Top TEN List of Essential Exercise Techniques

The Sand & Steel TEN

Top 10 List of Essential Exercise Techniques

Working for Sand & Steel is a double-edged sword.  While you have an opportunity to learn from some of the best coaches in the DC area, you’ll be held to that same standard.  You’ll get to learn nearly every aspect of personal training and yoga, but you’ll also need to learn every aspect of personal training and yoga.  If you are looking for a simple job — one where you get to just count reps on a leg press machine or a smith machine — this isn’t the job for you.  But if you want to improve your career and be the best personal trainer you can be, then please apply.

Note to Existing Clients (i.e. not personal trainers or yoga teachers)
This article is intended generally for personal trainers and yoga teachers.  If there are any techniques on this list that you would like us to teach you, please let me know.  Otherwise, don’t worry about which exercises are on your program.  We have gone through extensive consideration as to which exercises you should do.  More isn’t necessarily better.  Improvement speed is measured by movement quality and intensity. 

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Question: What am I going to Learn in the Mentorship Program?
Answer: In short, we are going to make you a better coach.  We going to teach you those skills and techniques that are most lacking in your current knowledge base.
Question: Could you be more specific?
Answer: The Mentorship (like our Personal Training) is different for everyone.  It’s customized to you.  But for starters, we are going to help you learn the Sand & Steel TEN.
Question: What is the Sand & Steel TEN?
Answer:  Since starting Sand & Steel 6 years ago, I’ve diligently recorded every single workout I have written for more than 5,000 clients.  Over time, we have edited and improved these workouts.  We have filtered these workouts down and kept only the very best workouts.  Our current distilled list of workouts contains 48 workouts and 384 unique workouts.  Being an engineer, I took that list of workouts and analyzed the Exercises and Techniques that are generated the most success.  These are the most essential exercises and techniques a new personal trainer should know.  This list, the Sand & Steel TEN, forms the basis of our training in our Mentorship program, hiring standards, and certifications standards for our Level 1 Certification.

The Sand & Steel Top TEN List of Essential Exercise Techniques

10 List of Essential Exercise Techniques

Being a great coach is all about knowing how to teach the fundamentals better.  At Sand & Steel, there are 10 types of fundamental exercises, and we want you to become a master at coaching all of them.

  • The Level 1 Warmup
  • The 9 Foundational CrossFit Exercises + 5 Common CrossFit Exercises
  • The 14 TRX Suspension Trainer Exercises
  • Dumbbell Exercises
  • Bodyweight Movements and Animal Walks
  • Kettlebell Exercises
  • The 3 Power Lifts * 3 Olympic Lifts
  • The 30 Foundational Yoga Asanas
  • 2 Stretches for Every Main Muscle Groups
  • 2 Muscle Isolation Technique for Every Main Muscle Group

By Mastery, we mean:

  • knowing all the points of performance for all exercises;
  • being able to scale up or scale down any of these movements for any mobility or strength issue;
  • being able to demonstrate all exercises with good technique at a reasonable weight for a professional personal trainer;
  • being able to quickly and consistently see client faults;
  • being relentless in making sure the client faults are fixed;
  • being able to quickly and consistently find the right cues to correct these faults.

We certainly don’t expect you’ll know all these techniques and exercises when you first apply to work at Sand & Steel.  Since we use these techniques frequently, we expect you to work diligently in mastering these techniques and exercises.

Top 10 List of Essential Exercise Techniques

I. The Level 1 Warmup (1 on our Top 10 List of Essential Exercise Techniques)

The Level 1 Warmup is a scalable powerful warmup system designed by Dawn and Paul (but mostly Dawn.)  It’s required for all beginner clients and generates total body strength, and builds functional power.  It paves the way for more advanced weight loss, conditioning, and power lifting programs.

