By: Corbin Williams, NPTI-CPT
Personal Trainer/Nutrition Coach
How many times do you hear of a trainer who “Thinks outside the box”? I read an article not long ago where the author talked about this saying. I couldn’t help but agree with everything he wrote. When a trainer seems to be doing things that are not normal or seem like they are “out of the box” ideas, it makes me worry about the client. Is that person getting stronger or moving better? Are they learning correct movement patterns and functional movements? Or are they creating a discouraging and tough workout with little or no effect other than hurting joints? The reason to learn the basics are simple. I love the illustration that was given in that article. You can go to any martial arts website and buy yourself a black karate belt. Then tell people you are a black belt in karate. But as soon as you are asked to prove it, it is obvious that you have no idea what you are doing. You MUST learn from the beginning. Learning even the most basic moves makes all the difference in any training program. Sometimes I have had clients who don’t want to do an exercise because it’s “too basic “or “they already know it”. These clients are now glad I made them start from the beginning, because they learned what they thought was right, actually was wrong. They learned correct posture and form and time under tension. There are many variables that can turn a basic exercise into a really tough but effective exercise. Basics are best to be learned and not only learned but mastered. Think about it. Would you want someone teaching you something if they couldn’t do it themselves? If your child was in swimming lessons and the teacher couldn’t swim, how long do you think you would let them teach your child? We NEED to learn the basics. The following ideas are NOT “out of the box” ideas, but rather very “INSIDE the box”. These are a few basic exercises that everyone should be able to perform at any age.
1. Upper body pushing exercise: Basic Pushup. This is done by starting face down on the floor. Place your hands out to the sides your shoulders till your elbows make a 90 degree angle. Keeping your entire body stiff and picking it all up at the same time, push your entire body up. You should be able to draw a straight line from your shoulder to your heals that passes through the center of your hip. Use a pad or Nerf ball between your hands for a depth gauge. Touch this depth gauge with your chest each rep. Elevate hands on a step, box, or even standing facing a wall to make easier, and elevate feet to make harder. (Major muscles worked, Pectoralis Major, Anterior Deltoid) These muscles are used any time you push something away from you such as closing a door, push in a chair, or close a drawer.
See: Fig. 1 & Fig. 2
2. Upper body pulling exercise: Basic Chin up. The difference between a Chin up and a Pull up are small yet affect you extremely different. A chin up is done starting in a standing position hands on a bar over head palms FACING you about shoulder width apart. (In a pull up the palms face away from you with wider grip on the bar) keeping elbows tight to your sides when pulling up, pull your body up to the bar till you can clear the bar with your chin. To make this easier, use the assistance of a heavy rubber band. ( Major muscles worked, Latissimus Dorsi, Teres Major) These muscles are used every time we pull something toward us, such as opening a drawer or the door to your house or a car door.
See: Fig. 3 & Fig. 4
3. Knee dominant exercise: Basic Squat. The squat is performed by keeping feet shoulder width apart, keeping your shoulders back and keep your back upright. Squat down till your upper legs are parallel or slightly lower to the floor. Raise your hand out in front of you for balance as you squat. Return to your start position. Proper squat position will make a line from head through your hip parallel with a line through your knee to your heal. To make this easier attach two overhead heavy bands or heavy straps and hold them for assistance to stand back up. (Major muscles worked: Quadricep group, Gluteus Maximus) These muscles are used every time we navigate stairs or step up onto something and even when we correctly squat down to pick something up off the floor. (remember: lift with your knees)
See: Fig. 5 & Fig. 6
4. Hip dominant exercise: Hip Extension Reach. To do this exercise, place a “target” on the ground such as a cone. With knees slightly bent bend at the hip and reach toward object. Let your hip drift backward as well to keep your back in a reverse c curve position (Lordotic: see arrow in picture). Don’t round out your back. If you have trouble keeping your back in the right position, extend the opposite leg straight out behind you. Elevate the cone to make easier. Alternate, reaching with each hand. (Muscles worked: Hamstrings, Gluteus Maximus) These muscles are used when standing up from a seated position or picking up grocery bags from your trunk or off the floor ( though not the best way to pick up something off the floor) Also used to just keep you standing upright.
See: Fig. 7 & Fig. 8
As you can see these four really basic exercises have a really useful purpose in our everyday lives. If you can’t do any of these, what makes you think you can get crazy with your training technique? Everyday movement is important to a healthy lifestyle. Without good movement you are unable to take that next step to becoming a stronger and healthier individual. You have to be able to do the basics, master the basics and make them first nature to you before moving on to something more advanced. To be effective, less is more. Try to think of the K.I.S.S. theory. Keep It Simple Stupid. Keep your exercises basic, the more complicated your workouts become, the less likely you are to do them. Don’t “think outside the box” till you completely know every inch of the inside of your box like the back of your hand. And remember, even if you are already advanced, don’t over look the simple basics that got you there. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it! So Get Real and Get Fit!!!
Corbin Williams, NPTI-CPT
Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach
Certified Nutrition Coach
Graduated from the National Personal Training Institute
Owner of GetReal Training, LLC