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What is the Best Exercise? Lord of the Exercises

What’s the Most Metabolically Demanding Exercise to Perform?

Most people would think that the squat or deadlifts would be the most metabolically demanding exercise to perform, but the newest research may shock you.

The purpose of this study was to quantify and compare the acute metabolic responses to resistance exercise protocols comprising free-weight, body-weight, and battling rope exercises.

Ten resistance-trained men performed 13 resistance exercise protocols on separate days in random order consisting of only one exercise per session.

Protocols: A standard 2-minute rest interval was used in between all sets for each exercise.

Free-weight exercise
3 sets of up to 10 repetitions with 75% of their 1 rep max.

Push-up and push-up on a BOSU ball
3 sets of 20 reps.

Burpee & push-up w/ lateral crawl
3 sets of 10 reps.

Plank / battling rope circuit
3 sets of 30-second bouts.

• At the end of the study, oxygen consumption was significantly greatest during the battling rope and burpee protocols.

• For the free-weight exercises, highest average values were seen in the squat, deadlift, and lunge.

• No differences were observed between push-ups performed on the floor vs. on a BOSU ball. However, adding a lateral crawl to the push-up significantly increased mean oxygen consumption.

• The lowest mean value was seen during the plank exercise.

This data indicates performance of exercises with battling ropes and a body-weight burpee exercise elicit relatively higher acute metabolic demands than traditional resistance exercises performed with moderately heavy loading.

Ratamess NA, Rosenberg JG, Klei S, Dougherty BM, Kang J, Smith CR, Ross RE, Faigenbaum AD. Comparison of the acute metabolic responses to traditional resistance, body-weight, and battling rope exercises. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Jan;29(1):47-57

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