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5 Exercises for Non Athletes Featured

5 Exercises for the Non-Athlete

by Tanner Neuberger, PT, DPT, TDN Level 1Leave a Comment

Here at Athletico, we have an extensive blog catalog about different exercises and applications for various ailments. Within this blog, I will highlight exercises for non-athletes. Honestly, everyone is an athlete in some form, and certain exercises can be tailored to help reach specific goals.

Different Types of Exercises, Explained

When viewing different exercises, they’re all the same in their basic form: physical activity. If we want to be a little more specific, there are two categories that we can classify certain exercises: GPP and SPP.

GPP stands for General Physical Preparedness and refers to exercises that build up your overall capacity to perform work. Examples include resistance training, running, conditioning, etc.

SPP stands for Specific Physical Preparedness (or, in some circles, Sports-Specific Physical Preparedness), and this refers to the specific skills demonstrated on the playing field for athletes. Examples include sprinting, jumping, sport-specific drills, throwing, etc.

We will look at our exercises through a GPP lens. I will recommend exercises based on human movement patterns as this can help increase your muscle size and contribute to a strong, well-rounded physique. It will also prepare you for just about any physical situation that gets thrown your way. Ensure that you are doing your due diligence with these movement patterns (practice the movements, talk with other trainers/gym-goers, record videos of yourself to check your form) to ensure that you are performing them correctly. Consult the help of an Athletico physical therapist if you are unsure if you are performing these exercises correctly. A sample workout would include one exercise from all the movement patterns, performed 2-4 times per week.


Almost everyone goes through a movement pattern daily, mostly to sit down on a surface or stand up from one. It is a basic pattern that is consistently incorporated into our lives. Options for exercises to use with this pattern are:

  • Barbell Squats
  • Smith Machine Squats
  • Front Squats
  • Leg Press
  • Hack Squat
  • Sit-To-Stands from a chair

The quadriceps and glutes are the most targeted muscles with these exercises, but the degree of emphasis and involvement of other musculature is based on which variation you chose. Perform 3-4 sets of 6-10 challenging repetitions with this movement pattern.

Hip Hinge

Have you ever had to pick up something off the floor? This movement pattern will help you perform this action better, engaging your glutes and hamstrings to control the forward motion of the trunk. This movement may also be beneficial to provide relief to those with back pain. Options for exercises to use with this pattern are:

  • Romanian Deadlifts
  • Conventional Deadlifts
  • Good Mornings
  • Sumo Deadlifts
  • Stiff-Legged Deadlifts

As stated before, this should target the glutes and hamstrings, as a primary movement of the pattern is hip extension. Perform 3-4 sets of 6-10 challenging repetitions with this movement pattern.


The following movement pattern can be split into two categories, horizontal push, and vertical push. We will be using our upper body musculature to push an object away from us. Functionally, this pattern will help train the ability to push objects and reach high on shelves, to name just a few tasks. Horizontal pushing options are:

  • Barbell Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Machine Bench Press
  • Hammer Press

Vertical pushing options are:

  • Barbell Overhead Press
  • Seated Dumbbell Press
  • Dumbbell Incline Press
  • Hammer Incline Press
  • Machine Shoulder Press

Targeted muscles with this pattern are the pectorals, deltoids, and triceps. Perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 challenging repetitions with this movement pattern.


Like the push movement, we can split our pull movement into two categories, vertical pulling and horizontal pulling. With this movement pattern, we will be pulling an object towards us and from various positions. Horizontal pulling options are:

  • Barbell Bent-Over Row
  • Machine Row
  • Cable Row
  • T-Bar Row
  • Hammer Row
  • Dumbbell Row

Vertical pulling options are:

  • Pull-ups/Chin-ups
  • Pulldowns
  • Straight-Arm Pulldowns
  • Machine Pulldown

Targeted muscles with this pattern are the latissimus dorsi and the biceps; however other back muscles will be emphasized more when performing horizontal vs. vertical pulling. Perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 challenging repetitions with this movement pattern.


The final movement pattern is a straightforward one. You will carry an object for a selected distance and repetition count. When imagining this exercise, think about trying to carry in all your groceries in one trip, and that’s an excellent way to get started. Options for carrying are:

  • Farmer Walks
  • Suitcase Carry
  • Waiter Carry
  • Overhead Carry
  • Medball Carry

As long as you are carrying an object with palpable weight, you are on the right track. Perform 4-6 sets of 30 – 60ft carry distance with this movement pattern.

Consult a Physical Therapist

As with all our recommendations, if you have more questions or struggle to put together an exercise regime with the above categories, reach out to your local Athletico to set up your Free Assessment with one of our experts today. Free Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.

Request a Free Assessment

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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