What would you do if you could only pick 6 exercises to put into your strength-training program?
Here’s a better question: What if strength was only one component of your entire program?
If you compete in strength sports such as powerlifting or Olympic lifting, picking your exercises is easy. But if you’re an athlete, you have hundreds, if not thousands, of exercises to choose from.
How do you whittle it down and only focus on a few exercises, the ones that would be the most impactful to your overall strength and physique?
These are the exact questions I was asking myself a few months ago.
I’ve been lucky in recent years to work with a handful of professional and Olympic-caliber athletes. The problem is, in my mind, I’m a “weights” guy. In my estimation, everyone can benefit from getting stronger.
And I still feel that way, no matter how many books I read, conferences I attend, etc. But I also realize that for an athlete, there’s a lot more to athletic success than simply being strong in the weight room.
If I’m trying to get someone ready for a 90-minute soccer game, we’re doing a ton of conditioning in that last phase or two leading up to camp. I don’t have a ton of time to do 6, 8, or 10 lifts in one training session.
So what do I do? Forget about weight lifting? Lose all the strength that we’ve taken precious time to develop in the off-season?
What we have to do is focus on a handful of big-bang lifts that will not only improve performance on and off the field, but maintain our mobility, strength, and power as well.
As a result, I came up with a list of the following exercises. I call them “athletic strength” exercises, not because you can’t get strong off them, but because the powerlifter or hardcore meathead may not totally agree with them. I’m okay with that.
If you’re a powerlifter, squat, bench, and deadlift until the cows come home.
If you’re an Olympic lifter, snatch and clean and jerk repeatedly.
However, if you’re an athlete that wants to not only get strong but also develop and maintain other critical qualities such as power, speed, mobility, and general athleticism, these are your exercises.