The Whole9 5 Exercises Series

April 26, 2012 — 14 Comments

The Whole9 have put together an awesome 3 part series (READ THEM! 1, 2, 3) where prominent Strength & Conditioning Professionals answered the question “If you could only do 5 exercises for the rest of your life, what would they be?” Assuming your goals are general health, fitness and longevity, and not a specialized sport.  The answers were really cool, and the overlap in answers is easy to see-but I’m going to make it even easier for you below.  You’ll also notice that almost all of us who contributed to the article “cheated”….especially Dallas (it was on his site!)….we picked exercises that weren’t just one movement, we picked things that were more complicated, or we said things like “derivatives” or “variations”, and that’s because 5 isn’t a realistic thing to do for the rest of your life.  I have a post coming up on why the “less is more” idea may not be best for everyone (especially those looking for “performance”), which is sure to cause contention and discussion.  Now, on to the analysis.

Here are the raw numbers, from most to least. There were 12 experts, so a total of 60 possible exercises.  According to this, squatting is king…but we sorta knew that already, right?

Squat 7 (Overhead 2, Front 2, Goblet 1, “all” 2)

Deadlift 5

Turkish Getup 4, Pullup/Chin 4, Clean and Push Press/Jerk 4 (2 power clean, 2 full clean)

Lunge 3, Sprints 3, 1 Arm Row 3 (on trx, bent over, any)

Pushup/Plan 2, Crawling 2, Airdyne 2, Rotation/Anti Rotation 2

1 mention: Dips, Walking, Swim, 1 arm press, mobility drill from Cressey, broad jump, running, step ups, man makers

Now that we have that, let’s organize these into push, pull, hip dominant, knee dominant, single leg stance, rotational, and “core”.  This gets tricky because the complex exercises can fit into more than one category, so they can count for more than one in this section.

Push 10 (includes: presses, pushes, & crawling also)

Pull 18 (includes: DL’s, swings, cleans, pulls)

Hip Dom 8 (includes: dl’s, swings, cleans, I didn’t include the single leg stuff)

Knee Dom 7 (includes: squats, (I didn’t include the single leg stuff)

1-Leg Exercise 12 (includes: lunges, TGUs, step up, sprinting)

Rotational/Anti Rotational 15 (includes: general ro/antiro, carries, crawls, 1 arm row/press)

“Core” all of them!  The only direct core work assigned were 2 planks, and 2 specific anti rotation-however, the complex exercises chosen will handle the core.

So, looking at this we have 9:5 pull:push, 4:5 unilateral lower:bilateral lower, & a ton of ro/antiro work recommended.  So take a look at your program, and if it is missing this type of set up, understand why you aren’t quite as awesome as you’d like to be.

Next, I’m going to provide a week routine utilizing the info above, and suggest how you could incorporate this.  Now, I’m not picking 5 exercises, I already did that….I’m taking all the info from above and mashing it together in a bad ass routine, that would be great for health and wellness, and also performance (will note performance additions).  Adjust the sets & reps to fit your own personal goals and abilities, this is likely how I’d do mine, since I don’t like really high volume for my own body.  Additionally, if you can do a morning walk of 20-60 minutes while drinking coffee/tea before breakfast..please do it as often as possible-and go to http://www.mobilitywod.com/ and DO IT.

**Please please please, if any of these exercises hurt or you can’t do well, sub an easier version that you can do! **

General warm up each day (this is a tough workout load-but it’s only 3 days. the warmup alone is hard :

3 paired sets of crawling and the cressey mobility drill linked above

3 paired sets of multi directional lunges and 1 arm row variety (partial to the trx version from Dan John)

5 circuited sets of TGU on each side, 10 goblet squats & 10 swings (for added “fun”, add a press in every position in the final set of the TGU)

Monday:

5×3 Heavy Front Squats and weighted pull-ups (you’ll own the rack for a while)

