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Exercise Selection: A Quick Guide

September 28, 2018


exercise selection

A Quick Guide To Exercise Selection – What Lifts Should I Be Doing?

If you’re not doing the right lifts, your fitness and weightlifting program will not be as beneficial as it could be – even if you put your best efforts into it.

So, how can you make sure you’re choosing the right lifts? Follow this guide, and learn about 5 quick tips for exercise selection.

1. Consider The Limit Factor

A lift is always the best if the muscle it’s targeting is the limiting factor for the lift. In other words, you should be choosing exercises where the strength of primary targeted muscles is what is limiting you from lifting a heavier weight.

For example, you won’t be able to deadlift effectively without proper grip strength. Your grip will always fail before the rest of your muscles – so it’s an ineffective way to train your lower body, until your grip strength catches up. You may want to perform a different lower body and back exercise, until you can train your grip to catch up to the rest of your body.

This will ensure that you choose lifts that are appropriate for your current strength and experience level, and avoid injury.

2. Compound Is Always Better

As a rule, a compound lift (a lift that uses more than one group of muscles, including stabilizers) is always better than an isolation lift.

Let’s take the bench press, as an example. It trains your triceps and pecs, as well as your back and your biceps, to a smaller extent. That means you can train all of these groups at once, with a single lift. You’ll also be able to strengthen your tendons and joints more effectively.

If you trained each one of these muscle groups individually, your workouts would take much longer, and you are at a much higher risk of developing muscular imbalances that could cause poor results and even injuries.

3. Aim For A High Range Of Motion

If you can do a full range-of-motion (ROM) squat with 155lbs, or a partial ROM squat with 200lbs, which should you do?

A full ROM squat – even if the weight is lighter. Increasing your range of motion for your compound lifts helps you train more effectively, and maintain proper form. In all of your lifts, you should focus on maximizing your ROM – from benching, to deadlifting, squatting, pull-ups, rows, overhead presses – you get the idea.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can just lift heavier weights and reduce your ROM. It’s always better to start lighter and maximize your ROM, as this teaches you proper form, and helps strengthen all of your muscles more effectively.

4. Avoid Small Muscle Isolation

Smaller muscles like the abs and arms are really not important when it comes to your overall fitness. You can train these muscles effectively by simply performing basic compound exercises like shoulder presses, benches, squats, and deadlifts.

You can add in a few accessory lifts if you want, but your primary goal and focus should always be to increase your compound lifts. This is the best way to add muscle and gain strength.

5. Focus On Form Before Weight

We’ve said it once, we’ll say it a hundred times. Don’t try to lift more than you can handle, particularly if your form is not perfect, or you don’t have a full range of motion with your selected weight.

Form is king. Form is everything. With improper form, you will hurt yourself. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow – but at some point, you will become injured, and it will be because you focused on weight over form. Don’t do this.

Follow These Tips For Proper Exercise Selection At The Gym!

If you follow these exercise selection tips, you’ll be able to develop a program that focuses on form, compound lifts, and working your largest muscles groups in unison – which will result in better fitness results!


exercise selection


Trainer: Victoria Hartt

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