  • Squat to Stand: Squat, touch your toes, straighten your back, lift your shoulders above your hips, deadlift yourself up.
  • Squat to Stand Parivtta utkatasana variation
  • Squat to Stand Malasana Variation
  • Wide walk out to plank, walk feet to hands
  • Wide walk out to plank, lower low plank, push to high plank, walk feet to hands
  • Inchworm
  • Glute Bridge
  • Cook Hamstring Lift
  • GHR Hamstring Curl
  • Ashtanga Pranam
  • Knees to chest
  • Banded Clams
  • Quad Rolling (5 minutes all sides)
  • Calf Rolling (3 minutes all sides)
  • Box Elevated Burpees
  • Bird Dogs
  • Warrior I, II, III
  • Superman
  • Good Mornings
  • Low Planks
  • Walkover

II. CrossFit Techniques (2 on our Top 10 List of Essential Exercise Techniques)

Equally important as our level 1 warmup programming, is our CrossFit programming.  We’ve taken the 9 Foundational CrossFit Techniques and added 5 more of the most common, most powerful, and most popular CrossFit exercises.  These 14 CrossFit exercises are workhorses in our high-intensity programming and easily make it to our 2 spot on our Top 10 List of Essential Exercise Techniques.

  1. Deadlift
  2. Medball Clean
  3. Sumo Deadlift High Pull
  4. Strict Press
  5. Push Press
  6. Push Jerk
  7. Air Squat
  8. Front Squat
  9. Overhead Squat
  10. Thruster
  11. Wall Ball
  12. Toes2Bar
  13. Pullup
  14. Chest2bar

III. TRX Suspension Trainer (3 on our Top 10 List of Essential Exercise Techniques)

The TRX Suspension Trainer is an amazing tool.  Versatile in working core (TRX calls it all core, all the time.)  The TRX Rip Trainer is also effective, but not so much as to make our Top 10 list.  It would like make our 11-20 list (should I ever write that article :-). ) But I digress… the TRX Suspension Trainer is a scaling beast, easily taking some of the more challening bodyweight techniques and adding simple scaling to make these exercises accessible.  Want more options?  Add a deadlift band or miniband in the hook area, and you have a dynamic moving load for building balance.

  1. Low Rollout
  2. Bicep Curl
  3. Inverted Row
  4. Atomic Pushup
  5. Body Saw
  6. Knee Sweep
  7. Pike
  8. Chest Press
  9. Crunch
  10. Glute Bridge
  11. Hamstring Curl
  12. Hip Rise
  13. TRX Squat
  14. TRX Lunge

IV. Dumbbell (4 on our Top 10 List of Essential Exercise Techniques)

Did you know that the dumbbell is the oldest modern training tool still in use today?  It’s versatile, scalable, and easy to use.  However, there is a good amount basic knowledge and strength needed to wield a dumbbell effectively.  Dumbbells form the backbone of hypertrophy program (along with cables which narrowly missed our Top 10 list.)

  1. Snatch, Alternating Snatch, Hang Power Snatch
  2. Bench Row and Renegade Row
  3. Supinated Curl
  4. Snatch, Alternating Snatch, Hang Power Snatch
  5. Overhead Press
  6. Bench Press
  7. Kickbacks
  8. Pour Over
  9. Scare Crows
  10. Thumb Down Delt Raise
  11. Front Squat
  12. Thruster

V. Bodyweight and Animal Walks (5 on our Top 10 List of Essential Exercise Techniques)

What do I look for in a truly skilled personal trainer?  Someone that can scale a workout to a beginner client and an expert client without using any equipment?  Which are my favorite bodyweight exercises and animal walks?  See below.   New coaches?  You should know these cold by your first day.

  1. Lunge & Split Squat (Bodyweight)
  2. Stepup and Russian Stepup (Bodyweight)
  3. Russian Twist (Bodyweight)
  4. Pushup (Bodyweight)
  5. High Plank (Bodyweight)
  6. Low Plank (Bodyweight)
  7. Jump Rope (Bodyweight)
  8. Low Bear Crawl (Animal Walk)
  9. High Bear Crawl (Animal Walk)
  10. Beast Walk (Animal Walk)
  11. Spider Walk (Animal Walk)
  12. Inch Worm (Animal Walk)
  13. Scorpion Walk and Jump (Animal Walk)
  14. Crouching Tiger (Vahva) 1 2
  15. Exorcist (Wheel Walk)
  16. Animal Flow: Specific stretches3
    1. Beast Reach
    2. Wave Unload
    3. Ape Reach
    4. Crab Reach
    5. Scorpion Reach
  17. Animal Flow Traveling forms
    1. Lateral Ape (version 1 and 2)
    2. Forward Ape
    3. Forward/Reverse Traveling Beast
    4. Forward/Reverse Traveling Frog
    5. Reverse Traveling Crab
    6. Travelling Scorpion
  18. Animal Flow: Switches and Transitions
    1. Underswitch
    2. Underswitch Taps
    3. Jumping Underswitch
    4. Scorpion switch
    5. Side Kickthrough
    6. Jumping Side KickThrough
    7. Levitating Side Kickthrough
    8. Front Kick Through

