I thought I’d put together an article of my 10 favourite exercises of 2022 that we are currently programming in the BEFIT workouts…
After being in the gym training clients as well as being in the trenches training myself for so many years, I’ve learned that not every exercise is right for every person, every time they’re training. So rather than focussing too much on which exercises work for everyone at the moment, I thought I’d write a post simply on my favourite exercises of 2022 to program and the reasons why you may see some so much in your workouts.
The Top 10 Exercises of 2022
#1 – NORDIC
Yes, the nordic is my favourite exercise to program for members of BEFIT in the year 2022. I had actually been trying to figure out logistically how to incorporate it into the workouts for a year before we figured out to use the barbell as a counterbalance. I’d be surprised if there was another personal training gym in BC that did the “chinup of the lower body” in a group environment like ours. But I don’t expect this for too long, as I’m just waiting for them all to figure it out… Expect your instagram feeds to be blowing up with this exercise soon if they aren’t already…
The nordic is my favourite exercise right now because it works the hamstring like no other – so it’s great for building muscle. Most importantly though, it’s great for injury prevention with its eccentric component (the lowering phase). It builds explosiveness in the concentric component (the lifting phase), which is great for speed and jumping ability (the people that can jump the highest and run the fastest tend to be really good at nordics).
I just love the nordic because it honestly just shows you where you are at without beating you up or injuring you. If you can’t lower your body under control, you just drop, but you still train the muscle appropriately for where you are at.
But in addition to this, it can be made easier with bands assisting, or the range of motion can be shortened with a medicine ball. The nordic makes you think about your posture a ton, and it’s working on a muscle group that tends to be weak relative to it’s antagonistic muscle (the quads), which get worked in so many other exercises in conventional group fitness training. It’s my favourite exercise right now and it is programmed in STRENGTH every month without exception (rotating monthly between 2x/month on Mondays and Fridays and 1x/month on Wednesdays).
#2 – HIP THRUSTER/HIP EXTENSION
Few exercises offer you the ability to really engage and build the glutes without worrying about beating up your joints. The hip thruster/hip extension accomplishes this. It can also be done with 1 leg which is great for building/assessing symmetry and injury rehab. EKG studies show that this exercise engages the glutes the most relative to other lower body exercises you see in the gym. So if you want to build your glutes this is where you might want to start…
#3 – THRUSTER/SQUAT TO PRESS
Very few movements in the gym works as many muscles in such a full range of motion. And because of this, the thruster will jack up your heart rate like no other – so it’s great for conditioning! But on the flip side, it can also be used for strength training or tempo training. Whatever way we use it, you always feel like you did something when you do thrusters. If I had to choose just 1 exercise to do for the rest of my life and had no injuries or limitations, the thruster would be in the consideration for its ability to train the full body…
#4 – SEATED DUMBBELL EXTERNAL ROTATION
Everyone does pushups and bench press in the gym which puts a ton of stress on the internal rotators of the shoulder which eventually leads to some sort of nagging injury via structural imbalance… This is where the external rotators come in… Sure you can do external rotation with bands but you can’t really quantify it. So how do you know if you’re getting stronger??? I want to quantify things so that we can gauge our improvement in the gym. That’s where the seated dumbbell external rotation comes into play. It will also honestly show you how much range in internal rotation you have pain free while getting stronger in external rotation. If you play baseball or any throwing sport you need this exercise! If you have big pushup or bench goals you need this exercise! If you want to have pain free shoulders you need this exercise! The standard for this for you long term is 10% of your bodyweight for men for 10 reps and 8% of your bodyweight for women for 10 reps @ 3 seconds down.
#5 – POWELL RAISE
The powell raise is another full range of motion shoulder movement training a relatively weaker muscle through its weakest position. If we can get you as strong as possible in the bottom or fully stretched range of motion, we can get your rear deltoids quantifiably stronger and give you a better chance at bulletproofing your body through the bumps, bruises, and body positions of life. The standard for this for you long term is 10% of your bodyweight for men for 10 reps and 8% of your bodyweight for women for 10 reps @ 3 seconds down.
#6 – REAR FOOT ELEVATED SPLIT SQUAT
This can also be used with a rear foot elevated in a trx – which is lightning for the glutes!!! However you elevate it though, the added range of motion heats up the entire leg, as it’s building stability, it’s building symmetry between sides, it’s building quads, it’s building grip strength, it’s improving your conditioning… Just make sure you train your weak side first if you have one!
#7 – DUMBBELL PULLOVER
This exercise done with straight arms is excellent at improving overhead range of motion while working the chest and lats. Your goal long term is 25% for males and 20% for females for 5 reps of your bodyweight with your elbows and hips below your shoulder while lying perpendicular on a bench. The dumbbell pullover is great for improving thoracic spine mobility (which most people need if they are sitting at a desk all day for work), so you know anytime we can get an exercise that improves strength through a full range of motion while improving posture, you know it’s going to be one of my favourites…
#8 – ATG SPLIT SQUAT
Speaking of training through a full range of motion while improving posture, this might be the exercise that does it for the lower body… Also known as the ass to grass split squat. I love this movement as it works the knee through a fuller range of motion than any other exercise! Achieving this full range on the ground is great for long term bulletproofing of the knee. And, if you’re not ready for this compression though, it can be scaled by elevating the front foot on a box – the higher the easier! As an added bonus, it stretches out the hip flexor of the rear leg and won’t actually let you execute the movement on the ground unless your hip flexors are flexible enough! The fact that it shows us symmetry or lack of symmetry and it sets us up to be better at almost every other lower body movement in the gym put the atg split squat in my top 10.
#9 – NEUTRAL GRIP PULLUPS
Yes the classic bodyweight exercise! It still remains one of the best movements to showcase relative strength (relative strength is strength relative to your bodyweight). Because of this the strict pullup is a great indicator of optimal bodyweight! With this in mind, men typically fair better with pullups under 200lbs and women fair better under 150lbs. I prefer the netural grip pullup over all other options as it is better for your elbows and for people who have overhead mobility restrictions. I also like the neutral grip as this is your strongest position for getting the most reps because you know life always doesn’t have to be hard! Although many individuals aren’t ready for pullups, we can still regress with banded movements, scap pullups, or bent knee variations from the ground using a racked barbell.
#10 – DOWNWARD DOG
Yes, I’m putting this mobility exercise in there because all of us need to do it more! A well executed downward dog stretches out the entire posterior fascial line/posterior chain which really moves the needle with your mobility. I like the goal of a 2 min downward dog done daily. You can start with this movement today. I’m going to do one as soon as I finish this blog!
I hope you enjoyed my favourite exercises for 2022. If you have any questions on any of these movements you know where to find my team and I.
See you in the gym!
Committed to your success,
Josh Saunders, BS, CSCS