Desert Island Fitness


Let’s play Desert Island!

You know what I’m talking about right? You’ve probably played this game with your friends, family, or even your spouse. It goes something like, “If you were stranded on a desert island, what [insert number] things would you have with you and why?”

Typical answers include:

  • Flint and Steel
  • Knife
  • Fishing Line/Net
  • Flippers
  • Snorkel
  • Rope
  • Compass
  • Tent
  • Canteen
  • Raincoat/Jacket
  • Sunscreen

The best aspect of this game is that it can be adjusted to accommodate any subject/topic. For example, you can play Desert Island Movies, Desert Island Books, Desert Island Foods, etc. The possibilities are endless, and it’s likely that you’ve played countless variations of the game, but have you ever thrown fitness into the mix?

If you could only do five exercises for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?

Maybe you’re someone who loves powerlifting and all you need are the Squat, Deadlift, and Bench Press. Maybe you’re a weightlifter who can’t live without the Snatch, Clean, and Jerk. Maybe you’re a bodybuilder who lives and dies by split routines and isolation exercises. Or maybe you’re a Crossfitter who needs a little bit of everything. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, if you’re a fellow fitness enthusiast, this variation of Desert Island will become your new favorite, but do us a favor, don’t be the guy/gal who brings this up at birthday parties and holidays…no one likes that guy/gal.

Considering that we’ve developed multiple training programs, each with very specific intentions, it was difficult to determine the standards for our Desert Island Fitness list. After much deliberation, we decided to select the five exercises that we believe would cultivate the most functional and comprehensive fitness across a lifetime. For each exercise, we’ve included a brief explanation as to why we chose that movement, as well as the associated benefits/potential adaptations.

1. Clean and Jerk

Why the Clean and Jerk?

  • Develops power and strength
  • Trains core-to-extremity muscle recruitment, speed, coordination, accuracy, and balance
  • Teaches the body to safely and effectively express large and sudden forces (one of the hallmarks of athleticism)
  • Teaches the individual how to manipulate and receive external loads

2. Deadlift

Why the Deadlift?

  • Hinge exercise that trains and develops muscular strength, especially in the posterior chain
  • Demands core strength and stability
  • Cultivates the capacity to safely and effectively lift objects from the floor, thus enhancing functionality and longevity

3. Front Rack Lunge

Why the Front Rack Lunge?

  • Unilateral loading of the lower body
  • Develops strength, balance, and coordination
  • Front Rack position demands core stability and trains the ability support external load

4. Pull-up

Why the Pull-up?

  • Trains and develops upper body pulling, both muscular strength and endurance
  • Real-life application (i.e. functional) – getting out of a pool, climbing up and over a wall, etc.
  • Prerequisite for advanced bodyweight exercises

5. Dip

Why the Dip?

  • Trains and develops upper body pressing, both muscular strength and endurance
  • One of the few exercises that require the shoulders to internally rotate and extend
  • Real-life application (i.e. functional) – if you have the capacity to perform a dip, that means you have the ability to press your body off the floor, press yourself into a supported position at the top of a wall or object in order to climb over, etc.
  • Prerequisite for advanced bodyweight exercises

Honorable Mentions

  • L-Sit
  • Assault Bike
  • Burpee

So, to recap, our five exercises are as follows:

  1. Clean and Jerk
  2. Deadlift
  3. Front Rack Lunge
  4. Pull-up
  5. Dip

Now it’s your turn!

Take a moment, think it through and if necessary, consult your training partner. If you could only do five exercises for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?

Send us an email, shoot us a DM, or post on our Facebook! We want to hear from you!


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