Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
14 Jan

Bloggers and Strength Coaches Tell Their 3 Favorite Exercises

Last week I was approached by Gym Junkies to be part of an article in which I and other health and fitness bloggers describe their top 3 favorite exercises with a little reasoning behind each of them.

Here are my current top 3 favorites:

1. Barefoot beach sprints. I ran 80-100 miles a week for years, but I feel more like a true runner just doing one set of these each week (and no other running except when I “play“). Nothing beats the flat, hard sand at low tide with the sun just coming up to make me feel connected to everything. Speed, baby.

2. Wide grip pull-up marathon. I love seeing how many of these pups I can do in 10 minutes. Works not only most of the back, shoulders, biceps, and forearms, but ultimately works abs really well, too. If you are short on time, a couple of sets of these are all you need.

3. Inverted push-ups. I started doing these to rehab my shoulder and found I liked them better than regular push-ups. I usually do them with my feet on a bench (don’t tell the gym owner) or up a few flights of stairs. It’s a good way to transition to handstand push-ups.

To read the top 3 favorites of Andrew Rubalcava of, Carla Birnberg of, Israel of and 7 others check out the full post:

Top Bloggers and Strength Coaches Spill Their 3 Favorite Exercises

Please share your favorite exercises in the comment boards!

Further Reading:

My Beach Sprints (Video)

2 Minute Salad Video with Caloric Breakdown

Low-Carb Diet Talk on Fox News

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Clean and jerk/press has to be my favourite. Along the lines of your rationale for wide-grip pull-ups, I love this execise because you can pretty much work your whole body with a few short sets. Job done.

    Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later wrote on January 14th, 2009
  2. Mark, try doing inverted push ups with your feet up on a big exercise ball. It works great.. you have to stabilize yourself at the same time.

    The SoG

    Son of Grok wrote on January 14th, 2009
  3. I already know how many pull ups I can do in ten minutes. Zero! But, I’ve tried the pull-up marathon with one foot on a chair under the bar for support. It really does work.

    Morgan wrote on January 14th, 2009
  4. Just like Methuselah, I also love the clean and jerk/press. Th other day I hit a new record of 15 consecutive pullups, from 3 6 months ago!
    Also I was wondering, if I eat surplus calories (300-500) wile including bananas on some days but never going over 150 grams of carbs will I gain a lot of fat? You see, I wish to pack on a bit of muscle (don’t worry I don’t desire to be huge, just build some thickness in the arms, chest, and back)

    JE Gonzalez wrote on January 14th, 2009
  5. My three favorites?

    Weighted chins—I do sets of 4-6 reps working up to 90LBs. 30 rep consecutive body weight set is my PR. And the best part of the exercise is, the chin bar is always open.

    Clean and jerk—just started doing these again and really, really like them.

    Standing Bow in yoga—sometimes called Dancer pose. Strength, balance and flexibility. Awesome.

    SuperMike wrote on January 14th, 2009
  6. Mark Sisson wrote on January 14th, 2009
  7. I really like walking lunges with my hands clasped behind my head. After 2 sets of 50 of those, i am spent.

    Holly wrote on January 14th, 2009
  8. oooooh.

    who knew I was so boring?

    wait. dont answer that.

    MizFit wrote on January 14th, 2009
  9. Here is one I recently started doing. Tiki Barber mentioned it in an article I recently read. Its pretty primal:

    Plate Lifting
    Lay a 45-pound plate on the floor in front of you; you’ll need about 20 feet of clear space ahead. Squat, wedge your fingers under the side of the plate closest to you, and drive upward with your legs. When the plate is vertical, guide it forward until it is flat on the ground again, but on its opposite side (don’t just let it drop to the floor and bounce). Do 10 reps. Each lift will work your legs and lower back. For an outdoor version of this exercise, use a large tire.

    I did 42 reps of this one today and you will definitely feel it in your upper legs and glutes.

    There are some other really primal (compound) exercises mentioned in the article as well. Here’s a link to the full story:

    Dave wrote on January 14th, 2009
  10. (1)Barefooted sprints
    (2)Power Clean (and Jerk)
    (3)Power Snatch
    The rest is mere commentary, decoration.

    Keith Norris wrote on January 14th, 2009
  11. Mark,

    If you’ve got the barefoot beach sprints down cold, drop on by Santa Monica for some beach football… we’ve got some pretty fast kids on the team but my money says that most of them couldn’t cover you on the post! hahaha

    All the Best,

    Andrew R

    Andrew R - Go Healthy Go Fit wrote on January 14th, 2009
  12. What’s an inverted push up? Is it a raised feet pushup, or a handstand pushup? Google is kinda ambiguous in defining the term.

