The #1 Exercise that You Absolutely Must be Doing

By Mitch Davis

I hate extremes, and that includes comments. I try to avoid absolute certainty as I am one to believe that there is far more nuance when it comes to exercise than most coaches are willing to admit. However, just this once, I will live in one-hundred percent, absolute, unwavering confidence in my certainty. 

There is one exercise that reigns above all others. If this exercise is absent in your training regime, you are missing out on all of its benefits. Coaches and trainers can spend all of their time arguing about what is the greatest exercise of all time, but I can assure you, none stack up to this single, greatest exercise known to man.

That exercise is… whatever movement(s) you enjoy the most. As most coaches will spend time arguing over the direct line of pull for a lat-pulldown or the biomechanical benefits of a front squat versus a back squat, we can be assured that none of that actually matters for health and longevity. In fact, for many folks, that stuff doesn’t even matter for sports performance. What does matter? Consistency. How can we increase consistency? Enjoyment.

If you absolutely hate the back squat, stop listening to coaches who are telling you that you’re somehow missing out on the secret elixir to health and wellness. Find something that you love and start there. Now, this doesn’t mean to completely avoid a particular muscle group, such as the college gym bro who is built like a Dorito as he hits upper body six days a week and conveniently “forgets” to train legs.

But when it comes to the superiority of exercises, I believe sports physiologists have made a mountain out of an ant hill. With 40% of adults and 20% of children being obese, isn’t it time we focus less on what and more so on simply that? I don’t care what you’re doing, I just care that you’re doing.

For those of you who still have their lululemon’s in a bunch, I can assure you that humans generally come around. The client who hates training legs won’t always hate training legs. But to force him into a heavy back squat routine when he has some previously held beliefs is simply placing a barrier in front of him that he doesn’t need. Instead, coaches should facilitate a healthy relationship with exercise through finding exercises and modalities that the individual is eager about.

If you want to stick around the weight room for a long time, it might be time to stop worrying about the biomechanical efficiency, the power output, and the hypertrophic benefits of a given exercise, and start searching for the enjoyment of it all.

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Mitchell Davis is the Director of Remote Coaching at Power Train Sports & Fitness.  He is a PhD candidate at Liberty University where he is pursuing his doctorate in Health & Exercise Science.  He has been a coach and educator for 13 years, serving in roles such as collegiate strength and conditioning coach, high school strength and conditioning coach, adjunct professor, personal trainer, and fitness consultant.  

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