What’s the best exercise for…

Over the years I’ve received a lot of questions worded something like “What’s the best exercise I can do to improve speed (or power, or lower body strength, etc.)”. The allure of the “best exercise” also appears in mainstream media, where we regularly see articles with titles that start with “Top 10 exercises for…”

There are two different ways to approach training program design when it comes to exercise selection:

  1. Start with the exercise: Build the program based on pre-determined exercise progressions (e.g. double-leg variation, progress to static single-leg, progress to dynamic single-leg)
  2. Start with the intended outcome: Identify a desired training goal, then determine the exercise ALONG with the loading parameters to achieve that specific goal

The reality is that exercise selection alone does not drive the training adaptation, all of the loading parameters do. These include sets, reps, load, tempo, intended speed of movement, actual speed of movement, and rest.

The table above demonstrates how a single exercise can be manipulated to produce significantly different outcomes.

Main take-home: Start with the goal, and reverse engineer from there.

Feel free to post any comments/questions below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. For more information on in- and off-season program design, training and reconditioning for injured players, and integrating sports science into a comprehensive training process, check out Optimizing Adaptation & Performance

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