April 12, 2022
A few months ago, I posted an Instagram video that included a sneak peek of some exercises I've been sprinkling into my workouts lately in an effort to achieve better biomechanical alignment, optimize my gait, activate the core and stabilizing muscles that are often neglected in the average workout program, and in general, to train with the goal of anti-aging and longevity, as opposed to hardcore metabolic stimulus or fitness.
After all, though I see the definite benefit in hardcore Crossfit-esque, bodybuilder-style, or hardcore HIIT training—in fact, I tend to incorporate elements of each into my workout routine—the problem with any of these programs is they often lead to injury, overuse pain, joint damage, faulty gait patterns, and other biomechanical issues.
This is simply due to the fact that these types of workouts primarily focus on the “big” muscles (e.g. butt, back, abs, calves, hammies, shoulder, chest, etc.), and often neglect many of the smaller stabilizing muscles (e.g. external rotator, deep shoulder, interior quad, shin, big toe, etc.) as well as the quality of movement patterns and proper muscle recruitment.
Since my recent interviews with folks like Shawn Sherman of Square1Systems and Ben Patrick “The Knees Over Toes Guy,” I've been thinking a lot more about how I can intelligently weave more exercises into my program that support being able to resist chronic movement injuries or gait deficits, be maximally fit for the long game, throw my grandkids around or play tennis until I'm 90, and that also include certain movement patterns that we're frankly born with, but that we tend to lose the ability to properly do with age.
So allow me to briefly share with you a few specific movements, workouts, and resources I’ve been implementing on the regular to keep my key postural muscles activated, reduce injury risk and joint pain, and help my body age gracefully while buttressing natural movement patterns.
The following resources are ideal for everyone from the budding athlete who is trying to make the Varsity team and add a bit more strength and power to their game, to the pro athlete who wants as long and profitable a career as possible, to the average fitness enthusiast who just wants to feel good late into life.
The 7 Best Workouts & Exercises That Most People Don't Know About (But Should Be Doing)
As a guy who likes to try out a whole bunch of stuff and then borrow the best-of-the-best from each, I can tell you with confidence that I don't necessarily perform the full gamut of workouts found in each of the books or training programs below.
I have, however, thoroughly studied them all, and—in the spirit of the “80/20” principle and the idea of minimum effective dose—have implemented the specific moves and exercises from each philosophy that seem to resonate best with my body and give me the most bang-for-my-buck in the shortest time possible.
So here are the top seven longevity-enhancing workouts and exercises I've been researching as of late, as well as the elements of each program I actually use on a regular basis.
GOATA stands for the “Greatest Of All Time Athletes.” It's based upon the idea that multi-decade athletes who seem to rarely get hurt—such as Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt, Tom Brady, Martina Navratilova, and more—quite often exhibit the same movement patterns also seen in indigenous tribes, and that often naturally exist outside of modern society's comforts of chairs, couches, and bulky shoes.
GOATA founder, Coach Gil Boesch noted that all these populations have the same patterns of movement, and then developed a program that operates on the idea that there should be a continuous flow of movement from one side of the body to the other; a flow of movement that collects, transfers, and releases energy (very similar to the principles I discuss with David Weck, inventor of the Bosu Ball and core coiling principles described in this podcast).
GOATA teaches you that your body moves through space in spirals, not straight lines. If you look at how a baby crawls, you can see specific joint angles also displayed in pro athletes and indigenous peoples who don't sit as much as the average Westerner. This video offers a really great explanation of and a deeper dive into the GOATA principles, but there are essentially three main movement points to be aware of:
- Keep inner ankles bones high by building foot strength, foregoing orthotics and other bulky shoes, and developing foot arch strength.
- Setting “bows” by training and learning how to move so that your legs act as a spring.
- Corner the hips to release energy that is stored from the leg springs.
While I highly recommend the book “Powered by GOATA” and the GOATA YouTube channel for a complete description and full list of exercises, here are a few techniques that you can start using right now:
- Pushing the foot off the ground with a toe angle of about 22.5 degrees (slightly pigeon-toed).
- Walking more on the outside edge of your feet.
- Sitting on the floor more.
- Wearing minimalist shoes with zero-drop and a wide toe box.
- Pumping the arms forward and then across the body when walking or running to create a core coiling type of effect for better storage and transfer of energy during gait.
- Practicing squats and lunges using Sole Steps like this that place your foot in the proper alignment.
2) Ben Patrick’s “Knees Over Toes Guy” Program
After twenty-five years of hardcore endurance training and racing, including some pretty gnarly Ironman triathlons, Spartan races, adventure races, marathons, centuries, and multi-day beatdowns, I've definitely “done a number” on my knees, especially when you consider all of that was preceded by a decade of competitive tennis, basketball, volleyball, and bodybuilding. Unfortunately, despite using all types of regenerative medicine protocols I talk about with Dr. Matt Cook and Tony Robbins, I still experience some amount of pain and discomfort from the years of cartilage breakdown.
