Monday, October 4, 2010

Another Time Efficient Exercise

Workouts are about time efficiency. As technology rules our lives, we have less and less time to dedicate to exercises. As you know, lack of time is typically the answer people give when faced with the dreaded question, "why don't you exercise more?"

There are a few exercises that I select from that really come with a 'bang for your buck' stamp of approval. These exercises usually derive from compound movements such as squats, rows, deadlifts, presses, and triple extension (both unilateral and bilateral). The bang for your buck additive certified that an exercise meets a certain criteria for being time efficient:

1.) Utilizes more than 1 muscle.
2.) Utilizes natural and functional movement.
3.) Can be loaded.
4.) Can be used as a conditioning exercise based on tempo modification.
5.) Can be performed with minimal equipment. (Ratio is bodyweight/equipment 4:1)

Obviously, the squat is a great exercise to build upon. It utilizes the entire lower body and elicits proper integration with the entire musculature when performed properly. This is why I prefer the squat to row exercise. You have a great lower body movement coupled with a beneficial upper body movement. Why beneficial? Because in a seated-dominate world, where most of us are chained to desks all day staring at computers, the posterior muscles of the upper-body need every little bit of help they can get.

Here's how to set up: Position yourself in front of a FreeMotion cable tower or any other double cable tower with the pulleys positioned at the bottom. Attach D-Handles and choose a weight that is somewhat challenging. Grasp the handles and take a few steps back (roughly about 10-12 inches away from the tower).  Depending on your height and limb lengths, you may have to find the right distance. Keep your arms straight and your bodyweight shifted towards your rear. Pin your shoulders back and keep your chest erect.

Inhale a deep breath and descend into a squat position. Shift your bodyweight back as lower your body. Your arms should remain straight at all times during this portion. If they bend, you are not using the core to translate the body-shifting. It means that the biceps are helping to decelerate and your quads are getting the workload--rather than your hamstrings and glutes. Once you reach  the bottom position (of the squat), explode up-wards and simultaneously "row" the cables to your sides. Exhale the breath forcefully as your rise from the squat position. Keep the elbows close to your body and pull back your shoulder blades. This movement should be explosive, yet controlled with good form. As you explode up, stand with your shoulders depressed, retracted, and chest erected. The glutes should be contracted and abs braced tightly. Descend into another squat and explode upwards into a cable row. Watch the video below.


Reason: I like the SQUAT TO ROW and have actually used it as a "staple" in most of all my client's programs throughout the years. I believe it provides "more bang for your buck" than other movements simply because it is functional, explosive, closed-chain, compound, and utilizes large muscle groups. The SQUAT TO ROW teaches users how to effectively counter-balance their bodyweight when performing a squat, by engaging the hamstrings and glutes. It is a great core exercise because the user needs to brace the abs tight and maintain proper posture throughout the movement. If the core is lost, the user will lose balance (fall forward) or lose explosiveness. Lastly, the exercise can be used for fat loss because it uses many muscle groups, can be used for performance enhancement (rep speed can be manipulated) or can be used for total body coordination training (functional). My clients have ranged from 15 years of age to 77 years--and all have benefited from using this exercise. Give it a try!


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