Tom, the personal trainer who founded Waite Training in Leeds has many tips to help you get started on working for your fitness goals.
While strength training in some form or another belongs in everyone's training regime, selecting just five individual movements would be difficult. People's bodies are different. Their physiological differences, unique biomechanics, and level of experience with specific exercises would mean it'd be unsafe to make a broad generalisation.
It would be accurate to say that exercises that transfer out of the gym and into everyday life are the best choices for most people. That strength training is crucial for every population. And building strength is just a part of strength training benefits, which also include a lean physique and fat loss.
The 5 Fundamental Movement Patterns
Rather than speaking in specifics about a particular exercise, it's simpler to think in terms of movement patterns. This way of thinking about moving goes beyond what equipment you can access or one specific workout style. It's bigger than that, and it's suitable for everyone.
#1. Squat Variation
Squats happen every time you sit down. They involve bending the knees and sitting back and down. They're not bad for your knees, and when done correctly, they're a movement that uses multiple joints in your body at the same time.
If you have no equipment, or you're a beginner, starting with a bodyweight squat (sometimes known as an air squat) is excellent. You might load this movement if you have a kettlebell or a dumbbell and progress it to a goblet squat, holding the weight in front of your body, under your chin. You may even use a barbell and back squat, front squat, or overhead squat.
#2. Deadlift Variation
Deadlifts are technically referred to as a "hinged" movement. This movement is designed to strengthen your entire posterior chain, including all the muscles of your core, around your back and glutes, and your legs.
If you have no equipment, or you're a beginner, a simple deadlift variation could be a "good morning". Deadlifts start with the hips being pushed back while the knees are soft - but not bent. If you have a barbell, lifting the weight from the floor until you're standing upright.
If you are looking for explosive power from the hips that can transfer into other sports, consider a dynamic and explosive kettlebell swing, or if you're able to invest in a coach, the Olympic Clean exercise.
#3. Pressing Variation
Pressing movements refer to pushing with your arms in any direction. Three main categories are within pressing movements.
The specifics you select will depend mainly on your goal and which muscle groups you're trying to target. In general, pressing movements will work the shoulders, chest, and triceps.
#4. Pulling Variation
Pulling movements also use the upper body and will use the opposite muscles to the pushing variations above. You can pull along a vertical axis, using pull-ups as a bodyweight movement, or lat pulldowns as a resistance machine-based movement.
You can also pull horizontally, performing a bodyweight inverted row or a bent-over dumbbell or barbell row. You can also use a cable machine. Even a bicep curl is considered to be a pull.
#5. Loaded Carry
Loaded carries are a whole-body movement that includes everything from your core stability to your grip strength. Think of the time when you have to carry heavy shopping bags from the supermarket to your car or even home.
In short, it's the ability to pick up some kind of weight and walk with it. These are sometimes referred to as "a farmers walk" when they use dumbbells or kettlebells. They can also use odd objects, such as sacks or yokes, if your gym has them.
By designing your workout plan around these five fundamental movement patterns, you will be developing strength from your traps to your toes. If the movement is new to you, start with bodyweight options where you're working against gravity to master the skills required to move your body through space. Far from being an easy option, this is the foundation of gymnastics movements. The efficiency with bodyweight movements is a precursor to making sure you won't be injured when you load these movements with weights.
If you're interested in learning more about using weights for strength development, a great place to start would be to speak to a personal trainer. They will advise you on working safely with resistance and safely progressing each exercise for your body. If you'd like a commitment-free chat about your goals, feel free to get in touch!