But recently, I discovered and interviewed trainer and knee specialist Ben Patrick, who is most well known for his knee-fixin' “Knees Over Toes” protocol, as well as a few lesser-known guides to athletic longevity in general, particularly his ATG For Life book. And I tell you what…after incorporating his “Key Workouts 1 and 2” from ATG For Life, often as a warm-up or cool-down for a weight training or HIIT workout, my knees are slowly but steadily getting back to functional, athletic status.
Now I definitely recommend checking out the full program to fully rehab your knees, but here are some other workouts and exercises from Ben Patrick to get you started:
- Sled forward and backward push/drag (I use my home treadmill at a super slow speed of 2.0mph if I can't make it to the gym where the sled lives)
- “Pancake” splits
- Band pull-aparts
- Incline presses
- Reverse hyperextensions
- Poliquin pulses
- And, most notably, the two exercises that I think are most beneficial: tibialis raises and ATG (ass-to-grass) split squats.
3) Eric Goodman’s Foundation Training
I've known of Dr. Eric Goodman ever since my friend dragged me to the gym to experience an entire core class based on his training philosophies, and I subsequently interviewed him way, way back in 2011 about an amazingly effective core building and back decompression routine from his book True To Form.
While it's a bit difficult to explain his program and exercises to people who haven't actually done the moves, it basically consists of a series of simple exercises that train the posterior muscle chain—specifically, the shoulders, back, butt, and legs—thus shifting the burden of support away from joints and putting it back where it belongs: into supportive and stabilizing muscle groups such as the erector spinae, deep diaphragmatic, and glute muscles. You can also find descriptions and photos of me doing a few of the movements in this article on Foundation Training.
Nowadays, during the fifteen minutes I allot myself each morning for foam rolling, deep tissue work, stretching, rebounding on a trampoline, and performing a few of the exercises you're reading about in this article, I always sprinkle in a few of the moves from Eric's book True To Form. I'll also often do in them in the sauna or after I've been sitting for a while, such as on a road trip or on an airplane.
My favorite move from his program (and I think the most beneficial and effective) is called “The Founder.” Here's what it looks like:
4) Hypopressive Breathwork
To be honest, I never thought I'd find myself writing this, but the sad truth is that as we age, we experience a gravitationally influenced “drop” in our pelvic organs, which, when combined with a gradual weakening of pelvic floor musculature, straining on the toilet, and pounding the pavement or treadmill while running, can result in problematic issues such as vaginal or rectal prolapse, incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and other embarrassing or inconvenient “crotch issues.”
Enter hypopressive breathing (here's a quick video overview of what it looks like). Since discovering this type of breathwork, I've been practicing it regularly, along with specific relaxing, kegel, inversion, and breathing exercises specific to pelvic health that I've recently learned from Denise Conway and her YouTube site as well as her book Flower Empowered (yeah, yeah, fellas, I know us dudes don't have “flowers” per se, but our musculature and organ structure down there is pretty damn similar to the more flowery members of the human race).
By using Denise's exercises, I've been able to “reverse” the gradual decline in pelvic musculature strength, mild incontinence, and even occasional incidences of prolapse that I seem to have experienced with advancing age. I've also learned how to effectively pair breathwork and pelvic alignment to activities such as exercising, sex, and defecation. I've softened and released tight, stuck muscles of my pelvic floor that, for obvious reasons, most massage therapists simply don't work on. As a result, my bowel movements have become easier, my orgasms have become stronger, and my pelvic alignment during workouts has become much higher quality.
I truly wish I'd known about these types of exercises earlier in my life, and I recommend you at least grab her book and/or check out her YouTube channel to learn more. Similar to many of these other programs, I do a few of these exercises during my morning daily warm-up, when in the sauna, while walking, and as a warm-up/cool-down for one of my gym routines.
5) Othership Breathwork
As I've mentioned a few times, Othership is my favorite new breathwork app. It has over 300 selections of extremely well-produced guided breathwork sessions, including specific “trippy” sessions designed to pair with things like CBD, THC, ketamine, sex, etc. There's a dizzying variety of breathwork apps out there, but from easy-to-follow instructions to the music to the binaural beats to the simplicity of the app, this one is just really good. (It's best with headphones, by the way, because of the binaural beats and detailed music tracks.)
I, along with my twin thirteen-year-old sons, have been doing a 6-15 minute Othership “upper” session each day, a “downer” session often before naps or sleep, and on the weekends, the longer 50-70 minute holotropic-style trippy sessions, usually laid flat on my back in the sauna.
