Michael Grogan is a Personal Trainer/Movement Coach in Melbourne CBD & Clifton Hill, Australia. He uses a combination of Gymnastic Strength, Advanced Mobility and Barbell Strength & Power exercises to achieve increased levels of performance and body composition with his clients. For more information follow him on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michaelgrogan_movement/ facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelGroganMovement and for enquiries contact [email protected]

A few years ago I started strength training. In my late teens I felt as if I were a King completing my rightful transition into man-hood; ‘pumping iron’ 6 days a week. Aside from the fact I had no real idea of what I was doing at that age, I still felt as though I was getting stronger day by day. I would proudly walk around the gym and show my ‘6 day split program’ off to my friends as I proclaimed that Monday was ‘CHEST and TRIS’ and Wednesday was ‘BACK and BIS’; as if I was some kind of body-builder in the making.

This façade went on for about 12 months until I went through 2 traumatic experiences in quick succession.

The first experience I had was when a friend, who I had been boasting about my program to, invited me to train with him and do a Crossfit inspired workout. Crossfit was still an anomaly at the time and the notion of compound lifting (using multiple muscle groups at once) was not even in my vocabulary. After almost having a heart attack within 3 mins of starting the workout, due to my body being shocked by the intensity of actually training properly, I realised that I was severely lacking in strength-endurance and cardiovascular fitness. The 6-day split program I had been loyally following was out the door quicker than the British economy following their exit from the European Union.

The next day I decided I needed to do something! I was a quivering mess due to the muscle soreness from my first real training session. My other, less ruthless, friend invited me to come join him at yoga. Even though I had now realised my previous 12 months of training was not as great as a thought, surely I would be able to complete a yoga class successfully. Throughout the entire class I resembled a white male attempting to do the robot as my stiff plank of wood, aka my body, plopped and plonked around for 90mins as I could not even get close to touching my toes. Needless to say my 6-day split program had severely diminished my flexibility to a point that I could barely even stretch my muscles correctly without writhing in pain.

Yes, training is not all about leg day, chest and back or even bi’s and tri’s. There are many other components of fitness that need to be challenged in order to form a proper training regime. There’s no point being strong if you cannot move well, and there’s no point being really flexible if you have no strength.

The purpose of this article is to showcase an example of 5 movements that everyone should work towards in order to give you a good spread over the components of fitness.

1. Deadlift

Deadlifts: A great barometer for overall strength

Deadlifts: A great barometer for overall strength

Key Fitness Component = STRENGTH (posterior chain)

Level 1 = 1 x your Bodyweight

Level 2 = 1.5 x your Bodyweight

Level 3 = 2 x your Bodyweight

The Deadlift is one of the great barometers for overall body strength. It is a particularly important as it strengthens your body through its posterior chain – Upper back, lower back, glutes, hamstrings – These muscles are important for sprinting, jumping, posture correction and injury prevention.

“But those levels are ridiculous?”

If you are thinking: “I am no where near those standards” don’t worry – these numbers are something to work towards. When I first started training I was lucky to be able to lift myself out of bed, let alone deadlift my own bodyweight.

If your smashing 2 x your bodyweight in ‘Deaddies’ then make sure you are looking after your other movement standards and not being a ‘one hit wonder’ and only looking after your strength.


2. Standing Pike: Touch Your Palms Flat to Ground with Straight Legs

How low can you go in the Standing Pike?

How low can you go in the Standing Pike?

Key Fitness Component: Flexibility (lower back & hamstrings)

Level 1 = Touch your toes

Level 2 = Touch palms flat to ground

Level 3 = Touch palms flat to ground standing on 20kg bumper plate

The Standing Pike is a winner on all fronts. Having flexibility in this exercise allows you more range of movement to better perform your big lifts but also can prevent you from ever having any back pain that is relatable to tight back/hamstring muscles.

“But seriously who can actually touch their toes after they turn 30?”

Everyone except you buddy – Sort your $hiT out!

Ok that was mildly aggressive, what I mean is there is absolutely no excuse for not looking after your body’s range of motion if you regularly train. It will help all your lifts and prevent you experience pain from training and ward off potential injuries.

And for all those blaming that they can’t touch their toes based their age, please refer to my aggressive reasoning.

3. Run 400m

Runner's lunge and great maintenance exercise for runners

Runner’s lunge and great maintenance exercise for runners

Key Fitness Component: Cardiovascular Fitness

Level 1 = <90 Seconds

Level 2 = <75 Seconds

Level 3 = <60 Seconds

Cardio is not time spent running like a hamster at 10km/h on a treadmill, well not in my books anyway. A 400m sprint is a great way to test you working your cardiovascular system to its maximum capacity!

“Those standards are too quick for me?”

Once again they are something to work towards with programmed training and hard work. 90secs should be quite achievable for anyone who regular trains. 75secs is a good goal and I admit that 60 secs is bloody quick! But hey, the only danger of setting a bar too low is that you achieve it.

4. Chest To Bar Pull Ups

Can you go Chest to Bar on your Pull ups?

Can you go Chest to Bar on your Pull ups?

Key Fitness Component: Bodyweight Strength (Pull)

Level 1 = 1-5 Reps

Level 2 = 10 Reps

Level 3 = 15 Reps

Pull-ups are a great test of strength lifting your own bodyweight. There are many custom variations of pull-ups out there – some good, some that resemble a fish flapping out of water. The only way to standardise this is using the almighty Chest to Bar version. Upper chest must make contact with the bar each rep and arms fully lock at the end of each rep.

“But I cant even do a pull-up!?”

That’s ok – you are still a good person – your first goal is to get pull-up number 1! Once you have that you are away! Just remember to stick to the form – no fish flapping just to get a higher number

5. L-Sit Hold

Legs always locked and core tight in the Ring L-Sit

Legs always locked and core tight in the Ring L-Sit

Key Fitness Component: Bodyweight Strength (Core)

Level 1 = 10-30sec hold

Level 2 = >30sec hold

Level 3 = >1min hold

The L-Sit hold is a great introduction to Gymnastic Strength work. This provides a great base to move into more skill based movements. It’s rough on the core but also requires a certain amount of arm and pec strength. So if your not quite there it means you need to work on your tricep dips and leg raises in order to build up the strength required.

“Why does anyone need to do that though?”

Why do anything? You do not need to do anything in life. The point of the L-Sit is that it is a great challenge and will develop your strength in a different way, they will also will give you those killer ‘singlet arms’.

To Conclude:

Don’t just specialize in one thing! You are more than the guy who can Dead 200kg or the girl who can do the splits. Be the guy who dead’s 200 and also can touch his palms flat to ground or the girl who can do the splits but also can do 5 chest to bar pull ups. This will allow you to be a more well-rounded athlete and one with who is less susceptible to injury and have a better posture. This will put you in a smaller percentile of elite athletes.

I always coach people towards a set of movement standards, which includes some of the ones outlined in this article, that gives people a great scope of the overall fitness components while always having a few favourites that we particularly work towards.

Alright, so who else needs to work on their chins? See you at the bar!

For all those wanting advice on setting their own movement standards get in touch: [email protected]




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Michael is a Human Performance Coach based in Melbourne, Australia creating high performance human machines since 2009. Michael believes in building physical performance using gymnastic strength, advanced mobility and barbell strength & power. Building mental performance through constant challenge, goal setting and skill based activities. Building lifestyle performance through discipline and mental drive.