For the most elemental of human movements – sitting down and getting back up, or lifting something heavy off the ground – there is no better exercise than the squat. But form is incredibly important for preventing injury, so start with unweighted “air squats” to develop a full range of motion before adding weight.
Stand with feet wider than shoulder width, toes splayed 30 degrees, your chest up and butt back. Weight should be on your heels, not your toes. Squat by pushing your butt backward, not by bending your knees forward. Knees should track directly over the feet, never caving inward or outward. Bring your thighs parallel to the floor while keeping your weight on your heels and your spine straight and solid.
Back Squat: Once you can hold good form through 20 body-weight squats, add weight by resting an empty barbell on your back, and then add plates as you progress.
Athletic power is the ability to accelerate weight – it’s not just about applying force, but applying it quickly. Almost every sport depends on power, from sprinting to driving the pedals of a bicycle. The kettlebell swing is the perfect foundational power exercise, Boyle says, “because it’s simple and explosive.”
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width, toes slightly outward, and hang the kettlebell between your legs. Lock the shoulders by pulling the shoulder blades down toward your feet. Bend at the hips to push your butt backward while the kettlebell hangs loose in front. Snap hips forward. Don’t pull up the bell with your arms; stand up explosively and let it fly up on its own. But control is everything, and the bell should reach only eye level. On the backswing, let arms come flat against your torso with the bell between your legs.
One-Armed Kettlebell Swings: These are done exactly the same way as regular swings but require much more body control.