Meet the experts – the three exercises you should be doing

Meet the experts – the three exercises you should be doing

BJ Rule is a Gymbox VPT. He shows us the three key exercises that should be intrinsic to your weekly training schedules.

There are literally thousands of exercises out there but when it comes down to it they are all variants, partitions or combinations of the following basic movements * Squat

* Bend

* Push-up

* Pull-up

* Lunge

* Rotate

* Locomotion/ translation (walking, running, crawling, jumping)

I'm going to take a look at three key bang-for-your-buck exercises that will add balance and athleticism to your programme and performance. These three exercises will take some time to practice and master, but they will definitely be worth it.

Warning: athleticism and coordination are required!

The three exercise are:

  • The cluster (clean into thruster)
  • The ring muscle-up
  • The handstand press-up

The clusterThis is a fantastic exercise which involves picking a barbell up off the floor, pulling it high, receiving / catching it in the rack position at the bottom of a front squat, and standing it up and driving it with the legs and arms into a locked out position overhead. This is one repetition.

The cluster involves a 'pull' from the floor, a ‘squat’ from the receiving of the bar to standing it up and a ‘push’ with the legs and arms to get the bar overhead.

Pre-requisites of this exercise are:

* Barbell front squats

* Barbell press/push press

* Barbell cleans

* Barbell thruster

For strength and power, heavy clusters of 1-6 repetitions should be performed. For hypertrophy and conditioning anything from 6-12 repetitions and even performing clusters for time i.e., 30-60 secs can be brutally effective.

Dumbbells or kettlebells can be used if mobility is lacking for appropriate positions with a barbell. However, it is strongly advised to work on your mobility in order to be able to perform clusters with a barbell to maximise effectiveness.

The strict ring muscle-up

Now we're getting all old school and military on you. This is as simple and basic as it gets.

The strict ring muscle-up is a true test of relative strength – you and your body weight. What's so special about it?

* It develops relative strength

* It’s great for grip, wrist, arm, core and back strength

* It's a ‘pull’ and mechanically is fantastic as it employs bio-mechanically sound scapular/humeral rhythm (shoulder/arm mechanics), plus some rotation in-between.

Hang from the bottom of the rings in a false grip (this is important so that when you transition from pull to push your hands are in the correct position). From this hanging position with your feet off the floor you pull your body upwards towards the rings, transition when your sternum is at the rings to the bottom of a dip position and then press up to the top of a dip position. This is a muscle up.

The prerequisites for the strict muscle-up are that you perform pull-ups and ring dips. A word of warning: your deeps had better be deep otherwise your shoulders won't have the mobility or strength in the required ranges. If you've got pull-ups and deep ring dips, now all you need is the transition. This will be the sticking point for most. It's worth setting the rings chest height when standing and practicing moving from the rings at your sternum to the bottom of the dip and back again many, many times. (3 sets of 10 is recommended of the transition practice).

Note: chalk for your hands and you may want it tape your wrists!

The handstand press-up

This is another old school, gymnastic exercise. Where the rope climb was a pull, this time we're all about the push. The handstand press up is another relative strength (move your own body weight) exercise. It's an awesome exercise, but it's hard for a lot of people to do because of a lack of mobility and strength in an overhead position.

The handstand press up is brilliant for developing shoulders, upper back, chest and triceps. Think of a supercharged standing press and that's pretty much a handstand press up. Pre-requisite for a handstand press-up is shoulder mobility. Stand with your back against a wall, and your heels touching the wall. Start with your hands by your side and your palms touching your thighs. Can you lift your arms up above your head with your elbows straight so that your thumbs can touch the wall? If yes, then fine. If not, then stretch until you can do this! Make sure you are uninjured in your neck, shoulders, elbows and wrists, and that you can kick up against a wall.




If a handstand press up is a little beyond you, regress the movement by standing on a box, bending at the hip, and placing your hands on the ground. Perform a press-up from here, or by performing press-ups from a downward dog yoga pose.

Add clusters, ring muscle-ups and handstands press-ups into your training, and watch your raw strength and athleticism reach new heights.

Try them and let me know how you get on!

Don't be shy, you can drop BJ an email right here