Many people get bored with too much structure in their weight-training programs, which is not surprising. Life’s movements are often variable and unpredictable, while in the weight room they are static and predictable. Anyone who has ever held a squirming 20-pound baby knows that this is a far different physical challenge than carrying a 20-pound dumbbell.
Our standard lifts are essential. The ability to lift things off the floor—including yourself—and to push objects overhead is never going to dwindle in importance.
In life we don’t just lift things, we move them, too. We lift and carry them, push and pull them, throw them and catch them. And to do these, we are always dealing with gravity and momentum.
Most of our standard weight-lifting exercises involve lifting while directly opposing gravity (e.g., squat, dead lift, shoulder press, pull-up). But in life, we lift, shift and twist the things we hold or ourselves. We move through gravity and thus have to deal with momentum.
If you add some shifting and twisting, your “lifting” program can provide a more complete movement experience and make you “life strong.” Even better, adding these movements to your gym exercises provides a more engaging and interesting experience, which will make it more likely for people to follow through on their exercise plans.
Here are some examples of these types of movements:
Mixed Grip Pull-up With Vertical Leg Kick
With your body perpendicular to a pull-up bar, grip the bar with the palms facing toward each other and slightly staggered. As you begin the pull-up motion, lift the knees and kick the one leg up in the air.
Squat With ViPR Shift
Stand with the ViPR (or other handheld weight) extended out to one side; look at it with your head and eyes turned. As you drive the hips back and down to squat, slide the ViPR across and slightly in front of the body so that it is extended to the other side at the bottom of the motion.
Shifting KB Shoulder Press
Hold a kettlebell upside down by the horn (or hold the sides of a dumbbell) with the weight stacked over one shoulder. Press the weight up and overhead, and lower it to the other shoulder.
Using a barbell or trap bar, pick up the weight from the floor by performing a deadlift. Take a few strides forward, stop and then walk backward to where you started. Lower the weight to the floor and repeat.
Check out this one-minute video to see a demonstration of all four exercises.
You now have a few options to illustrate the concept and to stimulate your creativity. Once you try these variations on traditional lifts, you will likely begin creating your own variations to put a little shift in your lifts.
For more shifting exercise ideas, see these two articles: