The vertical jump is a great exercise for developing power when carried out with the intent to jump as high as possible. It requires no equipment but there are a few things to bear in mind to ensure you keep it safe and effective. Really, the vertical jump exercise is for anyone but I would recommend having some basic knowledge and strength during a loaded squat. This will allow you to safely decelerate and control your body positions during landing.
The dip is the king of all upper body pushing strength building exercises in my opinion. It is a similar motion to a bench press and is essentially a much harder pressup. Inherently the dip has a pretty high level of strength for it even to be an option. If you are benching around 80% 9f your bodyweight and pressups just aren't challenging you anymore then it might be time go consider progressing to dips. They are the best assistance exercise you can do to improve strength in the bench and I would argue are a better option altogether if athletic performance is your goal.
The Snatch Deadlift is not only for Olympic Weightlifters, it can be utilised to challenge the back and legs more than a conventional deadlift allowing you to get stronger while lifting lighter loads. That said, if you struggle to get into a good position to deadlift with a normal grip then chances are you are not ready for the Snatch Deadlift. The wider hand position makes it more like a deficit deadlift in terms of positioning as you effectively shorten the arms having them out wide.
The plank is a great exercise for the core when you set up and perform it correctly. It helps teach you to keep tight through your fully body while you start to add in movement through the hips or shoulders which forms the basis of pretty much all resistance training exercises.
Although fairly simple, the plank is easily executed poorly. Check out some of the tips below for getting the most out of the plank. Once you can comfortably do 1 minute per set then it might be time to consider much more advanced options for progression.
The Single Arm Row is my favourite upper body pulling exercise. By having your feet square and 3rd point of contact through your non-working arm, you can create a really stable position to lift heavy weights. It is for everyone, there is only a very low body awareness required to be able to perform this movement safely. You need minimal equipment too, a dumbbell and then something sturdy to lean on and you are good to go. This exercise gets your core working hard to brace and to resist rotation, you will feel it in your oblique’s the next day if you work hard to resist excess rotation. With 3 points of contact for support, you are really able to isolate your big pulling muscles of the back and arms. It will also raise awareness of any side to side deficiencies.
The box jump is a great introductory plyometric and power exercise. It is growing increasingly popular but is often done poorly or with inappropriate and excessive risk. Once you have mastered a bodyweight squat and can control your body through the full range you are able to progress to introductory plyometric like the box jump. The focus should be on controlling the landing before progressing to jumping onto higher boxes. The box jump forces the muscles of the lower body to work together rapidly to develop the force to get you flying into the air. This makes it great for power development, speed of movement and for intermuscular co-ordination (how well your muscles cooperate).
The Bench Press is probably the single exercise that most people who have set foot in a gym have performed. That said, it is often done poorly or without much thought. Read on to find out some key tips and to see if it is something that will benefit you. It doesn’t require a great deal of mobility or pre-requisite strength. If you can lift the bar in a controlled manner for the bench press then you are ready to get started.
The Bent Over Row is a major upper body pulling compound exercise. It’s easily performed with a barbell the muscles in the upper back like the lats and rhomboids as well as the biceps and forearms. As far as skill goes, this row is pretty simply to get to grips with. The toughest part generally for beginners is simply maintaining and holding the bent over position. When this is the limiting factor, I’d use simpler more supported variations of the row while working on the hip hinge position and strength through the hips and back. Requiring minimal equipment, the Bent Over Row is effective in building a strong back that will serve as your solid base for benching from, will help with developing the strength to bang out those chin-ups you have been working on and will generally strengthen those often neglected and dormant postural muscles of the back.
The Barbell Deadlift is undoubtedly one of the best all-round gym exercises however it gets a bad name as we all know someone who has hurt their back doing it! With a bit of know-how or guidance and some attention to detail you can master your technique and keep making safe, low risk strength gains. It gets your full body working in co-ordination to generate really high force outputs. It effectively trains the lower body, particularly the hamstrings and glutes. It gets your core working hard to keep tight and transfer the force you generate from the ground to the bar. You are normally able to use the most amount of weight so there is the potential to create a huge hormonal stimulus and accelerate the rest of your strength work.
The standing overhead strict barbell press is a major upper body pushing pattern that requires a moderate level of skill and stability to perform. I usually start my clients with simpler movements, including the Half Kneeling DB Press but when they can effectively control their core to keep a neutral spine then we can add in the overhead press from standing. With everything under the barbell when it is overhead, your full body is having to work in co-ordination to perform the overhead press. This movement pattern isn’t really used much in daily living and so ends up being the one everyone says they are weak at! Training this will help bring balance to the shoulders while developing solid upper body strength.
Allan Young is a Personal Trainer and coach educator in Glasgow who operates Strength Coach Glasgow and is a 4x Scottish Champion Olympic Weightlifter.