Bianca Knight is a former track and field athlete from the United States who competed in the 100 and 200 meters. Knight won a gold medal in the 4100m relay team at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Her “5 exercises that I absolutely love and believe are very beneficial to the body as a whole” are as follows.
Deadlifts in Russia
This exercise can be done single-legged or with a partner to add a challenge.
To carry out:
- Load a barbell and stand shoulder-width apart, feet shoulder-width apart, toes forewarned, and the barbell running over your shoelaces. For newcomers. Maintain a straight torso, straight arms, and shoulder blades that are dropped downwards towards the back. This will allow you to “lock” the back and reduce neck strain.
- Bend down and grab the bar with a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder-width and only a slight bend in the knees. Maintain a flat back and shoulders over the barbell. Once you’ve stood up, return to the above-mentioned vertical torso position.
- Maintain a setback by pushing the hips back. This will cause tension to build up in the hamstrings and across the back (lower and middle, particularly around the shoulder blades), with the torso moving closer to parallel to the floor.
- To stand up, use your glutes and hamstrings to keep the barbell close to your body. If you’re having trouble keeping the barbell close, try engaging your lats (without pulling through the arms).
- Contract the upper back, core, and glutes at the top of the movement by flexing from the middle of the back to the buttocks (glutes).
- While most athletes will stand straight at the top of the movement, avoid overextending and leaning back too far.
- Lower the barbell in the same manner and repeat for 8-10 reps.
The woodchop is a useful but advanced movement that must be learned in three stages.
How to Do It:
- With your left foot forward, take a split stance. Hold a medicine ball in both of your hands, keeping the ball close to your body. Stiffen your torso by contracting your abdominal / core muscles and keeping it vertical to the floor. Without arching your low back, depress and retract your scapulae (pull your shoulder down and back).
- Slowly rotate your arms to the left, to a starting position high and behind you, but do not rotate your head, chest, or torso. Throughout this stage of the exercise, keep your head, chest, and hips facing forward. Maintain a close relationship with the medicine ball.
- Slowly rotate your arms down and across your body to the right, ending with the medicine ball near your right hip (performing a wood chop movement). Keep your head, chest, torso, and hips facing forward, and do not rotate them. Maintain a close relationship with the medicine ball. Hold this final position for a few seconds before returning to your starting position. Rep the movement with your opposite leg forward in the opposite direction.
- Repeat the same movement, but this time extend your arms at the elbow and maintain this arm position throughout the woodchop movements for a greater challenge. This longer lever puts more strain on the spine, forcing the core muscles to work harder.
- By increasing the degree of rotation, you can make this exercise more difficult. Repeat. Throughout this exercise, engage you’re abdominal / core muscles to stabilize and protect your spine.
It’s a popular exercise among athletes because it improves twisting movements and allows you to change direction quickly.
How to Do It:
- Lift your feet off the floor while sitting on your sit bones and keeping your knees bent.
- Create a V shape with your torso and thighs by elongating and straightening your spine at a 45-degree angle from the floor.
- Extend your arms in front of you, interlacing your fingers or clapping your hands together.
- Using your abdominals, twist to the right, then back to the center, and finally to the left.
- This is the first repetition. Perform 2–3 sets of 8–16 repetitions.
Squats with a barbell
A more intense version of squats that require more work from the largest muscles in the body, the glutes.
What to Do:
- Set your feet at hip or shoulder width apart.
- Place the barbell on the trapezius muscles (the meaty part of the shoulders) just above the shoulders.
- Lower into a squat by bending your knees. Stop when your knees are at 90-degree angles or when you lose your natural back arch.
- Contract your glutes and legs while maintaining a strong torso.
- Stand up slowly without locking the knees and repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 repetitions.
- When performing this exercise for the first time, exercise caution. Begin with a light weight that you can easily handle and perfect your form before progressing to heavier barbells.
A useful addition to your training routine that can aid in the development of explosive full-body power and strength.
How to Do It:
- Place a dumbbell between your feet on the floor. Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Roll your shoulders back and down, pulling your shoulder blades down toward your spine (imagine a “proud chest”). Press your hips back while maintaining a long spine—as you hinge at the hips, your head spine, and pelvis should remain aligned. Bend your knees as necessary to reach the dumbbell. Your chest and shoulders should be level with the floor and your back should be straight.
- With one hand, grasp the dumbbell, breathe into your belly, and engage your core. Maintain your long spine position by driving your shoulders down and back. Allow your free arm to hang down by your side.
- Extend your knees, hips, and ankles as you come up, drawing the dumbbell up off the floor and close to your body. Your lower body, not your shoulders, should power the movement. Your feet may or may not rise off the floor for a brief period of time.
- Shrug the weight-bearing shoulder, driving your elbow up and backward. The dumbbell should move in a straight line ahead of you. Consider pulling your entire body under the weight as it rises.
- Turn your elbow under the dumbbell when it reaches its highest point (above shoulder level). As the weight continues to rise, catch it overhead with your arm extended.
- Finish in a quarter-squat position to allow for a safe deceleration. Then, to stand tall, extend your legs. As you squat back down, carefully lower the dumbbell back to the floor to prepare for the next rep.
- 2–3 sets of 3–5 reps are recommended.
“These are just exercises that I feel make me feel more fluid afterward, and they involve my entire body,” Bianca continues.
The Content is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions about a medical condition, always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider.