If these two exercises are not already in your routine at the gym, then I believe you MUST put these in now. If you’re a gym member, then you probably would have heard me telling anybody that would listen why these two exercises are some of my favourites and why I believe you MUST start doing them. Before I spill the beans on what they are, here’s a brief description of them, and let’s see if you can guess them.
They are both triple extensions. Triple extension is defined as achieving extension of the hip, knee and ankle joint in the same movement. Now you may be asking, ‘Bayley, what does triple extension have to do with anything?’. The fact that these two exercises involve triple extension is one of the main reasons I push people to perform these movements regularly, and here’s why. If you break down movements that we do daily, such as standing up, bending down to pick something up and jumping to name a few, these are all movements that involve triple extension. Suppose we can strengthen our body in the gym with exercises that involve triple extension and mimic movements of daily life as these exercises do. In that case, we are not just improving our daily quality of life by giving our bodies the chance to improve how it functions daily, but subsequently, we are at less risk of injury and can do more of the activities we like to do for longer. In the grand scheme of things, isn’t that what exercising is all about?!
Ok, if you haven’t guessed by now, I will cut the suspense. The two exercises that you MUST include in your gym routine are… squats & deadlifts. Another reason why I love squats and deadlifts and believe everyone should do them is that they are such versatile exercises with many variations that I guarantee will work for anyone. So, there is no excuse. It is just about finding out which variations work if you are starting out or if you’re experienced, which variations you can use to get better. These movements and the different variations associated can target specific muscle groups and are critical movements for most lower body associated injuries. Let me get one thing clear when I say you should start squatting and deadlifting. I do not mean I want you to put on as much weight as possible and try to lift it. I am not promoting lifting heavy to anyone new or just a bit nervous with these movements. I am promoting that gradually (at your own time and aligned with your ability), start incorporating these movements into your routine until you are confident. Then I recommend you start putting some weight on that feels like it is pushing you. For people who are confident and experienced, then go for it! I recommend getting as strong as you can in these movements while remaining cautious. Listen to your body and know the signs where it might not be the safest idea to go heavy. Below I have outlined specific benefits for both sports training and general life, which are in line with an excellent study by Vecchio, Daewould, Green (2018).
Benefits of Squats and Deadlifts
Hip, thigh & calf benefits:
• Hypertrophy of the hip, thigh and calf musculature
• Increases effective mass and functional hypertrophy for contact sports.
• Prevention of sarcopenia in older adults. Assists with chair raising tasks and lowering of heavy items to the floor
Leg & hip benefits:
• Physiological strengthening
• Increased sprint speed & vertical jump performance
• Prevention of dynapenia in older adults. Assistance with chair raising ability, stair climbing function.
• VMO strengthening as part of ACL rehabilitation.
• Lower limb strengthening after knee replacement surgery.
• Decrease the risk of ankle, knee and leg overuse injuries
• Prevention of muscle atrophy prior to surgery. Reduce falls risk.
• Increased core strength
• Significant activation of the abdominals, oblique’s and erector spinae muscles if squat loads are >80% 1RM.
Hopefully, I have been able to convince you into incorporating squats and deadlifts into your gym routine. These exercises don’t just improve our body’s function in general life movements, but there are also some tremendous sport-specific benefits for athletes. While the physical benefits of these exercises are great, I believe the mental benefits are even greater. You will become more confident in the gym and more confident in yourself as you will be pushing yourself to learn something new, and we all know the benefits that come from pushing ourselves and our comfort zones. If you need a little more convincing, please come up to me in the gym or contact me at [email protected].