The Five Exercise Assignment

So I want to start off my saying I did not create this “idea” but I just wanted to join in the fun. I saw this “assignment” in an article on written by Nicholas Bronkall. He used this assignment with the internship program her ran at The Spot Athletics. He got this assignment from Mark Watts. HERE is the original article

Notice a trend there?? Good coaches borrow from other coaches!

In his article asked some top coaches this question: pick five and only five exercises or drills that you can use to train all the university sports for all of the seasons. They also had to give their reasoning behind picking these exercises. Here are a few rules and guidelines he provided:

  • Don’t include warm-up, flexibility, or mobility drills.
  • Leave out pre-hab exercises (rotator cuff, five-way neck, etc.)
  • Cannot use combo lifts like the clean and press.
  • Cannot use general variations.
  • Exercises need to be equipment specific (i.e. barbell lunge vs. dumbbell lunge)
  • No circuits
  • Speed, plyometric, and conditioning drills count towards your five.

So I thought it would be fun to give this a shot! Let me first say these aren’t the end all be all of exercises by any means. Check it out and let me know what you would select!

1. Front Squat

I have recently moved from using the back squat to the front squat with my athletes, primarily for safety issues(you can read HERE why I made the transition). But with the front squat you have a wide variety of loading and rep schemes that can be used throughout the year. I prefer to the front squat over the back squat because of the increased demands in thoracic extension and core stabilization, both important qualities in developing athletic performance and preventing injury.

2. RDL

The posterior chain is the motor of the human body. It is what makes us go and you can’t go wrong with the RDL in building a strong and powerful posterior chain. The hamstring/flute focus of the RDL can help make up for what may lacks in the front squat posterior chain activation.

Again, reps and loading can be tinkered with to get the desired training effect. Tempo can also be changed as well. From an eccentric accentuated RDL to a more explosive hang clean pull type movement.

3. Push-ups

What?? No bench press?? Yup. As I have begun to work with younger athletes, I realize that many of them severely lack in overall general preparedness. They lack good core stability and relative strength.

Many young athletes need to learn to move their bodies first before moving towards the “holy grail” of upper body training. The push-up challenges not only upper body strength but core stability, giving you a ton of bang for your buck.

The great part about push-ups is there are endless variations that can be used to help continue to stimulate and grow.

4. Prowler Push

Want an exercise that can be used to increase speed? What about conditioning? The prowler is the king of both. Shoot there is even a condition named after it…prowler flu.

Recently it has been shown by really smart people like JB Morin to help in the improving sprinting performance. Heck Joe Defranco has touted its effectiveness for speed development for year.

But want to push yourself to the brink?? Pushing a heavy ass sled can spike your heart rate way up and challenge your mental fortitude.

5. Carries

Carries are as functional as it gets when it comes to “core training”. It builds a strong grip, strong upper back, and a rock solid core. All three are pivotal in athletic development.

Carries can be used for both strength and conditioning, just depending on the load and the time under load.


So it’s your turn! If you could pick only 5 exercises to use to train you athletes, clients, or even yourself throughout the year, what would it be