I was once asked to pick just three exercises if I could pick any. The point was to see what are the most important movements I value in a Functional Fitness exercise program.
When asked that question, I thought back to some of Pavel Tsatouline’s writings. In his book, Power to the People, he wrote that to maintain total body strength you need only the Deadlift and a press such as the 1 Arm Press. In another of his books, The Naked Warrior, he wrote that in absence of a gym, you can maintain total body strength with merely the Pistol (1 Leg Squat) and a 1 Arm Push-up.
The problem with those answers (other than that they only address strength) is that they are not as transferrable, meaning that they won’t help you with other exercises that we use often.
When I was asked that question, I really wanted to answer it with what are three fundamental exercises central to my program. I wanted to choose exercises that can be built upon. After much deliberation I came to my final answer.
I choose Pull-ups, Push-ups, and Squats. I personally feel that between these three exercises, you can address most of your body and you will cause your muscles to work together nicely. More importantly, these three exercises are great building blocks. Just go to my Exercise Page and look under Pull-up bar for how many exercises we have there.
As far as Push-ups, my latest count was that we have 22 different kinds of Push-ups. As far as Squats, they range from Air Squats, to Pistols, to Cossack Squats, to Siamese Squats, to Thrusters, and beyond.
For those reasons, I have officially declared my top three.
Now think about if you could narrow it down to the 3 most important exercises for you. Don’t do it quickly like I suggest in the title of the post, but seriously consider what are the foundational exercises for you. Let us know.