VI. Kettlebell (6 on our Top 10 List of Essential Exercise Techniques)

The kettlebell… scalable, versatile, and mac daddy of conditioning equipment.  From the swing to the snatch. the kettlebell scales in weight as much as it scales in complexity.  From walking swings to the dual kettlebell clean and jerk, the kettlebell can do it all.  With a heavy kettlebell, it works for strength.  Medium weights work for conditioning.

  1. Russian Swing
  2. Turkish Getup
  3. Russian & American Snatch
  4. Russian & American Clean
  5. Contralateral Single Leg Deadlift
  6. Sumo Deadlift High Pull to Goblet Squat
  7. Bent Press
  8. Two Hand Anyhow
  9. Pistol Grip Press

VII. Barbell Power Lifts & Olympic Lifts (7 on our Top 10 List of Essential Exercise Techniques)

This is the second appearance of the barbell (with the CrossFit techniques making number 2 on our Top 10 List of essential exercise techniques.)  The 6 exercises (plus 200 hundred drills and variations) are the essence of a strength training and explosive power program.  The exercises look simple, but they are not.  They take years to master.  Coaching others to develop proficiency in power lifting and Olympic lifting requires taking specialized certifications and hundreds of hours of study.  Coaching others in Olympic lifting and power lifting is immensely rewarding.  Personally, there is nothing more exciting them helping a client hit their first barbell clean with good form.

  1. Bench Press (Power Lifting)
  2. Deadlift (Power Lifting)
  3. Back Squat (Power Lifting)
  4. Clean, Hang Clean, Squat Clean, Power Clean, Muscle Clean (Olympic Lifting)
  5. Snatch, Hang Snatch, Squat Snatch, Power Snatch, Muscle Snatch. (Olympic Lifting)
  6. Squat Jerk and Split Jerk (Olympic Lifting)

VIII. 30 Beginner Yoga Asanas (8 on our Top 10 List of Essential Exercise Techniques)

Yoga is power, balance, and movement.  CrossFit wants to market that its coaches can teach you the handstand… you want to learn the handstand… work with a seasoned Rocket or Iyengar Yoga Teacher.  When customized and individualized, Yoga can transform your movements, control stress, and even help you lose weight.  Sure, yoga can’t do everything (it doesn’t build huge muscles and it won’t help you do even one pull-up).  But no single technique does everything.  I love coaching yoga, because it works for everyone.

  1. Standing
    1. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
    2. ParvirttaTrikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)
    3. Uttanasana (Forward Fold)
    4. Virabhadrasana I (Warrior 1)
    5. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2)
    6. Virabhadrasana III (Warrior 3)
    7. Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Stretch)
    8. Parsvottanasana (Pyramid Pose)
  2. Seated
    1. Navasana (Boat Pose)
    2. Eka Pada Rajakaponasana (One Leg Pigeon)
    3. Malasa (Garland Pose)
    4. Paśchimottānāsana (Seated Fold)
  3. Supine
    1. Setu Baddha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
    2. Supta Jaṭhara Parivartānāsana (Supine Spinal Twist)
    3. Pavanamuktāsana (Wind Removing Pose)
  4. Prone
    1. Uttāna Shishosana (Puppy Pose)
    2. Utthita Balāsana (Extended Child’s Pose)
    3. Śalabhāsana (Locust Pose)
    4. Poorna Śalabhāsana (Superman Pose)
  5. Backbends
    1. Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
    2. Ūrdvha Mukhasana (Up Dog)
    3. Ūrdhva Dhanurāsana (Wheel)
  6. Arm and Leg Support
    1. Ardha Pincha Mayurasana (Dolphin Pose)
    2. Adha Mukha Shavasana (Down Dog)
    3. Adho Mukha Mandukasana (Frog)
    4. Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose)
  7. Inversions & Arm Balances
    1. Ūrdvha Mukha Vrikshasana (Handstand)
    2. Sirsasana I and II (Headstand)
    3. Bakasana (Crow)
    4. Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stance)
    5. Halasana (Plow Pose)

