“What’s the best gym exercise?”
This is a pertinent and frequently asked question. It kind of goes with:
Firstly, and linked with my post last week, pick something that you’re going to actually do. There’s no point in buying a rower for your home if you hate rowing. You might as well just donate that money to charity as that piece of kit is likely to be one of your most expensive examples of a dust collector.
SO, getting back to the question in hand, let’s assume that you’re motivated to do gym-based exercise and have been for a while. The best exercise is clearly determined by what you want to achieve…however, an absolute must is the deadlift.
The deadlift works the following areas of the body:
- Front of thighs
- Back of thighs
- Back – upper and lower
Given the multiple muscle groups used, it’s quite tiring … and calorie-costly!!
So, if the exercise is so good, why is it avoided like the plague, especially by women? It could be because it involves using a barbell, which is usually situated in the ‘scary’ free-weights section. It’s also a fairly technical exercise to master – maybe people are afraid of looking a bit silly while they learn. Maybe your gym doesn’t have a barbell that you load up with plates. No matter, don’t worry – just do it!
- Everyone has had to learn at some point, thus you won’t be made fun of. In fact you might even get a help in hand.
- It’s not that hard and you don’t have to start heavy to get the correct technique.
- Don’t have a barbell to hand – no problem! Dumbbells can be used as an alternative
Here’s what to do and how to do it:
See my post here to learn the correct technique.
Basics include keep your back straight at all times, look up and drive through your heel when lifting the weight off the floor.
Once you’ve mastered the technique try incorporate the following in to your training. Try to perform your deadlift session at the start of your workout as any residual muscle fatigue from previous exercise might affect your technique.
Sets: 5 (including 1 warm-up set of approximately ½ your training weight)
Reps: 6-8 RM (warm-up do 10 reps) See here for an explanation on repetitions maximum (RM) if you’re not familiar
Rest: 2 minutes between sets
Using a similar technique as with the barbell (looking up, back straight, drive through your heels), hold the dumbbells to the side (instead of in front) to ensure you work your bum and backs of thighs. (sorry for the sketchy cartoon image – still working on my media library)