The Best Exercises You Can’t Do Wrong

Anthony J. Yeung
by Anthony J. Yeung
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The Best Exercises You Can’t Do Wrong

No matter what exercise you do, it’s important to use great technique at all times. Period. You might be able to get away with sloppy form for a little bit, but eventually, it’ll catch up with you. That’s why it’s so valuable to have someone by your side, making sure you’re in the correct position and using the correct muscles.

But if don’t have the luxury of hiring a personal trainer, consider doing exercises that are difficult to do incorrectly. It’s not that these movements are easy — it’s just that they force you to use proper technique, otherwise you can’t do them at all.

Welcome to the world of “self-limiting exercises.”


Most exercises require you to use strength and power to move weight. Self-limiting exercises, however, focus on correct posture, muscular activation, movement, balance and coordination — the moment you do things incorrectly, you won’t be able to do the exercise.

Suddenly, it takes your strength out of the equation. You can’t muscle your way through an exercise or even cheat; instead, these movements challenge you in different ways and force you to do things correctly.

For example, you might bench 250 pounds, but if you struggle to balance on one knee or one leg, you’ll struggle to move weights in that position.

By using self-limiting exercises, you’ll develop better coordination, balance and total-body muscular control, which helps you build a stronger and more powerful body.



By holding a kettlebell “bottoms-up” (with the large part above the handle), it instantly turns an exercise into a self-limiting exercise. That’s because, to keep the kettlebell balanced, your entire body — posture, core, etc. — needs to work in sync, otherwise the kettlebell will fall. (Even if you tried to squeeze the handle as hard as you could, it will still fall if you’re not balanced.)

By doing a press while balancing a kettlebell, you’ll build shoulder strength while targeting your stabilizing muscles.

The move: Stand and hold a kettlebell in the bottoms-up position by your shoulder. Press the kettlebell up without it falling, squeeze your glutes and tighten your abs throughout. Don’t think about pushing the kettlebell away from you; think about driving yourself into the ground.


Farmer’s carries are a simple way to build a strong core and develop endurance. Once your grip gets tired or your posture breaks down, you won’t be able to go any further. (How’s that for self-limiting?

The move: Grab heavy dumbbells or kettlebells, stand tall with your chest up and shoulders back and walk. Try using just one arm for extra core work or varying your grip. For example, wrap a towel around each dumbbell and hold the towels instead of the handles.


Want to build strong legs and great lower-body stability and balance without worrying about hurting yourself? Skater squats are a great addition to your workout routine. Just go down and come back up. If you lose your balance, you’ll naturally stop; if you lack the strength, you’ll be stuck at the bottom.

The move: Start from standing and bend one foot behind you. Then, squat down while trying to touch your bent knee onto the ground behind you. Lean your torso and reach your arms forward as you descend. If you can’t reach the ground with your knee, that’s fine — just go as low as you can.


The single-leg Romanian deadlift is one of the best exercises to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings and hip stabilizers. Even better, it encourages great technique, balance, coordination and muscle activation. To perform the exercise, you’ll have to do everything correctly — if something breaks down, you’ll automatically stop and put down your weights.

The move: Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell in your right hand. With your right leg, reach back as far as you can while sitting into your left hip. Keep your shoulders pulled back and imagine crushing your right armpit. Go down as far as you can while maintaining the natural arch in your lower back. Perform all your reps and switch sides.


This is one of the best core exercises you’re (probably) not doing. First, halos hammer your core from many different angles while keeping your body neutral. Second, by getting on just one knee and reducing your “base of support,” it puts all the emphasis on your core, posture and balance — you simply cannot cheat this exercise.

The move: Get on one knee while keeping your feet in-line and hold one kettlebell in both hands with the large part over your hands. Keep your lower back neutral and make big circles around your head with the kettlebell. Do all your reps one way and then switch directions. Then, switch knees.

About the Author

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung

Anthony, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, is a fitness expert at Esquire, GQ and Men’s Health and gets guys in shape for their wedding at GroomBuilder.


15 responses to “The Best Exercises You Can’t Do Wrong”

  1. Avatar Haywood Jablowme says:

    That chick with that tats is beat. Nothing says “I have herpes” like tats.

    • Avatar Carson says:

      Lol. I think she’s rather attractive. Something tells me you’ve probably never even been with a girl half that cute, judging by all the fucking saltiness in that comment. She’s definitely not beat I imagine you’re rather beat probably, that or maybe a girl with tattoos broke your heart. Chill with all the salt lil sis you’ll have a heart attack bein that salty all the time.

      • Avatar Haywood Jablowme says:

        Carson, how’s the suppression with Valtrex going?

        • Avatar odanny says:

          Dude, give it a rest, take your venom elsewhere, quit spamming the thread.

          I like these types of exercises, as I already have balance and coordination issues, and never considered doing something that improves both strength and balance at the same time.

      • Avatar 4WelfareReform says:

        I know people without tats and with herpes.

  2. Avatar gimmedathoe says:

    Obviously the author has never even stepped foot in a gym, nevermind coached someone. Not only are airborne lunges and single leg deadlifts butchered all the time, most people aren’t strong enough to do them in the first place. Anyone fit enough to even incorporate these in their program doesn’t need fitness advice from some dweeb.

    • Avatar odanny says:

      Why aren’t you instead sharing your knowledge with the rest of us and writing your own exercise column? Oh, that’s right, it’s because you got nothing. I’m guessing you’re the second account of the douchebag below, amirite?

  3. Avatar Kate Paullin says:

    I disagree that single leg romanian deadlifts are fool-proof—I see people angling their hips instead of leaving them square when doing this move all of the time!

  4. Avatar bret says:

    this might be the most inaccurate post I’ve seen on MFP, which is saying something given the calibre of their content

    • Avatar George Willis says:

      And yet you continue to read. If I disagreed with articles from one source that often I would move on and find something else to read…..I’m just sayin’….

  5. Avatar ktrabbit says:

    Why did I read these comments…so many nasty, vicious responses. Sad.

  6. Avatar pman says:

    Great go-to exercises, for when you miss out on bootcamp!

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