About BIG and small exercises (for a Density Workout)

In my template for a density workout I have classified exercises in big and small one’s, and I want to be a bit more precise on what I mean with this in this post.

In general, big exercises are those that mostly tax the cardio-vascular system (meaning you will be constraint in doing them because you are out of breath), whilst small exercises are those that mostly tax the muscles involved (meaning you will be contraint by their strenght). It is important to note that this is meant to be at a medium load – say about 50-70% of the 1RM (ie the max you can do). Obviously for every exercise there is a point at which you simply can’t do it because you are weak. A good example are pull-ups: whilst I would classify them as a big exercise, for most people (unsupported) pull-ups are simply too heavy, either to do them at all, or to crank out enough reps to start making the heart race.

I also have added an intermediate category because, well, some just really were neither big nor small. Also, dont get too hung up on the categorization – the classification does really depend on a number of things (eg weight used, range of motion) and it is also to some extent personal. Having said this, I would be keen to know whether you agree or not!

Big Exercises

  • Weighted Lunges (overhead, farmer, barbell; forwards, backwards, sidewards; jump; …)
  • Weighted squats (barbell, kettlebell, dumbbell; back, front, overhead; one-legged)
  • Deadlifts (barbell, kettlebell, dumbbell, suitcase; regular, romanian; high-hang)
  • Burpees
  • Thrusters & Wallball shots
  • Rope skipping (double unders)
  • Running, Rowing

Medium Exercises

  • Turkish get-ups
  • Bench Press (regular, incline, dumbbell)
  • Push-ups (heavier variations)
  • Air squats
  • Rope skipping (single unders)
  • Box jumps
  • Sit-ups (GHD)
  • Abs rollout (ball, barbell)

Small Exercises

  • Push-ups (easier variations)
  • Overhead Press (regular, military, javelin)
  • Sit-ups
  • Row (upright, bent over; inverted)
  • Plank (still, rocking)
  • Hand walk-out
  • Suspended Pike (TRX, elastic)
  • Garhammer raise
  • Biceps curls (all variations)
  • Flies (all variations)
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2 thoughts on “About BIG and small exercises (for a Density Workout)

  1. Pingback: Designing your training for specific hormonal impact and spot reduction | Thor Falk

  2. Pingback: HIIT, Complexes, the Lactate System, and Fat Loss | Thor Falk

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