The Best and Worst Exercise For You

Hello lovely people!

I hope your training is going well and you are managing to survive the crazy heat of summer. Yesterday I was watching Dr Oz (and no actually he isn’t from Australia) and one segment included the Best and Worst Exercise for you. I don’t normally watch this show by the way, it just happened to be on while I was training in the gym – how appropriate!

What is the one best exercise you can do? This is a really tough question. Is it possible to choose one exercise that can be considered ‘the best’? There is plenty of debate on this topic and the experts all have their own opinions – there is no unanimous decision. Suggestions from exercise physiologists, professors, doctors and endurance exercise researchers include butterfly, brisk walking, the burpee, and squats. While I can’t imagine doing butterfly or burpees everyday (and enjoying it!), the common theme in these exercises is compound movement – meaning the utilization of two or more joints in performing the movement. For an exercise to be considered a good one, the movement needs to recruit multiple muscles, some to stabilize and others to perform the movement. This keeps your heart rate higher than a simple exercise would, increasing the workout intensity so you will see greater results.

Back to Dr Oz, he says the best exercise for you is a lunge. I agree it is a great exercise as it requires activation of the major leg muscles and core simultaneously. According to Oz, the worst is a crunch. This is debatable, I wouldn’t consider it the worst exercise ever but I can think of more effective core exercises you can do. Plank, Plank, Plank!

Here is my two cents on the best and worst resistance exercises:

THE BEST: Overhead squat. WHAT MAKES IT SO GREAT? This exercise is a total body move. It requires strength, co-ordination, balance, flexibility, range of motion, and the foundation is your core. Not only do you strengthen all the major muscles in your legs, it works to stabilize your lumbar and shoulder region at the same time! It is a difficult move to execute although it can be progressed or regressed, meaning you can make it harder or easier to suit your skill level.

THE WORST: Good Mornings. REALLY, THE WORST? The risk outweighs the benefit. The correct manual lifting technique involves bending your knees, squatting down and keeping the weight you are lifting close to your body. So why would you want to keep your legs straight, put a barbell on your shoulders behind your neck and then bend over? I can feel my back breaking just thinking about this. You will never catch me or any of my clients doing this exercise! There are plenty of other movements you can incorporate into your workout routine to safely target your erector spinae, glutes and hamstrings instead of this one.

So the take-home message for today: When you are working out, choose exercises that activate the big muscle groups at the same time. This will burn more calories and maximize your workout time. The BEST exercise YOU can do is one you enjoy and stay committed to!

Trainer Kate :)

  • teamme

    Love it Miss Kate. I remember arguing with you once, many moons ago, and I said “the only exercise better than a dead lift is a really heavy dead lift” and you called me a meat head. Ah happy days. Anyway, I have a couple of clients who I would like to get overhead squatting but their flexibility, particularly internal shoulder rotation is severely limited, Office work guys, you know how that works, Got any tips on regressing an overhead that I can use with them? If its too hard to explain you could always youtube it! (nudge nudge)

    MIss ya miss,

    • Outback Fitness

      Hey Mac! Ah the good old “the deadlift is the best exercise ever and that’s it” discussion has resurfaced! I remember that argument :)
      Sounds like your client needs a few corrective exercises to establish the correct movement pattern. Stretch the shoulder complex first and work on releasing the tension in the lats and pec major. Activating and strengthening the post delt/teres minor/infraspinatus will help to reduce the rounded shoulders. Basic overhead squats without weight is always a good place to start until they loosen up :)
      I’ll send you a bunch of other exercise ideas and the videos are on the way… miss you!