Simplifying Exercise

Posted: January 16, 2015 in Strength and Conditioning for Health and Fitness

There are so many exercises that those who would want to start a training program would get confused. Even athletes and their sports coaches can be misinformed by all the hype. Some athletes and sports coaches may already have preconceived notion of what their Strength and Conditioning training program should be but it would not necessarily be what they need at their current condition. The same is true for individuals who may not be training for sports performance. This makes it harder for a Strength and Conditioning Coach, or for a Personal Trainer, to implement a realistic plan.


Educating ourselves helps us to set realistic expectations. Exercise may seem complicated by all the conflicting ideas but to make it easier to understand let us compare food – which we encounter everyday, to exercise.


Most people, especially kids, love junk food. Junk food tastes good but is of little nutritional value. A close to ideal eating habit would be eating at the proper time a staple food which would sustain our energy requirement, some side dishes for other nutrients needed for normal body functions, and a lot of fluids. Substituting junk food for the staple food would sooner or later make us fat, weak, grouchy, and in the long term may develop diabetes, and/or hypertension. Other problems jump in too like lower back & joint problems due to excess body weight which a weak musculature and cardiovascular system cannot support. It is true that healthier food like vegetables may not be as tasty as some junk food but that would not diminish their contribution to our health. We certainly cannot substitute our carbohydrate intake with chocolates and doughnuts day in and day out. We have to eat food of better quality and at the same time enjoy our food.


When it comes to exercise, there are similarities. There are exercises that, when used in a well designed training plan, would produce the intended results. They can improve not just one but two or more fitness components. For a particular training objective, there are exercises which would bring about the best stimulus for the the required change. These would make up the main part of the training program. Most of the time time and effort in a training session is allocated for these exercises. They are the staple part of your exercise diet. These are called the “Main Exercises” or “Core Exercises” (which is oftentimes confused with core exercises pertaining to exercises for the torso musculature.)


The training goal would dictate the choices and type of exercise. For this blog, we would be focusing on the description of exercises to improve strength.

valstrengthtrainingdeadliftCharacteristics of the “Main” exercises for Strength are: mostly ground based or done in a standing position; involves most major joints in the body like the hip, knees, shoulders, ankles, elbows, and wrist; requires some skill and technique; equipment used are free weights especially the barbells. Load would lean towards the heavy side. Kettlebells, dumbells, and  bodyweight is used too especially if the strength level of the trainee is still not so high. Examples of Strength exercises would be Squats, Deadlift, and Standing overhead press. The more powerful movements would be developed using Cleans, Snatches, jerks, and plyometric jumps. These require time, patience, feedback, and simply a lot of practice but they help improve a lot of qualities needed in athletic endeavors. It takes some time to learn them and they are generally harder to execute. Which probably contributes to the reasons why people (who do not understand or are not motivated) would not like to do them. Just like vegetables- these exercises contribute a lot to a person’s valstrengthtrainingsquatbbhealth & fitness but are generally not liked due to their inherent nature. And the bottom line is: STRENGTH is one of the most important attribute that influences most, if not all others directly and indirectly.


There are also exercises that can be referred to as “Assistive” or “Supplemental”. They are derived from the main exercises and as their name implies, they are used to supplement the main exercises for a more overall development. They are like the side dishes. They are usually derivatives of the main exercises. Examples are Split Squat, lunges, One arm press, and Overhead Squats. Kettlebells and dumbells are great tools for these exercises. These exercises help to develop certain portions of a movement that may not be emphasized as much in the “Main” exercises. Load is not as high as the main exercise.



There are also a lot of exercises which look “cool” and are trendy, BUT may not necessarily provide the required stimulus for promoting positive adaptation towards the needed athletic or fitness component. Some are marketed to “significantly improve strength” but it can be misleading. These exercises are marketed mostly as “functional” but the word “functional” is vague and would mean different things to different people. They may have been bastardized form of rehab exercises and were used for the wrong purpose but are marketed very well. Examples are squats while standing on a swiss ball. The risk would somehow negate the benefits. If the person falls from the swiss ball and gets whacked in the head by the barbell and spills his neural matter all over the floor, that would not in any way make him or her strong and healthy. Like junk food, these exercises are still exercises and a lot of them have something of value- if used for their correct purpose. But they should not make up the bulk of a person’s training plan especially if the training goal is to increase strength. They should not be prescribed if they do not contribute to the the realization of the training goals of the individual. If strength exercise is food, these exercises are junk food.


As kids begin to understand more about which food is better for them, their preference may be shifted towards healthier food choices. Similar situation is when adults are educated about exercises, they may prefer those that would give them the best return of their valuable time, effort, and money. If you want to live better, then train better. Choose your exercises wisely, educate yourself well about exercises, and train with people who you can trust- those have the qualifications and experience with the same population you are in. Add the required effort and commitment and you would make yourself better. Train Better, Live Better!


  1. […] Note that the KB exercises mainly used in my personal observation, as well as in the studies were the main KB exercises like swings, KB snatches or Clean and jerk. Plain and simple. No fancy standing on one leg while juggling something overhead. […]


  2. […] focusing on too much details since the details would be dependent on each person’s circumstance. It would be better to try to make the training plan simple but effective rather than so complicated … Train Better, Live […]


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