When it comes to exercise - there are a few bang-for-your-buck exercises that will bullet proof your body and keep it feeling young for the years to come. Until modern medicine figures something better out, it's safe to say these are the closest things to the fountain of youth we currently have.
Here is a list of my top 4 exercises. When added to your program, these can help you build resilient tissues that can withstand whatever you throw their way.
1) Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) - Part of the FRC system, CARs are the best thing since slice bread.
CARs are active, end range circular motions for a joint. The reason why they make your body feel great is three fold.
- Movement is the body's best anti-inflammatory. By constantly moving joints through all available range of motion, we continue to nourish the joint daily.
- It allows us to maintain and expand our range of motion at a joint. By constantly taking our joints through full range of motion, we are able to maintain it. One reason we lose mobility is because we don't spend any time there. By doing CARs, we ensure that our joints are creating maximal movement - through the biggest circles we can possibly make - allowing us to hold onto our range of motion and even possibly expanding it.
- CARs are a self assessment tool. I think this is an extremely valuable aspect of CARs as it allows you to assess every joint in the body. CARs can give you insight into when your joints may start becoming problematic; giving you insight into areas you need to address before pain/dysfunction is present.
2) Turkish Get-Up - This is one of my favorite exercises because it promotes high levels of stability, mobility and strength and it's packaged into one power packed movement.
Here are a few of the benefits that TGU's have to offer according to Brandon Hetzler:
- Promotes upper body stability
- Promotes lower body stability
- Promotes reflexive stability of the trunk and extremities
- Promotes cross lateralization (getting right brain to work with left side)
- Ties the right arm to the left leg, and left arm to the right leg
- Gets the upper extremities working reciprocally (legs, too)
- Stimulates the vestibular system (one of three senses that contributes to balance)
- Stimulates the visual system (second of three senses that contributes to balance)
- Stimulates the proprioception system (third sense that contributes to balance)
- Promotes spatial awareness
- Develops a front/back weight shift
- Develops upper body strength, trunks strength, and hip strength
If you aren't sold yet on why the TGU will keep you feeling young into your 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's and beyond - take a look at this study by Claudio Gil Araujo from Brazil. The study said being able to stand up from a seated position on the ground was remarkably predictive of physical strength, flexibility, coordination at a range of ages.
3) Carries - You have to give an exercise some major thought when Dan John categorizes it as one of the fundamental human movements: push, pull, hinge, squat, loaded carries and the sixth movement.
When loaded properly farmers carries are an excellent exercise for core strengthening. It is an easy to learn exercise that challenges your endurance, strength, stability and grip strength. The ability to carry heavy loads gets our core to create super-stiffness. Dr. Stuart McGill describes this super-stiffness as - the sum of the forces of all the muscles contracting is greater then what any individual muscle can provide. This teaches you to build true strength that will aide you for any endeavor you wish to attempt.
4) KB Swing - This exercise develops power in the hinge position. Why is power important? As you age, power decreases - so swinging consistently can help you maintain a power packed punch as you age - not to mention, allow you to improve your overall performance, strength, and endurance.
What's even better than that? The kettlebell swing is extremely beneficial for your lower back. Having a flying bell not directly attached to your body forces your glutes, lats and core to work hard in order to control the bell. This overall synergy of muscles will help keep your spine strong for years to come, as well as help you rehab from lower back injuries.
Add these four exercises into your programs on a monthly basis and reap the benefits of better strength and performance; all while keeping pain at bay - even as you age.
Move Well, Stay Strong.