It’s that time of year where more and more people are hitting the gym.  With only so many free hours in the day, make sure you are getting the most out of each trip.  Here are the top 5 things you should be taking advantage of when you go.

1. Dumbbells

Dumbbells should be the most used piece of equipment in your workout programs.  For upper body work, it is favorable to use dumbbells at least twice as often as barbells.  This ensures proper balance between each side of the body as well as improved shoulder stability.  For lower body training dumbbells can be used for many of the most bang for your buck exercises like lunges, split squats, step-ups, and deadlift variations.  Don’t be intimidated by these exercises because there is a level of all of them you can perform properly.

 2. The Deadlift Platform

Sometimes this is hard to find at your “club” gyms.  Deadlifts are the most complete exercise you can perform.  Because of the vast amount of muscles involved, it is a high calorie burner, muscle builder, and a key component to almost every strength quality for sport and performance.  Don’t be mistaken by the people who say you shouldn’t deadlift or squat because you have a bad back, old knees, or just a sheer lack of testicular fortitude.  If you structural have problems, find a PICP coach to get them sorted so you can be squatting and deadlifting impressive weights pain free.

 3. The Leg Curl

Almost everyone in the US is quad dominant and has neglected hamstrings.  Training the hamstrings with knee flexion exercises like the leg curl improves knee stability, posterior chain integrity, and improves performance in your big lifts like squats and deadlifts.  ACL tears that a rampant in NCAA sports especially for women are largely due to weak VMO’s and poor hamstring strength.  Do leg curls to prevent injuries and improve your big lifts.

 4. The Pull Up Bar

Chin ups and pull ups are the King of upper back exercise.  We are be design climbers, with levers made for pulling.  Sadly most people shy away from pull-ups and spend more time doing the exercises where they can stand 12 inches away from the mirror.  Developing strength in the pull up not only makes for an amazing set of back muscles, but increases shoulder integrity and is one of the best ab exercises you can perform.  If you can’t do a single pull-up follow this guide.

Use an pulldown machine until you can reach 50% your bodyweight for a set of 4-6, then switch to an assisted pull up machine until you are doing 75% of your bodyweight for 4-6 reps, then follow the Poliquin program to achieving pull-ups.  If your bodyweight is the main factor keeping you from achieving a pull-up, find a BioSignature practitioner to help you drop your bodyfat in record time.

 5. The Squat Rack

If your are thinking this should have been higher than 5, here is why it’s not.  You have to earn the right to squat.  A proper squat requires flexibility to achieve full depth without losing form.  This means thighs resting on your calves at the bottom and a flat back.  There are over 50 variations of the squat.  Odds are that you should have at least one of them in your workout program if you can perform a proper squat. At the least every other program (alternating with deadlifts)   Squats are the ultimate leg builder and full squats improve 17 points of knee stability.  Squats and deadlifts are also great core exercises even though people think of them as leg exercises.  This makes them excellent for spinal integrity and all the abdominals.  While bad form squats and deadlifts can lead to back injuries, good form squats and deadlifts can prevent and even rehab them.

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