Walk into any commercial gym across the country and you will see a number of trainers training at a time. More than not, you will see trainers using crazy movements and exercises, putting people in very complex positions, using equipment like bosu balls and kettlebells, or the like. For most of these trainers the clients they work with are those wishing to lose weight, and to be general, these people will lose weight just by doing something, no matter what it may be. I was thinking about this the other day and actually discussed it with a new client of mine. As exciting and attention getting all of these new pieces of equipment and crazy exercises are, they are just not needed. In my personal opinion, I feel that one can get a lot more out of basic, foundational movements than one would with some of the stuff seen around the country's gyms.
When I say basic and foundational movements I am referring to things such as the squat, deadlift, pushup, pullup, or plank. Each movement is a base. Squatting and deadlifting are not only compound movements that recruit a large amount of muscle, they are also used numerous times in our everyday life. Sitting and standing are forms of the squat. Lifting something at work or even your young child is a form of the deadlift. Just think of your normal day and I guarantee you there is a number of squats and deadlifts involved. As far as the upper body goes, the pushup is a great foundation for building "push" strength and the same goes for the pullup and "pull" strength. As far as our core goes, the plank is the best way to build that stability that we need, instead of doing hundreds of crunches on whatever piece of equipment we can get our hands on.
As I was talking to my client the other day, I was explaining how I tend to stay with these basic lifts and work into some simple variations. If these basic movements can not be performed flawlessly without weight then there is no reason to be adding in different implements and weights. I was also explaining how these basic movements build up strength throughout the body, including our stabilizers and core. I went on explaining the movements and the relevance to fat loss also came up.
In terms of fat loss, each of these movements recruit large amounts of muscle which means more calories are burned. Each exercise recruits the core which means more calories are burned. Each movement also builds muscle throughout the entire body which means more calories are burned. So all in all these movements will burn more calories then some movement which only uses a single muscle group.
When it comes down to it, so much can be achieved from basic movements and lifts. The movements I have talked about here are the foundations of every other movement or exercise seen in the gym. Master these first and get that base strength and then you can jump into some more advanced exercises.