My Favourite Exercises!
Exercise is one the most easily prescribed mode of treatment to improve health and wellbeing. There is irrefutable evidence that suggests the beneficial effects of exercise to prevent and treat several diseases. I feel privileged that I am able to use exercise as a form of treatment. In doing so, I always make sure that my client knows what the exercise is, how to do the exercise properly, why we’re doing this exercise and the benefits of the exercise. I always look for exercises where I can get the most benefit, meaning maximizing gains while promoting stability and control. Here are my top three prescribed exercises.
1. Glute Bridges
Personally, I think the gluteals are the most underrated muscle in the body. Some people would prefer bigger chest or back or biceps or triceps. They do not realize that it’s the gluteals that hold everything together. Gluteal muscle strength and endurance play a significant role in injury prevention, normalizing gait pattern and posture, eliminating pain and enhancing athletic performance.
The beauty of performing glute bridges is that unlike any other lower limb or hip exercise, you perform this exercise lying down, knees and feet hip width apart. The goal of this exercise is to contract the glutes by lifting up the hips towards the ceiling without the knees moving. Key here is rolling your hips up as you lift and rolling back down as well. 1 repetition should take around 3-5 seconds to maintain control of your gluteals.
Once you have mastered double leg bridges, you can progress to single leg and then move on to more complex lower limb strengthening exercise such as my next favourite exercise.
My most favourite and what I feel is the most important exercise for the lower limbs is the squat. Universally agreed on by conditioning specialists, squat help build lower limb strength and lean mass and is among the top three prescribed exercises for sports training, rehabilitation and prehabilitation. The squat has the ability to mimic many different activities of daily living such as picking something off from the floor and putting it either on top of a table or overhead.
The prime movers of the squat are the quadriceps (front of thigh muscles) and the hip extensors (glutes and hamstrings).
The movement of the squat starts with initiating backward and downward movement of your hips and bending of your knees while maintaining your back and chest upright. Next step is to continue lowering your hips towards the floor with more knee flexion and making sure that your knees don’t go past your toes. Lastly slowly pushing up through your heels and extending your knees and hips as you come back up. The squat, being a closed kinematic chain exercise, trains the body to move the ankle, knee and hips together all in one movement. It not only loads the lower limbs, but also tightens the abdominals, all in a span of 5-7 seconds. You can add variations to your squat such as depth, foot placement and of course weight.
The push up is an excellent upper body exercise that promotes muscle strength and endurance for a good number of muscles. I think that before progressing to any type of strength based exercise regimen, people should be able to carry out their own body weight that is why before proceeding with bench press or any other types of presses, try a push up.
The push up is not only for the pectorals or the triceps, it is also for your core/trunk muscles. While you are in lying down on your stomach, your chest and triceps moves your body up and down, but it is your core/trunk muscles that keeps your body straight and still. Push-ups is also a great exercise in putting load into your shoulders, your rotator cuff holds your shoulder together therefore is strengthened as well. You can progress by moving your hands and/or your feet closer together or farther apart.
Any type of exercise is beneficial. Any exercise will make you feel better and stronger. Everybody deserves to feel good, right? Try these exercises out.