The “Real” Big 3
Conventional wisdom in regards to overall physical strength would suggest that the squat, bench press, and deadlift, would cover you for life. The compound aspect of these movements engage the majority of skeletal muscle, and have high yield value for true functional strength. My name is Chris Daly and I’m a personal trainer in San Diego. When the question was posed to me about the “best” three exercises to perform for human health, I had to dig deeper. Best is a subjective term based on the metrics of measurement; if we are talking absolute strength, then powerlifting movements reign supreme, but if we are talking longevity and health, some other candidates become viable. Define “health” on your own terms, but I feel that the bigger picture should not only be “strong” but “strong for long”. And your fitness endeavors of your youth, should not impede the health and wellness of your senior years. So, where do we draw the line? How can we identify clearly what is the best “bang for the buck”? I define the categories of overall health and strength as follows:
These categories led me to choose the following three movements in regards to the value they present for strength, conditioning, and restorative qualities.
- The Landmine Clean and Rotational Press
- The Kettlebell Swing
- Blocking punches from people who disagree with this
Landmine Clean and Rotational Press as my primary strength movement because it encompasses many functional principles, can be loaded adequately as a compound movement, and addresses the rotational aspect that is absent in most strength programs. It requires almost every muscle group to work in synchronization, it incorporates a high threshold abdominal recruitment, and encourages proper scapula and shoulder mechanics throughout the full ROM. https://youtu.be/3Id4KC4Fg8k
Kettlebell swing as another crucial movement for the following reasons, it has almost equally valuable application as the deadlift, and squat combined, it engages the entire posterior chain, it has the ability to be used as a conditioning movement as well as a strength exercise. Keeping relevant in the hips, hamstrings, lats, and lower back have never been a detriment to anyone’s health and longevity. And the dynamic aspect of the movement will always maintain the nervous systems ability to contract forcefully, which is widely underrated in regards to overall athletic prowess. https://youtu.be/pZiY-_PjjTs
Walking….Boring right? Considered the old person’s go to movement, is widely the most overlooked exercise on earth. Walking, at its core elements, is a baseline conditioning tool, and a restorative movement. It works as a reset button, and a meditative practice that has immense value. Walking can fix almost anything from high blood pressure, to chronic joint pain. And breeds a habit of true endurance in the aerobic capacity. If I had to bank on some crucial practices that cover all of the elements of health, these three have everyone’s best interest in mind.