The Best Exercises for Body Parts

Alright folks, if you’ve ever wondered what the BEST exercises were for training your body from head to toe, then you’ll want to read today’s interview excerpt with leading underground strength and fitness expert, Jason Ferruggia.  Get your muscle building and fat-burning arsenal ready because this is going to be rapid fire….

But, before we jump in, have you ever wondered just how much cardio you should be doing, and more importantly, which forms of cardio aren’t a complete waste of your time? In part 7 Ferruggia chimes in with his thoughts, check it out.

Let’s get into it….

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Craig Ballantyne: All right. We’re going to get into some of the questions that have been on my Facebook page when I said I was going to interview you.

Let’s just do rapid fire here on some of the best exercises for body parts. Best exercise for CHEST?

Jason Ferruggia: I like a suspended fly pushup combo.

It’s really good, think of the function of the pecks and the draw of the arms across the midline, so it’s got to be an exercise that does that.

That would be on a pair of blast straps or the jungle gym straps, you kind of go down and let your arms go out. It’s kind of a fly and kind of a press combo. That works great. That’s probably my number one favorite exercise for chest.

Then any kind of suspended pushup or old school pushups I like a lot.

Craig Ballantyne: Very cool. All right. Next is let’s say UPPER BACK.

Jason Ferruggia: Upper back, you can’t beat dead lifts.

Dead lifts will build your entire back, that’s definitely number one. If you want a more specific I would do some kind of face pull or row.

I always PREFER body weight when it’s possible, so I would do the face pull of a pair of straps or gymnastic rings or something like that.

Craig Ballantyne: One of the things you wrote awhile ago I really liked. You said, “Whenever possible do your assistant exercises as bodyweight.” You want to just maybe explain a little about that?

Jason Ferruggia: Yes. Anytime you move your body through space as opposed to just moving your arms or a fixed object there’s a higher level of muscle activation, you just incorporate more muscles as opposed to laying on your back and doing a dumbbell press where nothing is really activated except those pressing muscles.

If we flip over and do a pushup, now you’re whole body is activated, so you’re getting much more bang for your buck. Your glutes,your quads, your lower back, your abs, everything comes into play and your stabilizers.

You get a lot more out of it.

Even an exercise like a face pull you can do moving your body by just leaning back with TRX straps or the blast straps as opposed to pulling a cable stack.

Craig Ballantyne: Cool. Do you think that people are going to be at less risk of overuse injury if they’re doing more pushups rather than more dumbbell and more bench press?

Jason Ferruggia: Yes, definitely. It’s just more NATURAL and it’s a lot SAFER. Your prime movers and your stabilizers get strengthened in the proper ratios, so there’s NO imbalances you develop. Everything is just kind of in proper balance.

Craig Ballantyne: Very cool. What about for building LATS?

Jason Ferruggia: Chin ups, definitely. Any kind of chin up.

Craig Ballantyne: You’ve got a really cool article on doing more pull ups and doing more pushups. Is the more pushups article on your blog or on your website?

Jason Ferruggia: I believe that’s on my website.

Craig Ballantyne: Okay, and the pull ups one is on the blog, right?

Jason Ferruggia: Yes.

Craig Ballantyne: Okay, cool. Everyone can just search Jason Ferruggia and how to do more pushups or how to do more pull ups and you’ll find that. Those are two of the most popular questions I get and two of the best articles for that.

What about HAMSTRINGS?

Jason Ferruggia: First and foremost would be a full squat. You can’t beat that. If you want more direct you can’t beat the glute ham raise, that’s definitely the best hamstring exercise there is.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t have access to one. If you don’t, you can do the floor glute ham raise. Legend Fitness actually has a great one, it’s cheap it’s about 250 dollars, it’s a floor model where you kind of kneel and you have a partner hold your ankles. That’s a great exercise.

The great thing about the glute ham is unlike a squat or any form of dead lift there’s no joint stress, there’s no stress on your spine, your knees. You can do them if you really want to bring up your hamstrings. You can do the glute hams up to five days a week and really have no ill effect.

Craig Ballantyne: Should you get a giant glute ham raise, so it basically is like 20 feet long?

Jason Ferruggia: I highly recommend that. If you do get that one, I would recommend having Craig come and help you move it in.

Craig Ballantyne: Then get rid of it two weeks later.

Jason Ferruggia: That’s the optimal plan.

Craig Ballantyne: Okay, that’s good. QUADS?

Jason Ferruggia: Squats. I like back squats. Front squats are great too. I don’t really like to do them that much, but they are a great exercise.

Craig Ballantyne: SINGLE LEG exercise for those muscle groups, anything stand out to you?

Jason Ferruggia: Pistols.

You definitely have to be strong enough to do pistols that really can’t screw up your knees, so you’ve got to work up to them over a few months of proper progression. Pistols are great.

One leg back raises or back extensions are awesome for the hamstrings, the whole posterior chain as well. Those are a great exercise.

Craig Ballantyne: Then TRAPS?

Jason Ferruggia: Traps, definitely dead lifts and cleans.

Craig Ballantyne: Then ABS? There’s so many different ways of doing abs.

Let’s look at two ways. What are the exercises that people should do to take care of their back and anything unique beyond the classic plank, side plank stuff, anything you have people do as beginners?

Then beyond that what’s the classic answer to how do I get the six pack abs?

Jason Ferruggia: I told you I don’t have anything exciting beyond the planks and whatnot. The four exercises that I mentioned before, the plank, the side plank, the glute bridge, and the prone mountain, those are great. I think those should be done EVERY DAY.

To do the “Prone Mountain”.

You lay face down on the ground, arms down at your sides with palms facing up. Draw your shoulder blades back and down. Reach toward your feet with your hands. Drive your lower body (hips, quads, feet) down into the ground. Lift your chest up slightly, while keeping your head in line with your spine and looking down. Hold for 60 seconds.

Then every exercise you do you should brace your abs like you’re going to get punched. Make sure you concentrate on doing that. Most people don’t. If you’re overhead pressing, whatever you’re doing always brace those abs really tight.

My favorite exercises are power wheel roll out that you can do with the power wheel from Lifeline. You can just get one of those cheap wheels from the sporting goods store. That’s a great exercise.

Old school hanging leg raises I think are great, but most people aren’t strong enough to do them and you have to work up to a proper progression of those, which would start with just an old school basic reverse crunch on the floor.

There’s a lot of stuff about spinal flexion being dangerous, and I agree, but if you do them properly and progress slowly on these you can do them. It’s a great exercise.

Any kind of farmers walk or uneven farmers walk is great. Medicine ball work is great. Woodchoppers are great. Then your basic squats, deads, overhead presses.

As far as getting a SIX PACK, that’s really just diet. As long as you diet yourself down to single digit body fat then you’ll be able to see them. Diet and proper cardio conditioning.

Craig Ballantyne: Okay. But what if you’re just looking to gain muscle, or work on training your calves…..let’s hear what Ferruggia recommends for those two training areas in part 9.

  • Novan

    Thanks Craig and Jason, really helpful article.

    My knees arent so great for some reason, I’ve had my form assessed on squat, deadlift etc. and I haven’t had a trainer that has seen any problems in it. So should I lay off the squats and do alternative exercises, or just go light?