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The Best General Exercise Ever?

One thing that I have realized after 16 plus years as a strength coach, trainer and from years of clinical rehabilitation experience is that people take their exercises very personally.  I recently taught at a tactical strength & conditioning conference and all I can say is WOW.  The most heated discussions are always around what these coaches feel is the best or most effective exercise, and let me tell you they take them personally.

Those of us coaches “in the know” realize that exercise can be a very personal thing both among coaches and avid fitness folks too.  My question when it comes to the “this exercise over that exercise” debate is a simple one.  Maybe it comes from my medical background or my injury reduction focus but here is how I look at an exercise.

1. Is it the right exercise for you? Are you physically able to do it safely, with perfect form?

2. Is it the right day or time?  As an example, the middle of your long week is not the best time for high intensity or heavy weight exercise.

3. Is this exercise being applied properly during your training cycle?  As an example, if you are in a high intensity phase of training, is your chosen exercise correct for the training cycle?

4. IS this exercise going to have good compliance?  Will you actually do it?

5. Will this exercise cause injury?  Rule number 1, do no harm.  Exercise should never cause injury.

One last thought before we dig into the best exercise: Is there an exercise that is safe, builds primal movement patterns, increases flexibility, improves balance, engages the core AND improves tactical physical ability?

I have been personally exercising and studying exercise for over 20 years and I like to think that everything I do myself and that I recommend to my clients is, and has been, evidence based; so while my opinion is at play here, it is an opinion based in science.

The Turkish Get Up (TGU)

Using a kettle bell, better to start lighter and work on you form first, lay on the floor.

a. Holding the KB in your left hand extend your left arm to the ceiling, lock the elbow.  Hold this position for a few seconds until you are comfortable with the shoulder position.

b. Bend your left leg.

c. In one solid movement, keeping the KB absolutely still and pointed up, push down with your right hand and elbow and come up into a sitting up position.  The right leg should stay flat during this move.

d. Sit yourself all the way up keeping the KB up, locked and still.

e. As the picture shows assume a kneeling position, the KB is still locked and rigid.

f. From the half lunge position stand up, keep the KB locked and up.  Hold this position for a few seconds and then reverse the steps to get back down.

4-6 reps each side for 2-3 sets will do the trick.  The TGU is a truly awesome movement after your shift or as a pre-exercise warm up.

The TGU is also a fantastic movement for officers that have let their fitness lag a bit as it accomplishes a lot of goals at one time, like flexibility, balance, core conditioning and more. While there are many good and even some great exercises out there the TGU provides you with a high risk to reward ratio and as a coach it provides us with a great tool to correct a lot of underlying muscular imbalances common to law enforcement.