    My favorite 3:
    1. deadlift
    2. weighted chin
    3. handstand pushup

    Will wrote on January 14th, 2009
  13. Great choices Mark. I love how you didn’t just drop “Wide Grip Pull-ups” on them, but added a little of your philosophy as well by adding the time element. Big difference between do x # of pull-ups at your leisure, and do x # of pull-ups in 10 minutes!

    Pete wrote on January 14th, 2009
  14. Dips on the armrests of my office chair. I can’t get a good range of motion, but it keeps me sane at work.

    Henry Miller wrote on January 14th, 2009
  15. 1) Walking. Love it.
    2) Squats. Proper ones I learned from Crossfit, not the ones those idiot trainers at the gym teach you where you stop halfway down.
    3) The Plank. I’m not totally in love with Pilates in general, but I love this move.

    Rachel wrote on January 14th, 2009
  16. Love holding plank – best Abs workout!

    Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) wrote on January 14th, 2009
  17. Love it!

    Now to only find somewhere I could do some barefoot beach sprints in NYC without stepping on glass, vomit or HIV… hmmmmmmm

    BEE wrote on January 14th, 2009
  18. BEE,

    Three words… Vibram Five Fingers

    All the Best,

    Andrew R

    Andrew R - Go Healthy Go Fit wrote on January 14th, 2009
  19. Agree with you on the wide grip pull ups Mark. They are a fantastic exercise and really challenging too.

    Tom Parker - Free Fitness Tips wrote on January 14th, 2009
  20. Hey Mark,

    One thing first: you mention liking Inverted push-ups: inverted refers to turning inside out or upside down e.g. invert an hourglass I think you mean feet elevated push-ups. I too like these with my preferences to place my feet up on an exercise ball for added effort and instability, or I use rings set a few inches off the floor and elevate my feet up on a box (these are the best and I use a number of variations). One additional benefit of either of these exercises is that in addition to working the chest/shoulders, etc. they work the core better than any isolated plank/bridging type of exercise too. One inverted exercise that I do to balance my push-ups is with the antagonist movement–inverted rows using either a bar or rings.

    I actually think that 3 antagonist exercises would be more functional here rather than just 3 exercises. E.g. pushing horizontal and pulling horizontal; pulling vertical and pushing vertical; quad dominant and ham/glut dominant. That said, for the sake of the blog, all my exercises are compound movements that can be done with minimal equipment, or better yet outside Primal style, so here they are:

    1. Climbing is totally Primal, so weighted Chins/Pull-ups (alternate grip each rep). Note: I always use a shoulder width or narrower for best shoulder health.

    2. Tough call, I’ve already listed a vertical pulling exercise, so I’m going with hand stand push ups. In descending order, my favorite types are on parallel bars/parallettes, rings, and last against a wall/tree.

    3. Grok needs lower body strength too, toss between single leg pistols and lunges while holding weights/rocks/logs—I guess that I could combine the two into one exercise, but If I have to choose between I’ll go with pistols.



    Calvin Sweeney wrote on January 15th, 2009
  21. Thanks for sharing your faves, Calvin. Yes, more accurately I am referring to decline push-ups.

    I like your 3 favorites, but I’d probably go with the lunges or just plain weighted squats in place of the leg pistols. Leg pistols can be rough on the knees.


    Mark Sisson wrote on January 15th, 2009
  22. Do 5-8 “regular” (non-wide grip) pull-ups, then without letting yourself down (if you are using the equipment that allows for both techniques), grab the wide grips one hand at a time and try to do the same number of wide grip pull-ups. You kind of hang there for a second like an orangutan (primal?) trying to grab the wide grip, and this adds strength and coordination.

    Another favorite is to go out on to our ocean refuge here in the US northeast in the winter (when it’s wide open to the public) and carry heavy frozen water-logged pieces of driftwood for a while, do military presses with them, use them similar to a slosh pipe, just play with them. Hike hard up the steep frozen dunes. It’s a great < 60 minute stength workout, but no doubt looks loony to the other walkers!

    Bruce W wrote on January 15th, 2009
  23. My preferences (right now):

    Clap push ups, jump squats, and close-grip chin ups.

    Mike Caloi wrote on January 15th, 2009
  24. i do 15 minutes of walking followed by weights. i also need to maintain trunk strength to prevent backaches, so i do a series of spinal muscle & abdominal strengthening exercises.

    different preferences for different people, eh? but in the end the exercise regimen that matters is one that includes a good cardio and good strength exercises. for more information on how your exercise routine can better your weight and health, visit my website:

    thanks! :)

    doc alma jones wrote on January 23rd, 2009
  25. For me it’d be:

    Chinups – as much as you can!
    Barbell thrusters
    Sprints (whether 100m or 20mx4 sprints)

    Fitness Fabulous wrote on April 22nd, 2009
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