Exercises I Used To Do

Exercises I used to do:

  1. Lateral Raises
  2. Upright Rows
  3. Bicep Curls Variations (w/ db’s, bb, preacher bench, machine, etc.)
  4. Tricep Variations (overhead, cables w/ ropes or bar, kickbacks, etc.)
  5. Chest Fly Variations (db’s, machines, and some 1-arm standing cable thingy.  Ask Max Shank about that one)
  6. Leg Extensions
  7. Leg Curls (lying and standing)
  8. Calf Raises (seated and standing)
  9. Leg Presses
  10. Incline Presses
  11. Lat Pulldowns
  12. Seated Row Variations
  13. Hack Squats
  14. All Hammer Strength Machine Variations
  15. Crunches/Sit Ups and all imaginable Variations
  16. Barbell Bench Press
  17. Shrugs

Exercises I Frequently Use:

  1. Snatch and Variations
  2. Clean and Variations
  3. Front Squat
  4. Chin/Pull Up
  5. Inverted Row
  6. 1-Leg Squat
  7. Single Leg Deadlift
  8. KB Swing
  9. Get-Up
  10. Sled Pushes
  11. Kettlebell Press Variations
  12. Weighted Push Ups (sometimes w/ rings)
  13. Various Grip Exercises

Exercises I Use But Less Frequently:

  1. Zercher Squat
  2. Farmer Walks
  3. Deadlift
  4. DB Bench Press Variations
  5. AB Wheel
  6. Medicine Ball Throws Variations

That’s a lot of “stuff” that has been done away with.  I’ve written in the past about keeping it simple.  There are likely a few that I missed but if you look at these lists and actually add up the many variations from the first list you will notice that I currently use fewer exercises than I have stopped using over the years.  During the past 2 years or so I have further taken a minimal approach to my training sessions by reducing the total number of exercises performed each day.  Most of the exercises that I no longer use haven’t been performed since about early 2007 when I decided that all the extra stuff wasn’t needed, which brings me to my next point.  Almost all of those exercises don’t have a lot of payoff as far as becoming a better athlete or reaching an advanced level of strength.  Not to mention almost all of them are performed on a fixed axis machine, while sitting, or even worse, both of those.  I guess Bruce Lee is famously quoted as saying something about absorbing what is useful and discarding the rest.  Well, as I become older and wiser I have adapted some “new” things to my training such as Zercher squats and farmer carries and removed isolation movements such as bicep curls and crunches.  I think it is also important to note that programs I design for my clients/athletes are relatively similar to my own, although I don’t teach a ton of Olympic lifting compared to other movements and certainly Zercher squats aren’t for everyone.  The key here is to ask yourself what works best to reach your goals?  If your goal is in fact to have the biggest gunz this side of the Mississippi then maybe doing a ton of bicep curls is ok, although debatable in some cases.  However, if your goal is to be a better athlete or to simply lead a healthy and active lifestyle then all the curls and press downs and leg presses, etc. just aren’t useful and can in fact be inhibiting your progress.  Train hard, train smart.

– Mike Baltren