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'If it's important, do it every day. If it's not important, don't do it at all.' - Dan John
Most of us will train several moves every time we go to the gym. If you do a basic strength workout you'll probably do a push, a pull, squats and some core work, plus some mobility and cardio drills. If you use a bodybuilder-style body part split, you probably still approach that body part from multiple angles - rare is the person who, on shoulder day, goes to the gym, does dumbbell flyes, and goes home.
Yet, in a way, we all could do with doing just that.
Everyone knows that you do best what you do most.
So doesn't it make sense that we look at our training, figure out where our weaknesses lie and address them?
There's a really simple way to do this - it's so simple you haven't thought of it. But it works.
Emphasize a single movement to the exclusion of all others and you're going to push your training in an unbalanced direction. That's clear. But pushing your training in the direction of being more balanced might mean doubling up on certain moves.
Think about it this way: Your training is almost certainly unbalanced already.
If you're a guy, I'll bet right now you do more upper body pushing work than you need to, and more specialized arm work than you should. Just because you're not Mr. Bench Press, just because you take your squats like bitter medicine because you know you should, doesn't mean you don't approach your presses with more enthusiasm than other exercises. You do them first, when you're fresh, and you do them hardest. If anything gets cut, it's not pressing.
If you're a woman, I'd bet that you do a lot of core work and plenty of 'toning.' Even if you're not falling prey to the excesses associated with your gender you're probably already emphasizing whichever movements you like at the expense of the ones you don't. Time to address that.
It should be possible to take yourself to the exercise doctor and get a prescription. Today, that's you: hello, Dr. Reader. Dr. Reader will see you now.
What are you weakest in? If you're the kind of person who keeps a journal and knows your numbers, just look at them. If you squat what you press, I think you know what the prescription is. If you're going more by feel, then assess what moves feel weak to you.
If you've taken a look at your training and figured out what your weakness is, it's now time to select a movement that addresses that weakness. If you have a weak upper back you might want to pick face pulls or Kroc rows (heavy one-arm rows); a weak lower back, you might want to select stiff-legged deadlifts. The point is, you want a movement that's gross enough - big and simple enough - that you can hope to see some transferable strength improvement. I have the greatest respect for good physios and I think rehab and prehab exercises are a smart idea but that's not what we're talking about here. This is about addressing strength imbalances.
If you honestly don't think you have any imbalances, maybe you can still get something out of this article, though (after all, you've read this far!). Try looking at what you'd like to get better at, and prescribe yourself an exercise that fits the bill.
Personally, I think front squats are an excellent choice for many people since they improve mechanoreception, general back strength, pelvic stability, posture and squatting strength at the same time. If you're working on something else, just keep Dr. Reader's prescription handy and insert your exercise in place of mine!