Additionally, if you would like a better breathwork foundation that will pair well with this app, I recommend the courses by either Niraj Naik or Josh Trent. I've taken both courses along with my sons, and feel as though I have a very solid relationship with my breath, which is wonderful for enhancing general metabolic health, but also exercise and CO2 tolerance, sleep, ability to be a multi-orgasmic man, tantric breathwork with my wife, transference of energy from my core via my breath for more power on exercises like the kettlebell swing or snatch, and much more.
Now, these last two additions are relatively new discoveries that I just began in the past couple of weeks while working on this article, but my early testing has convinced me that they're important enough to include.
6) Posture Pro
Annette Verpillot is the founder of Posturepro, a health company specializing in restoring the brain-body connection for proper posture, using some unique but really effective tools. Her postural evaluation system is recognized throughout the world and used by many professional athletes, teams, and trainers for eliminating chronic pain, increasing strength, and improving athletic proficiency.
I recommend that you start by using her “Posture Pro Bundle“, which combines special shoe inserts, a breathing device, and a bodywork tool. The therapeutic insoles use frequency and vibration technology to stimulate your nervous system, which allows your brain to coordinate better alignment and motor patterns on a long-term basis, and pairs really well with the type of GOATA foot angle and alignment methods described earlier in this article. The fascial tool allows you to do self-tissue work via proprioceptive enhancement (it helps breakdown fascial adhesions and stimulates the skin prior to workouts), and the functional activator breathwork device can be used during walks and while exercising or working at your desk to help restore proper breathing mechanics, train your jaw, and protect your teeth. It also helps prevent grinding of the teeth, which can also help to eliminate excess muscle tension.
7) “The Outside Edge: Foot & Fascia Program” by Timothy Shieff
You may recognize Timothy Shieff as the UK-based free runner who competed on MTV's Ultimate Parkour Challenge, American Ninja Warrior, and Ninja Warrior UK. Interestingly, he also built a significant YouTube following promoting veganism, then later decried and forsook that diet due to health issues, and as a result experienced a drastic improvement in health.
Anyways, my interest in Tim has nothing to do with his diet, but rather with his unique new foot and fascia strengthening program that also addresses deeper underlying health issues and principles of Chinese medicine and meridian flow.
Tim's new program called “The Outside Edge” is based on the principle that our feet are the bridge between our body and the Earth, and while they should be one of the strongest links in the chain, they have actually become the weakest for many of us, thanks to modern comforts. His course is therefore designed to stabilize, strengthen, realign, and re-tension our bodies at their very foundation, while helping develop fascia (our anti-fragility Spider-Man suit that sits under the skin and on top of our muscles) that may have become worn out, torn, or never fully developed to begin with.
Tim's course, based on a “Pay What You Feel” donation model, basically contains a PDF and a series of videos that feature four elements: earth, air, fire, and water, each of which has several positions. I've primarily been sprinkling in the foot stabilizing exercises from the “earth” element and the basic stretches from the “water” element, and have to admit that I really like the way it seems to be making me feel and move. This one is definitely worth checking out.
As I described in a recent Mark Bell Power Project interview, my modus operandi for learning new workouts, routines, and exercises is to simply stay abreast of new programs in the fitness/rehab industries, try them all by using myself as a bit of a guinea pig, borrow from the best of the best, then figure out a way to weave the exercises and workouts that work best into my weekly routine in such a manner that I'm not spending oodles of hours at the gym or working out, but still keeping myself “put together” as a fully functional human.
Heck, it's pretty rare—unless I have a very busy day and know that it's unlikely I'll get anything else in from a movement standpoint—that I'll spend more than thirty minutes in a gym or doing a formal workout. Instead, these days, I tend to 1) hit the gym or outdoors or the garage to exercise for around thirty minutes per day 2) simply sprinkle the type of exercises described above into my average work or travel day as “movement snacks,” and 3) do a crapola-ton of walking (typically 15,000-18,000 steps per day). Not too bad, right?
So, I hope you find value and enjoyment in experimenting with a few of these tips and exercises, and hopefully, you're able to find a few new ways to keep your body in tip-top shape as you age.
After all, longevity ain't complicated folks: it all comes down to quality sleep, sunshine, heat, cold, proper gait, decent mobility, occasionally lifting heavy stuff, breathing hard a few times a week, having good relationships, loving God, loving others, being present, managing stress, and choosing to be happy no matter your circumstances.
I'll drop the mic with that last sentence (read it again!) but if you have questions, comments, or feedback; want to share your own moves, tips, workouts, or exercises; or feel like I missed anything, then feel free to leave your thoughts below. I read them all!