Certainly more Americans need to make exercise a regular part of their lives. However, for those who do exercise regularly there are some issues you should consider. Many people who do have the discipline to exercise regularly simply do the same things the same way over and over. Not only does this get a redundant, but it may lead to overuse injuries.
It is important to consider the following. What does one’s body need be able to do for a lifetime? What activities does one enjoy? Your exercise routines should address these two questions. The body must be able to bend at the ankles, knees, hips, and lower back – this is true flexibility. The body must have balance. To build a body that is truly functional the exercises must approach the choice of exercises to develop all three links of the chain – upper body, middle, and lower.
Upper body exercises should involve pushing and pulling. The best upper body pushing exercise is the push up. It is safe, and it addresses building strength in the chest, shoulders and triceps. The best pulling exercises are variations of pull ups and rowing movements that create scapular retraction.
Lower body exercises should include lunges, squats, deadlifts and variations of these exercises. The most important of these exercises is the ability to lunge free handed through a full range of motion for at least 10-15 repetitions per leg.
The best exercise to develop the middle of the body or what is often referred to as the core is the plank; however, all the previous exercises mentioned will build proper core strength through the abdominals, obliques, and spinal erectors. Often people focus on crunches and sit ups. I am not saying that one should not include those exercises, but they are not as important as the plank and plank variations. The reason is the crunch / sit up develop flexion. In our sedentary modern lives we sit in flexion all day long. We need to develop extension and the plank will do it.
Do the exercises you enjoy, but definitely include the one’s you may be missing. All these exercises may be modified for almost all populations. For those who may not know where to start, need help to modify the exercises, or to make sure the exercises are being performed safely, a personal trainer for at least a short period of time can be very helpful. Make your discipline count and build a body that works.