a bad idea at all, and probably the best choice for someone not familiar with exercise yet serious about long-term health and weight management.

Yesterday I wrote about my self-imposed quandary: In which direction do I take my fitness program now.

I remember reading somewhere on the ‘net over the last year about “the big five” exercises for strength training (aka resistance training).    Turns out there are lots of Big Five lists.  Here’s one:

  • squats
  • deadlifts
  • bench press
  • overhead press
  • chin-ups
And another, similar list (a blog commenter said these were the five free-weight exercises at the top of Dr. Doug McGuff’s list):
  • squats
  • deadlifts
  • bench press
  • standing overhead press (same as military press?)
  • bent-over barbell row
  • compound row or bent-over row
  • chest press or bench press (esp. with 15 degree incline)
  • pull-down or chin-up
  • overhead or military press
  • leg press or squat
If you’re not familiar with these, go to YouTube and browse.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not interested, at my age, in growing large muscles. My goal is to be injury resistant and as strong as I can be without spending too much time at it, regardless of muscle size.  Size doesn’t necessarily translate directly into strength.  My wife, on the other hand, appreciates large arms—think  Thor in The Avengers movie.

I’m tempted to put together a program composed of man-makers, Turkish get-ups, High Knee Walk to Spiderman With Hip Lift and Overhead Reach (HKWTSWHLOR?), and treadmill HIIT.  I’m saving that for another day, however.

I’ll share my new program tomorrow.

Steve Parker, M.D. 

Whither My Fitness?

I spent six hours yesterday considering a new fitness program for myself.  I’ve been happy with my Hillfit experience but want to try something new.

I surfed the ‘net, read some chapters in Jonathan Bailor’s The Smarter Science of Slim, and thought more about the Hillfit program.  I spent a lot of time at the Whole9 website reviewing their recent three-part series on “The Five Best Exercises for Overall Fitness, Health, and Longevity,” or some such.

Bailor’s exercise program focuses on eccentric exercise, a place I’m not ready to explore.  “Eccentric” probably doesn’t mean what you think.  Take pull-ups or chin-ups, for example.  You pull yourself up, which is concentric; letting yourself down is eccentric.  I’ll get to Bailor’s program some other day.

I was planning to put something together based on the Whole9 series, like Clifton Harski did.

My ideas started to crystallize after I remembered an old architectural aphorism: Form follows function.

So I asked myself, “Self, what are you’re goals?”:

  • improve my current fitness level
  • effective
  • efficient (e.g., not time-consuming, so under two hours a week)
  • scalable
  • teachable
  • relatively safe
  • simple
  • no machines or commercial gym needed (i.e., home-based)

A couple items from Whole9 caught my fancy: man-makers, Turkish get-ups, the primacy of squats, the High Knee Walk to Spiderman with Hip Lift and Overhead Reach.  Except for squats, these ideas were new to me.  The Spiderman thing brought some of Mark Verstegen’s Core Performance exercises to mind; particularly good for flexibility.

Do you know of a good existing pre-packaged program that meet’s my criteria, either in book or DVD form?  I’m sure there are hundreds available.

I’ll share more ideas with you in the next few days.

Steve Parker, M.D.