It’s 2019 and there’s no shortage of information on how to “live well.”

Every person with an Instagram account is a fitness or life coach.

Photoshop, filters, and lighting makes it look like 90% of the world is chiseled and ready to win the Crossfit games.

Every training program has the words “Extreme,” or “Insane,” in the title.

Yet obesity rates are rising.

The number of people who are clinically depressed is up.

Opioids are rampant.

Needless to say, even with this onslaught of information, a lot of people are struggling.

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Bench press.

Back Squat.

Deadlift.

These are the foundational exercises that come to mind when you think about getting big and strong.

Everyone’s seen pictures of Arnold and Franco Columbo squatting and deadlifting 500+ pounds. They’re jacked, so you have to do the same exercises the same way, right?

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Once you’ve been on the planet long enough, you’re bound to have some wear and tear.

You might not have had ACL reconstruction or hip replacement surgery, but with a whopping 80% of U.S. adults dealing with lower back pain at some point in their lives, and millions more dealing with knee and/or hip issues, it would behoove most of us to lay off the heavy barbell work and put a premium on single leg training.

Why?

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Traditionally, training cycles have followed the seasons: bulk through the fall and winter, then cut through the spring to be shredded for the summer months. Once Memorial Day hits, it’s maintenance mode until Labor Day. The hope is always that you can maintain some semblance of abs through the barbecues and parties that are seemingly every weekend with extra cardio and being uber strict with your diet Monday through Friday.

It’s time to flip this outdated periodization cycle on it’s head though, because there’s a better, more efficient way to train during the summer to maximize your results while allowing flexibility in your schedule to actually get outside and take advantage of the weather.

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Deadlifting and squatting are great.

But remember, they’re movement patterns, not necessarily exercises.

Deadlifting can be done with a barbell, a trap bar, or kettlebells. They can also be done from the floor, from blocks of various heights, or from safety racks. You could also use bands or chains for accommodating resistance.

You can squat with your bodyweight, with a dumbbell in the goblet position, with a barbell on the front of your shoulders or the back, with one kettlebell or two, or a myriad of other ways.

The point is, finding the right exercise for you to train each of the fundamental movement patterns is crucial to getting stronger, building muscle, and getting more athletic. There are no sacred cow exercises that you have to do in particular, but you need to make sure you hit all 8 patterns and attack any weak links you have in order to keep progressing.

With that being said, while the squat and deadlift movements are important, the lower body pattern that most people can and should train the hardest and heaviest is the split stance.

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