A client recently asked me how, after our four years of training together, I can still continue to come up with new exercises most sessions. She thought I must read countless books.
“Yeah I do read a bit” I said, “but that’s not the reason”. A bad trainer is a trainer that is simply a memory bank of different exercises. A good trainer, on the other hand, is one that knows the function and orientation of the major muscles and, more importantly, that understands movement. The combination of these two skills will allow you to come up with endless exercises.
Understanding movement is so important because that is what exercise is all about: manipulating movement in a way that stimulates a physical gain. Now you may be thinking there aren’t a million different movements possible so how can I come up with endless exercises? That’s where your creativity comes in.
A few weeks ago we discussed the primal movements and these are a great place to start with this movement principle.
Once you master the basics of each principle you’re ready to get creative. Creativity comes from manipulating the variables. Variables like the type of weight (dumbbell, barbell, kettlebell, powerbag, medicine ball etc); holding a weight in one or both hands; changing the balance component (Swiss Balls, Bosu’s, split or square stance); changing the movement speed (generally by making it faster without forgoing technique); combinations (combine more than one movement into an exercise) and of course increasing loads, reps and sets.
Don’t get too excited and change every exercise every time. Give your body a chance.
Now, by no means have I given you all the variables, far from it. You can change exercises any way you see fit. Just keep in mind that the variable should challenge your body and have it move in a direction towards your goals.
Note: single plane movements on gym machines are not movements.
These are a little like moving without thought. There are some instances where they’re valuable: if you are 50+, new to exercise or interested in body building.