I’ve seen people doing some pretty creative things in the gym recently, and while it’s very impressive to stand on a Bosu ball while you’re curling a dumbbell and squatting on one leg, it’s not always necessary.
Going back to the basics and building off of simplicity can often give you the most effective workout. Working with bodyweight exercises and basic compound movements will help to shape the base of your workout, and allow you to add in variations and other complexities as you progress.
Below you will find the four basic movements that you should be using in every weekly workout cycle.
Movement 1: Hip Hinge
The deadlift and other variations of the deadlift, such as romanian deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, and sumo deadlifts, are all perfect examples of a hip hinge exercise.
Incorporating this compound movement pattern allows you to work your entire body at once, increasing your calorie burn and strengthening all of your muscles.
When a movement involves your whole body, you benefit by lifting more weight, getting stronger, and progressing faster.
If you aren’t already utilizing hip hinge movement variations in your workout routine, start by adding in a deadlift variation once or twice a week!
Movement 2: Knee Bend
Squats and variations of a squat, such as single leg squats, box squats, and goblet squats, are great examples of a knee bend exercise.
When you perform a knee bend movement such as a squat, you are not only working your legs, quads, hamstrings, and glutes, but you are also engaging your core for stability, and your upper body as you hold weights.
Again, squats and deadlifts are known as “compound movements,” because they work your entire body, rather than just focusing on one muscle group. Utilizing these compound movements can make for a more efficient and effective workout, as you experience a full body burn.
Start with bodyweight squats, and progress yourself to holding weights or a kettlebell.
Movement 3: Push
Push movements can include push-ups, bench press, overhead press, and other variations of these exercises, and focus mainly on your upper body.
A push movement helps to develop a strong back, shoulders, arms, and chest (and yes ladies, we need chest muscle too).
Building a well balanced body means working all of your muscle groups, not just your favorites or the ones you hope will grow the most.
Push movements also engage your core for stability, and keep your legs tight for support, such as with an overhead press movement.
Bodyweight exercises such as push-ups have become highly underrated, but are extremely effective for developing your upper body.
If you currently can’t do a push-up, start by practicing incline push-ups. Place your hands onto an elevated surface, or even the wall if you need to, and perform as many reps as you can.
Once that becomes too easy, lower the elevation, until you’ve made your way to the floor!
Movement 4: Pull
By working more than one muscle group at a time, you not only strengthen multiple muscles at once, but you also ensure that you are building a balanced body.
Similar to the push-up, the pull-up is a challenging bodyweight movement that will guarantee you are building a strong upper body.
Mastering the pull-up often requires time, patience, and practice, but your effort will result in a beautifully sculpted back and arms. Check out this article to learn how to conquer the pull-up.
Practicing pull and push movements every week during your workouts will enable you to work all of your upper body muscle groups and build dynamic, functional strength.
Build your own great workout program
Overall, these four basic compound movements will be the building blocks of any great workout program.
All four movements can be progressed and regressed as needed, so no matter your current level of fitness, you can utilize some form of these exercises to help you progress.
Remember, keeping your workouts simple yet challenging will allow you to perform efficient, effective, and functional workouts every time you hit the gym.