The Lifts of 2014

One question I like to ask people is “What is your favorite exercise?” You never know what kind of answer you might get. Some people might reply that they really love working out with a Shake Weight (conversation ends there) while others may tell you it’s a toss-up between mixed grip pulls or snatch grip deadlifts. I wish I could say there was a cool psychological theory that I was trying to uncover when asking this question but it’s i'm usually just wondering.  Although you, the reader didn’t ask, the year is coming to a close and I want to tell you about a couple of my favorite exercises that I had the honor to perform a set of this year. It was tough for me to compile this list because I tried a lot of different exercises this year. Some of these exercises are American classics like cheeseburgers (or cheesesteaks) and some of these exercises just sounded fun so I figured I’d bang out a rep or two. So without further ado I bring you 5 fantastic exercises to try before years end. Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

Regardless of the implement used to perform this exercise (barbell, dumbbell, etc.) this is unilateral exercise is a classic and favorite of the masses. This exercise trains a ton of muscle in the lower extremity and even provides some active mobility work for those with shortened and cranky hip flexors. The RFE is also a great choice for athletes whose sports frequently put them in a single leg position (#anytimeyourun).  Additional causes of me falling for this movement is because it’s relatively simple to perform and it can be progressed and regressed in more ways than you can shake a stick at.

Farmers Walk

This is another exercise that has a lot of carryover into athletics including the obvious development of strong legs and hips. The benefits don’t stop there though as this exercise has been shown to add strength to the back, midsection, and grip strength muscles. When performing this exercise focus on taking short rhythmic steps to avoid having the weights bang into your knees or thighs with each step.

Pull Throughs

The effects this exercise has on the hips, glutes, and hamstring make it and its many variations a staple of several effective training programs. Some lifters tend to reach very far through their legs and get into a ton of spinal flexion but I prefer to keep a neutral spine, get a solid hip hinge, and finish with a powerful extension of the hip and knee.


The brettzel, from the moment I learned it became one of my favorite exercises. This exercise has the ability to expose and attack a number of muscle groups that may be tight and cause some movement restrictions. Included in these areas are the thoracic spine, piriformis, quads, hip flexors, and glutes.

Z Press

It wouldn’t be right to finish off this list without an upper body exercise. With that being said I think the Z press is a very underutilized multidimensional vertical pushing movement. The exercise can be performed with a variety of tools like every other exercise featured here minus the brettzel. One thing I really like about the movement is that it is a self-limiting exercise and you aren’t able grind through it with crappy technique. This exercise requires a heavy dose of core stabilization and hamstring strength to remain upright throughout the movement. To make it even more

Go on and utilize these movements to bring you gains in what’s left of 2014.You’ll be setting off the lunk alarm in no time. Also, if you’ve taken the time to read to this point please leave a comment below with your favorite exercise or five because I really really want to know what they are.