What’s the best exercise for……?

Paris talks about – What’s the best exercise for ………?

Working with elite athletes, over the years, I’ve been asked that one a lot. Best for shoulder stability, best for core strength, best for hip mobility, best for knee pain, neck pain, etc etc.

The genuine answer is – ‘The one that’s right for that individual’.

Let me explain more…

On youtube and social media it’s all too easy to find a hundred different ‘core’ or ‘shoulder’ exercises or the latest ‘killer abs routine’ with just a few minutes surfing. It’s easy to see how naive and inexperienced PT’s, strength coaches and members of the public just download and copy what’s presented, thinking that they are on to a winner.

Seriously, I have come across well paid S&C coaches at professional sports clubs who do little more than download programs or watch new exercises on the net every couple of weeks then go and deliver them to the team.

So what, that’s not so bad is it?

Yes, it really is a bad idea. If all we ever needed to do was get generic exercises off the net, everyone would be an Olympic champ, nobody would ever get injured and there would be no need for coaches, for anything!

The whole point of being ‘coached’ with movement is to ensure that you are able to perform the move with control, efficiency and in a way which optimises your individual physical development and suppresses ‘compensatory’ tactics that lead to inefficiency, restriction and injury.

Every movement serves as a ‘screen’ in itself. The way someone performs the move tells an experienced coach where weakness, mobility restriction or instability already exists.

Give someone a move that’s too high a challenge and all you do is cause the compensatory patterns to get worse and their athletic development goes backwards not forwards. Give them a challenge that’s too easy and development stalls.

For example, consider a standard 2 handed KB swing.

KB too heavy = excessive upper traps activation. Result = shoulder and neck mobility restriction due to chronic overactivity, leading to injury and pain. Here’s an example in action;

KB too light = not using ‘hip hinge’ to initiate swing so KB lifted with arms. Result = posterior chain development is minimal, instead, anterior deltoids get a workout and that’s not the point of a KB swing.

The take home message here is that you need to fit the right exercise with the right person. We all have specific strengths and weaknesses and those need to be factored into any serious physical development program or you could just make things a whole lot worse, with serious injury and dysfunction being your result, rather than the gains you wanted.

. Stay away from ‘internet’ programs.
. Think movement, not muscle.
. Get proper movement screening from an experienced coach.
. Start with correcting foundational restrictions and weaknesses.
. Build good quality of movement on an authentic base.



SuperMonkeySystem opportunities this Autumn

Hello we are excited to bring you 2 new opportunities to join us this Autumn. We are running our 6 week intro to SMS fundamentals in Plymouth hosted by Macmillan Martial Arts starting Thurs 14th Sept 7-8pm. Cost is £60. You need to book in advance this time so get in touch through our contact page, email or social media.

We are also pleased to be working in partnership with Dance in Devon to run a one day workshop in Dartington Nov 19th 10.30-3.30pm £60 (£50). We have 3 bursary places for local dancers/movers so get in touch with Dance in Devon to apply administrator@danceindevon.org.uk by 20th Oct. We have an Early Bird offer with a deadline of the same date too.