Q and A: Best and Worst Exercises?!

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Q- What do you consider the best strength training exercises? Worst?

A- This is a loaded question and I can write a book about it. I am assuming you have read 90 million books already,  failed to get results, and want me to get right to the point with my answer.  I will list some exercises after a few principles I follow when picking exercises/writing program design.

*There has to be some form of assessment/ questionnaire before I can just start giving you exercises. Maybe you have not worked out in the past 3 years? Maybe you have an injury? I can’t just throw you out there with someone and say “go on and jump!” or “run on the treadmill” even though your knees are already messed up! If someone is not willing to sit down and discuss YOUR SPECIFIC GOALS they are just taking your money. I am not going to just hand the same program to someone regardless of their goals. I take into consideration everything…..training age(different from age), amount of time you have to train, your mobility assessment, etc.

*risk vs reward- After the assessment we will know what exercises are simply not worth it, FOR YOU!  An exercise can be the best exercise for one person, and the worst exercise for the person next to them.

*Most people are short on time so Compound Exercises are better. Compound exercises are those that involve a lot of muscles at the same time. For example when you push you are working chest, shoulders, and triceps  at the same time.  Isolation exercises can be useful in some cases. The average person who just wants to lose some weight and feel better should not spend most of their time on them. For example a triceps kickback is an isolation exercise and it will not do anything for the back of your arms if it’s the focus of your program. You will not be burning very many calories while doing it either.

People end up doing a lot of isolation exercises because …….

*It’s the only thing they can do at a commercial gym and not look dumb

*They are easier than compound exercises

*Someone at the gym who  looks good said it will make your arms or butt look good

*They might “feel the burn”…this so called burn has not caused you to get stronger or lose a pound but it makes you feel like you are doing something

90 percent of machines are useless. I do however like pulley and cable machines and a few that work your back. People think they are safe on these machines when In reality it’s just restricting your body’s natural movement and causing more injuries. When you see that person load up a leg press and then barely move their legs, its doing nothing. When you see that person load up the leg press and then not adjust the seat right and round their low back they are in the process of getting injured.

Machines were created because it made commercial gyms scalable for business growth. It allowed these businesses to open up 90 million locations and then hire sales people who have never trained a person a day in their life. If you have ever been on that “commercial gym tour” where they show you the TV on the treadmill, cool machines, and their smoothie bar you know what I am talking about. And in case you were wondering there is no super treadmill that will cause you to burn 200 million calories in an hour. I will admit it’s a good business model to fool people into running in place. Not to mention the calorie counters are completely off..https://www.mensfitness.com/training/how-accurate-are-calorie-counters

Q- Detric, can you get to the point and tell me what exercises will make my butt look better,  my arms look “toned,” remove the fat from my mid-section, and then  make me look and feel 20 years younger in the next 28 days even if I miss half the sessions?

A- ugh, yeah, kind of. I will give you some of favorite exercises below.  If that is your question though,  you are better off taking advantage of the FREE 30 MIN SUCCESS SESSION.  You might need more help than my newsletter can provide. Don’t worry,  I wont give you “the tour” or lie about some super training method I created.

Category one- If Facebook would allow me to say in a relationship with these exercises then I would……..

Deadlift variations- You will probably have to pick up something off the floor at some point in your life so learn to do it right. RDLs, hex bar, kettlebells, off a step if you lack mobility, landmine, etc. The barbell can be great for those that have the mobility to do this without messing up their back.

Squat variations- I have about 200 million variations of this. After the assessment I would be able to tell you the best one for you.

Variations of pushing away from your body or above (for some people)- 90 million variations of this, but make sure you can do a push-up the right way before trying to load the barbell with more weight than you handle and then doing a partial bench press. I love dumbells since they are easier on the shoulders. I love the landmine presses because its easier then pressing above head on the shoulders.

Split squat and lunge variations (kind of)- For those who have a lot of weight to lose then it might not be a good fit. If you have knee issues it might not be a good fit. For someone who has back issues and wants to load their lower body(without bending over) they are amazing! I go with splits squats in place, then backward lunges (easier on the knees), regular lunges, and then later I increase the range of motion with the back foot on a step.  I also have variations to remove some bodyweight and help with balance if you are not ready for this.

Pulling variations – I LOVE THESE. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THESE. FOR EVERYONE! You are probably on your computer or phone reading this with terrible posture. You need to row more. All of you!

Plank variations/anti rotation ab exercises – I am not a huge fan of things like sit ups and tons of rotation but I do like planks and most variations of them.

Equipment I like– TRX, sleds, hex bars, landmine trainers, kettlebells (it depends on the person and the exercise), bands, dumbells, med balls, barbells(for the right person!) and I will throw in the battle ropes because everyone loves them! There is no magic about any of them. If someone is making it seem like they cure  all of your problems don’t listen to them. They are all tools to help you reach a goal.

I plan to talk about  exercises I hate in a future article. If you have questions about a specific exercise or program then hit reply and ask! I love questions! I hate to see people wasting their time in the gym, getting hurt, and not getting results.


Detric Smith, CSCS, ACSM EP-C, still a 49ers fan

P.S- did you know about our PROGRAM DESIGN SERVICES?! This is perfect for people that might not be local, have a gym membership elsewhere or a home gym they don’t know how to use, or maybe you are motivated and need an occasional check in session/new program. No membership required for this option. Send over an email (info@resultsperformancetraining.com) or text me at 757 589 7028 to discuss our different options based on your goals.