What exercises need to be incorporated into the training regimen for the general public?
As stated in what I’m going to call the “Prescription for Functionality and Longevity,” individuals should do the following:
- Cultivate and maintain a foundation of cardiorespiratory endurance (i.e., regularly run, bike, swim, row, etc.)
- Develop competency and consistently train functional movements: Squats, Deadlifts, Presses, Jerks, Cleans, and Snatches
- Develop proficiency, practice, and train foundational bodyweight skills: Pull-ups, Pushups, Dips, Rope Climbs, Handstand Holds, Hollow Rocks and Holds, Pike-ups, L-sits, and Splits
Take a look at the movements listed above: Running, Swimming, Squats, Deadlifts, Presses, Pull-ups, Pushups, and Dips. What do all these exercises have in common? They are compound (i.e., multi-joint), natural, efficient, and effective. In other words, these movements are functional. Training functional movements elicits adaptations that prepare individuals for the demands of life. Notice, the prescription makes no mention of split routines or single-joint movements. Single-joint exercises such as leg extensions, biceps curls, and lateral raises provide no return-on-investment (ROI). The public needs to be educated on what movements are most beneficial in the development and maintenance of health, fitness, and quality of life. The ultimate goal is to help individuals achieve competency in basic functional movements, exercises that will ease the demands of life.
To answer the opening question, the general public needs to engage in the following movements:
- Squat, Front Squat, Overhead Squat
- Shoulder Press, Push Press, Push Jerk
- Deadlift, Sumo Deadlift High Pull, Medicine Ball Clean
- Run, Bike, Swim, Row, Jump Rope
- Inverted Rows
- Rope Climb
- Handstand Pushup
- Hollow Holds and Rocks
- Box Jump
- Kettlebell Swing
- Medicine Ball Slam
- Sled Push and Pull
I am recommending that individuals perform functional movements and the variations of those movements between five and six days per week at high intensities. The combinations, conditions, and formats in which these movements can be implemented are practically endless. However, the variance in training volume, duration, domain, and equipment cannot be random. In order to generate broad and desirable adaptations, improve health, and increase fitness, variance must be planned. Therefore, individuals whom wish to follow this prescription have two options: 1) Follow the programming on crossfit.com, 2) Join a local CrossFit affiliate or training facility that utilizes similar concepts and methodologies.
An individual should consider following the Workout of the Day (WOD) on crossfit.com if he/she meets the following criteria:
- He/she has the capacity to properly perform the majority of the functional exercises listed above
- He/she has previously participated in CrossFit
- He/she has access to a facility and/or the necessary equipment
- He/she understands that the WODs are written for top-level athletes, thus modifications will most likely need to be made (follow CrossFitTraining on Instagram for “Beginner” and Intermediate” variations of the WOD)
Note: In addition to crossfit.com, trusted sources of programming include: CrossFit Linchpin, CrossFit Mayhem, and CrossFit Park City
Joining a Local CrossFit Affiliate or Training Facility
An individual should consider joining a facility (CrossFit or strength and conditioning) if he/she meets the following criteria:
- He/she has not engaged in CrossFit, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and/or functional exercise
- He/she does not have a training background
- He/she is seeking guidance, community, camaraderie, and accountability
Developing the competency to adequately perform a wide variety of functional movements and the associated variations is only the beginning. Once someone has learned how to move, it is the responsibility of the coach to continuously refine and improve that individuals’ mechanics until he/she consistently moves well (i.e., when performing the exercises, the individual meets and/or exceeds all movement standards). Consistency is essential to longevity. Therefore, it is critical that coaches constantly evaluate the abilities of your athletes and clients. If an individual is not ready to advance to the next piece of the progression or a new skill, DO NOT ADVANCE. Sometimes, the best way to progress is to regress. Revert back to the previous step of the movement progression, make corrections and address the nuances of the exercise, then retest the piece of the progression in which he/she originally started. Once the athletes and/or clients demonstrate consistency, intensity can be introduced to the equation.
“Be impressed by intensity, not volume.”- Greg Glassman
Intensity generates adaptation, adaptations enhance fitness, and increased fitness results in greater quality of life and improved performance. Intensity is relative (i.e., perceived differently by athletes and clients), however, this does not imply that individuals should exercises at sub-maximal and moderate levels of intensity. Training at high intensity is necessary for all persons seeking to increase and/or maintain his/her fitness and performance. In regards to training for general physical preparedness (GPP), prescribing intensity need not be complex. As in CrossFit, the concept of Threshold Training should be utilized to dictate and monitor exercise intensity.
There is an inverse relationship between technique and intensity (i.e., speed and power). As the rate of speed or the load increases, the occurrence of mechanical faults will most likely increase. However, similar to the Principle of Overload put forth by the NSCA, the training stress must exceed the athletes’/clients’ physical capacity in order to generate results (i.e., in order to develop the competency to move well at high rates of speed and/or large loads, individuals must train at intensities that exceed their physical capacities, ultimately producing minor biomechanical faults). This requires coaches and trainers to constantly monitor athletes and clients. If an individual is moving well, instruct him/her to increase the speed and/or load. Following the initial cues of “speed up” or “add weight,” evaluate the movement again. If the individual continues to demonstrate consistency, continue to increase the speed. However, if his/her technique begins to deteriorate, reduce the speed until mechanics are restored. Wash, rinse, and repeat until the training session is complete. Safe, efficient, and effective positions (i.e., sound technique) enable the productive application of force.