Smart ways to tweak five fun­da­men­tal ex­er­cises to en­hance your train­ing pro­gram

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Kat Mil­lar

If you’ve been ex­er­cis­ing for a while and notic­ing that you’re get­ting a bit stagnant with your re­sults, it may be time to mix things up. When it comes to re­sis­tance train­ing and max­i­miz­ing fit­ness re­sults, one of the most im­por­tant things to re­mem­ber is the law of pro­gres­sive over­load. This is the grad­ual in­crease of stress placed upon the body dur­ing ex­er­cise. You can ma­nip­u­late a num­ber of vari­ables to pro­vide an ‘over­load’ which is sim­ply a new stim­u­lus to chal­lenge the body.

For the best re­sults in in­creas­ing your mus­cle and strength there are 5 fun­da­men­tal ex­er­cises be­low as well as some tips and tricks for each one. If you’re not do­ing these move­ments al­ready, please seek pro­fes­sional ad­vice be­fore per­form­ing any of these ex­er­cises. For best re­sults and to re­duce risk of in­jury, al­ways have an ex­er­cise pro­fes­sional ad­vise safety rec­om­men­da­tions and check your tech­nique.


Squats are what are known as ‘big bang’

fun­da­men­tal ex­er­cises. They are fan­tas­tic for strength­en­ing and shap­ing your legs. They are also big calo­rie-burn­ers be­cause of the amount of mus­cle used in per­form­ing them.

Tech­nique Tips:

When you’re squat­ting, make sure you keep your weight on the heels of your feet. As you lower your body and come back up, keep your chest high and your back straight.

Vari­a­tions: gob­let squat, front squat, sumo squats, sin­gle-leg squats, over-head squats, pis­tol squats.


I highly rec­om­mend that you reg­u­larly in­clude lunges in your train­ing pro­gram if you want to im­prove the shape and/or the strength of your legs. I used to hate lunges, but the more I did them, the bet­ter I got at them and the firmer my legs be­came. They are worth it!

Vari­a­tions are end­less: ex­per­i­ment with al­ter­na­tive foot an­gles to tar­get dif­fer­ent parts of your thighs – such as cross-over lunges (also known as glute med lunges) and 45 de­gree wide-leg lunges (for your in­ner thighs).


The dead­lift is the king of re­sis­tance ex­er­cises. It works more mus­cle groups than al­most any other re­sis­tance ex­er­cise. It’s a big calo­rie burner.

If you haven’t per­formed them be­fore, seek pro­fes­sional ad­vice to help you with your tech­nique. Cor­rect form is a must. The dead­lift is a ‘bend’ move­ment pat­tern. A re­gres­sion of the dead­lift is the 45-de­gree ro­man chair ma­chine which helps get you stronger to per­form the dead­lift – par­tic­u­larly with strength­en­ing the mus­cles in your lower back.

Tech­nique tips:

As you lower down, lead with your chest. ‘Gather’ your glutes at the bot­tom of the move­ment and use them to lift your­self. Imag­ine a band around your knees that you’re push­ing against as you come up. Also imag­ine ‘peel­ing’ your­self up.

Other tweaks:

If your flex­i­bil­ity al­lows, try per­form­ing the move­ment stand­ing on 2 boxes or steps and low­er­ing your body in be­tween hold­ing heavy dumb­bells or ket­tle­bells for vari­a­tion and to go deeper.

If leg strength or mus­cle is a goal, squats should be in­cluded in ev­ery pro­gram.

Lunges are a highly func­tional ex­er­cise and gen­er­ally in­cor­po­rate more sta­bil­is­ing mus­cles than squats.

Warn­ing – dead­lifts are an ad­vanced ex­er­cise. They need to be pro­gressed up to.


Press ex­er­cises in­clude chest, shoul­ders and tri­ceps move­ments. Push-ups are a closed­chain press ex­er­cise, which utilise more mus­cles. If you get the right in­ten­sity, they are big calo­rie burn­ers that also in­cor­po­rate your core and sta­bi­liz­ing mus­cles.

Vari­a­tions: vary your an­gles be­tween flat, in­cline and de­cline. Also vary the equip­ment you per­form the move­ments with – bench, Swiss ball, ca­ble, dumb­bells, bar­bells etc.


Be­cause of the amount of for­ward-move­ment in our lives, many peo­ple need to do more pull ex­er­cises. Pull ex­er­cises are ex­cel­lent for im­prov­ing your pos­ture and re­duc­ing risk of in­jury from mus­cle im­bal­ance.

Tech­nique tips:

I rec­om­mend you con­sider a 2:1 ra­tio of pull to push ex­er­cises. In­clude at least one ver­ti­cal (e.g. chin up) and one hor­i­zon­tal (e.g. ben­tover row) pull move­ment in your train­ing pro­gram.

By in­clud­ing or tweak­ing these 5 ex­er­cises, you will en­hance your train­ing pro­gram and it could re­ally help take your re­sults to the next level. Go ahead, give them a try. Just re­mem­ber to lis­ten to your body and have ad­e­quate re­cov­ery and nutri­tion af­ter­wards.

Kat Mil­lar works with peo­ple glob­ally to im­prove their health, con­fi­dence and en­ergy. Since 2003, through her coach­ing, train­ing, on­line pro­grams and sem­i­nars, Kat has helped al­most a thou­sand peo­ple to achieve their goals. Kat is an award-win­ning fig­ure com­peti­tor, fit­ness lec­turer and NLP prac­ti­tioner and has a pas­sion for nutri­tion and be­havioural psy­chol­ogy. Kat of­fers a range of pro­grams for to­tal body trans­for­ma­tion and can be con­tacted through her web­site or her Face­book page.

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