6 Moves For Strength (With an Eye on Longevity)
03/06/2022 | Andrew Tracey
Andrew Tracey is a long time collaborator with Bulldog Gear. A coach, writer and current fitness editor of Men’s Health Magazine, he has been in and around the fitness industry for the past 16 years. Having enjoyed and endured a number of disciplines from endurance racing, to strongman, to Crossfit AT enjoys getting neck deep in the practice just as much as the theory.
Over the last few years, I’ve become fond of the saying ‘lifting weights won’t just add 10 more years to your life, it will improve the quality of the final 20.’ And I truly stand by that phrase; resistance training is the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth.
With that being said, whilst lifting weights may well be a panacea, there are some caveats. It turns out, for maximum longevity how you lift could be just as important as whether or not you do lift.
Metabolically, the training we’re doing every day may be ticking all of the right boxes in warding of sickness (and death), but if we’re beating our joints to a pulp each and every time we train, we may be sacrificing quality of life for quantity of life.
Fear not though, this isn’t going to be an extensive list of movements you should never perform again, lest your limbs perish. In fact, I’m a firm believer that there’s no such thing as a ‘bad’ movement, only bad application. No, what we have here are 6 movements you should consider substituting in, trying for the first time or just implementing more regularly- that won’t just build strength, but will do so with an eye on longevity.
Whether you’re suffering from a few niggling injuries, are feeling the effects of a lifetime of heavy lifting, or just have one eye on the future- there’s something here for you.
Landmine Shoulder Press
‘The landmine creates a ‘semi-fixed’ range of motion, guiding you upwards and forwards, activating the shoulders without forcing them directly overhead and into excess ‘flexion’, ideal for those dealing with niggling shoulder pains or mobility issues.’
With your barbell anchored at one end, lift the loaded end onto your shoulder and step back into a lunge position. Brace your core and create tension through your entire body. Push the barbell away from your shoulder explosively, following the natural arc that the barbell will create .Slowly lower the weight back down to your shoulder. Repeat.
Trap Bar Deadlifts
‘Standing inside of the weight you’re lifting, rather than behind (ala the barbell deadlift), puts your body, especially your lower back, in a much more advantageous position, allowing you to keep you torso upright and use more leg drive- letting you up the weights without upping the injury lift.’
Stand inside your trap bar and hinge down, gripping the handles with a flat back and neutral spine. Squeeze your lats and core then ‘push the ground away’ with your feet, driving through the legs and standing upright. Reverse under control. No trap bar? Use dumbbells.
Gymnastic Ring Push-Ups
‘Moving your bodyweight through space, especially pushing yourself up from the floor, is a skill you never want to lose. The gym rings add instability, building stronger, healthier shoulders and a bigger chest without the excess weight of the bench press’
Assume a strong plank position above a pair gymnastics rings. Turn your hands slightly outwards and actively push down on the rings, separating your shoulder blades. Flex at the elbows slowly lowering your chest towards the ground, keep the rings close to your body. Stop when you feel a stretch through your chest. Press back up under control to the start position, repeat.
‘Unilateral or single leg work is great for loading the legs one at a time, meaning you can use half the load for the same effect, decreasing the stress on the rest of your body and reducing your recovery time. Walking lunges are ideal as they also target the postural muscles of your upper back, as well as your core.’
Standing tall, grab a set of dumbbells and hold them with straight arms by your sides. Keeping your chest up at all times, take a long step forward with one leg, bending your front knee until the back knee touches the ground. Stand up explosively, pause and repeat with the other leg, moving forward.
Chest Supported Rows
‘Rows are absolute game-changers for building your upper back and fostering shoulder longevity. By supporting your chest with a bench you don’t only remove stress from your spine and lower back, avoiding injury- you also eliminate any excess movement ensuring that you’re targeting your lats with tip-top form’
Set an adjustable bench to around 45 degrees or prop a flat bench up with a box. Position yourself face down with your chest on the pad, holding a pair of dumbbells, arms at full reach. Staying tight to the bench, row both dumbbells up towards your hips, pause and slowly lower before repeating.
‘Farmers carries are a safe, practical and functional way to lift some seriously heavy weights- keeping you stronger for longer in everyday life. Research has shown that a powerful grip correlates to longevity, and is a good predictor of overall health and likelihood of serious illness- farmers carries will build your grip in spades.’
Grab a set of heavy dumbbell or pass the strap of a gymnastic ring through a set of weight plates, attach your ring and pull tight. Repeat with another set. Grab the rings or dumbbells, stand tall and brace your core. Purposefully stride forward. At the half way mark, drop your weights, turn around, re-grip and return.
The barbell is the quintessential tool of weight training- perhaps only superseded by the humble dumbbell- but unlike the dumbbell there are a lot of options when it comes to picking the right bar. Let us run you through some of our offerings, so you can make the right decision for your needs.