IX. Stretches (9 on our Top 10 List of Essential Exercise Techniques)

Stretches are very important to improving flexibility and mobility.  Flexibility and mobility training is a signature part of the training at Sand & Steel.  Tight muscles move joints into deformed positions.  There are literally hundreds of stretches you can do.  A coach’s ability to recognize which stretch should be done, and how to sequence those stretches is what separate the masters from the beginners.  Many people spend their whole life “stretching” and never gain any flexibility improvement.   That’s not acceptable at Sand & Steel.  From Mobility|WOD, to FMS, to Yoga, we leverage the right stretches in the right places to help you gain mobility.  Coaches… you’ll need to know at least two different stretches in each area.

  1. PNF Stretching (Technique)
  2. Calves
  3. Hamstrings
  4. Quads
  5. IT-Bands
  6. Groin
  7. Glutes
  8. Core Flexors
  9. Lumbar Extenders
  10. Lumbar region rotation
  11. Obliques
  12. Chest
  13. Trapezius extension
  14. Trapezius rotation
  15. Anterior Deltoids
  16. Biceps
  17. Triceps
  18. Wrist Flexors
  19. Wrist Extensors

X. Muscle Isolation Techniques (10 on our Top 10 List of Essential Exercise Techniques)

Muscle Isolation Exercises are used in many different physical therapy practices.  We utilize Muscle Activation Techniques and Muscle Energy Techniques to help improve the mind muscle connection.  Weak muscles allow joints to move into deformed positions.  More often than not, we find new clients walk in with weak toes, weak hamstrings, weak glutes, weak core, weak rear delts, and weak triceps.  This sets up the opposite of the body to get injured.  At Sand & Steel, our coaches learn how to test for muscle weaknesses and how to strengthen weakened muscles.  Coaches, you’ll need to master at least one muscle testing technique and one muscle strengthening technique.  Yes, sometimes, the test is the exercise and the exercise is the test.  If that’s the case, you’ll need two of each.

  1. Foot Flexion
  2. Calves
  3. Hamstrings
  4. Quads
  5. Groin
  6. Internal Hip Rotation
  7. External Hip Rotation
  8. Glutes
  9. Core Flexors
  10. Lumbar Extenders
  11. Lumbar region rotation
  12. Obliques
  13. Pec Major
  14. Trapezius extension
  15. Internal Shoulder Rotation
  16. External Shoulder Rotation
  17. Anterior Deltoids
  18. Biceps
  19. Triceps
  20. Wrist Flexors
  21. Wrist Extensors
Top 10 List of Essential Exercise Techniques
Do you want to see a Top 20 List?

Do you want to read a top 20 list?  Let me know on our social media or in a comment below.

11. Advanced Yoga Asanas
12. Cable Machine
13. Exercise Tubing
14. Exercise Bands
15. TRX Rip Trainer
16. Vipr & Loaded Movement Training
17. Clubbells and Macebells
18. Bosu / Step 360
19. Sand Bags
20. Rollers & Lacrosse Balls

  1.  https://youtu.be/14BjRxE7f1o
  2.  https://youtu.be/KgVwrJZ4stI
  3. https://youtu.be/rbmIdBD91PU

About Coach Paul

Paul Bio PictureView my Bio | Email me  | Newsletter
BioMedical Engineering - Johns Hopkins University.
Juris Doctorate - Rutgers.
Yoga, M|WOD, CrossFit Level II, 3DMAPS, FMT, FMSII, YBT, RKC, TRX, PN.

Paul has trained over 3000 clients and more than a 100 personal trainers over his 10 years as a mobility and strength coach.  He emphasizes safety and corrective exercises in all programming (strength, weight loss, conditioning, etc.)  His practice focuses on improving flawed movement patterns to prevent injury and improve skeletal-muscular function.  Paul employs a balanced approach in training utilizing his training Yoga, CrossFit, Powerlifting, and Movement Courses to systematically strengthen weakened muscles and mobilize joints and muscle tissue.  Move Better ... Train Better.

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