8×2 Clean & Press (barbell or KB-do what you’re good at or learn the other)

1 set max rep pushups

Carry sequence: single sided 20 yard waiter walk, 20 yard rack walk, 20 yard farmers walk, same hand without putting weight down.  Do 3 sets per side.  (extra tough “performance” addition, add 5 reps of 1 arm presses before the waiter walk, 5 reps of squats before the rack walk, and 5 suitcase deadlifts before the farmer carry)

airdyne or rowing machine for 15 minutes, only breathing in and out of the nose

Tuesday:

go for a walk or a swim, and do some unweighted TGU’s and the Cressey Mobility Drill.  (“performance” add-on: hill sprints)

Wednesday:

5×3 Deadlift and single arm OH Press

3×8 Weighted chins and farmer hold step ups

10-20 single broad jumps (depending on knees and landing ability, otherwise sub heavy swings), (“performance” sub 5 sets of triple broad jumps)

sled/sandbag pushes or drags about 5 difficult sets. (“performance” add-on: hand over hand sled drags, this is a horizontal 1 arm pull, start at the end of the rope and pull the sled til its at you, do it about 3 sets per arm–or you can do the plank row)

air dyne, run or rowing machine for 15 minutes, only breathing in and out of the nose

Thursday:

go for a walk or a swim, and do some unweighted TGU’s and the Cressey Mobility Drill.  (“performance” add-on: hill sprints, do either tues or thurs, probably not both!)

Friday:

3×10 Over head squat and pullups (pullups do 1/2 of your estimated max reps)

8×2 Clean and Push Press/Jerk

1 set max out pull-up and immediately follow with max out pushups

Carry sequence: single sided 20 yard waiter walk, 20 yard rack walk, 20 yard farmers walk, same hand without putting weight down.  Do 3 sets per side.  (extra tough “performance” addition, add 5 reps of 1 arm presses before the waiter walk, 5 reps of squats before the rack walk, and 5 suitcase deadlifts before the farmer carry)

air dyne, run or rowing machine for 15 minutes, only breathing in and out of the nose

Saturday:

go for a walk or a swim, and do some unweighted TGU’s and the Cressey Mobility Drill.  (“performance” add-on: hill sprints, do either tues or thurs, probably not both!)

Sunday:

RELAX. Maybe eat some delicious ice cream.

**Again, don’t do things poorly, or that hurt!  Find a trainer that can teach you, and if you’re in San Diego…that could be me, check out the contact info**

14 responses to The Whole9 5 Exercises Series

  1. 

    Clifton, thanks for this post. Great idea to make a mac daddy conglomerate of the Whole 9 responses.

    Wondering about the walk + coffee/tea in morning. I can think of a few reasons, but perhaps they’re not what you’re getting at. Why are you suggesting this?

    • 

      The walk in the morning is just nice to do, get your thoughts together, start your day, almost meditation like. The coffee/tea is caffeine and supports fat burning, as does walking, especially in the fasted state….now, it’s not going to turn you into a ripped/shredded bro….but it’s not gonna hurt either.

  2. 

    I thought Caffeine was bad for you?

    • 

      Bad for some perhaps…fine for others. Don’t abuse it…it’s too complicated for a brief reply really…but 1 cup of coffee with a walk, shouldn’t be a big deal. And green tea REALLY shouldn’t be a big deal.

  3. 

    I appreciate this summary, as I’m working on a new workout routine for myself. Thank you.

    Regarding coffee: A just-published study in a major medical journal (New England Journal of Med?) linked regular coffee consumption with lower risk of death. Even as much as five cups a day.

    -Steve

  4. 

    You have front squats both Mon and Fri? No back squats to compliment these?

    • 

      Back squats are fantastic….however, I think front squats offer more per rep of full body development. Not from a loading standpoint or hypertrophy standpoint…but from a whole body standpoint.

  5. 

    Is your format (number of sets) x (number of reps) ? Interesting to see so many low volume sets

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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