One of the fundamental, philosophical foundations of my training methodology is simplicity. Simplicity is the cornerstone of many successful areas of life, and regarding fitness, simplicity offers too many benefits to list in this article. The biggest benefit for the average exerciser is that simplicity greatly increases the likelihood that they will stick to a program and therefore experience results. One of the most simple, yet effective exercises for the casual fitness participant is getting up off of the floor.
A cornerstone exercise I use for some clients is the weighted, conventional get-up. The conventional get-up is a static strength building exercise that requires the exerciser to lie on his back and press a weight straight up over his chest in line with his shoulder joint. He proceeds to “get up” off of the ground, keeping his arm locked out, and the weight over his head the entire duration of the movement until he is in a standing position with his arm pointing straight to the ceiling. He completes the exercise by lying back down on the ground while keeping his arm locked out with the weight overhead.
Even in the lightest possible weights, this exercise done the correct way is very strenuous and challenging. The vigorous nature to coordinate standing up from a lying position with a weight overhead can cause trepidation for many; an alternative approach is sometimes needed.
The unconventional approach that works extremely well is the unweighted, unassisted get-up. Simply no rules or movement cues. Lie on your back, and then stand up. Rinse and repeat.
Every exerciser will default to their most natural pattern. Some will sit up, assume a squat like position, and stand up. Others might roll to one side, situate into a fetal position, roll over on all fours, and then lunge up to a standing position. There are many variations in between.
One thing is common in all variations though; this movement uses a large range of local (stabilizers) and global (prime movers) muscles to complete an exercise that effectively challenges all of the core muscles, shoulder joint, hips and legs.
This exercise can be performed anywhere, anytime, without equipment. The get-up can be programmed as a great warm-up or cool-down, or to simply improve cardiorespiratory function and muscular endurance. For example, someone with limited fitness can perform this exercise for a few repetitions, three days per week. The fitness warrior can perform this non-stop up and down torture test for an hour. The get-up can be performed on vacation in the hotel room or during business travel.
GREAT DIAGNOSTIC TOOL
It is also a great diagnostic tool for the trainer. Because there are no rules, the participant has free reign to get up however they choose. Patterns can be observed by watching the exerciser and corrections can be made to strengthen weak body parts.
For example, maybe Joe’s abdominals are weak and therefore he avoids sitting up, but instead rolls over onto his stomach before proceeding to get up off of the floor. For Kate, maybe she continuously rolls onto the same side each repetition and presents a glaring deficiency on the opposite side of her body.
SIMPLE YET EFFECTIVE
Regardless of how this exercise is performed, the simplistic nature of this great exercise is worth overstating. Running can be limited by weather and joint problems. Pushups can be too difficult for those lacking upper body strength. Weight training is limited by equipment needs. However, the get-up leaves the casual exerciser without an excuse. Besides, unless you have severe limitations, who doesn’t need the ability to get-up off of the floor unassisted? This exercise builds great capacity for a necessary movement in life.
When you feel like you don’t have the time to commit to exercise or sense that the latest exercise craze is too hard or complicated, look no further than the unweighted, unassisted get-up. The only limitation is your imagination. This exercise will strengthen your muscles in a range of motions that are needed, will burn calories, increase your heart rate and respiration, and leave you satisfied that you skipped the gym membership altogether. Most importantly, the simplicity with ensure that you stick to exercise for the rest of your life, because you sir, have no excuses!
Ryan Richards has a B.S. from Ohio University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the personal trainer at the Sonnenalp Golf Club and the owner of R2HP, an athlete consulting and personal training company. Richards’ passion comes from overcoming childhood obesity and a T1-L3 spinal fusion. Contact him at www.r2hp.com or 970-401-0720.