By Ed Shepherd CHC, CPT
There are lots of exercises, but do you know which exercises are the best ones for a full-body workout?In general, I believe to earn the title “best” it will have to be an easy-to-learn exercise that targets multiple muscle groups and gives you the practical strength and muscle tone to meet your fitness goals, and exercises that don’t require fancy, expensive equipment earn extra credit.Here are my seven of the best exercises for athletes and you fitness junkies looking for a simple and effective full-body workout.
The push-up may be old school, but it’s effective. You probably first introduced to a push-up in elementary school, and it works a wide range of muscles though primarily targeting the chest, triceps and core. There are many variations and you can take your pick but just make sure you include them in your routine. When you do, avoid these three common mistakes when doing push-ups:• hands are too high and wide. It makes the push-up easier because the pec fiber is able to produce strength and does not “force” the triceps to work • sagging hips which is caused by the inadequate strength of the core to stabilize their pelvis. This makes the body lighter • half push-ups or when people don’t go all the way down. The bottom portion is when the body is at its heaviest because you are nearer to the source of gravity and lacks the lock that the elbows provide at the top portion
The squat is another classic exercise that is especially beneficial to the lower body. Squats primarily work the hips, quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. It also strengthens your core and even your upper body when you use weights.Once you’re comfortable with doing squats, you can increase the difficulty by adding weights. Try holding dumbbells at shoulder level or use a barbell across your shoulders. You can also use one dumbbell; (Goblet squat) hold it in front of you with both hands while squatting. It’s especially important to maintain proper form, keep your knees aligned with your feet and don’t squat beyond the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor.Squat exercises are a motion that your body uses often in real life. Whenever you bend down to pick something up, you’ll be thankful that, because of your squat exercise routine, you’ll have the strength and flexibility to get the job done.
This brilliantly simple exercise does triple duty by extensively targeting the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes most intensely, but also hits the calves and core.Like most exercises, lunges can be executed in various ways. The traditional lunge is completed in a stationary position working one leg at a time, but try walking lunges. Pick a target several feet away and lunge your way toward it and then back.Like squats, lunges will: • Tone the Legs • Lift the Butt • Strengthen the Core • Increase Flexibility
The deadlift is an old school lift that builds total-body strength. It’s a gimme for the best-exercise title, but it does come with risks. The wrong technique can injure the back, so it’s important to keep it flat throughout the lift. When executed correctly it will strengthen your back, calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, forearms and core.The lift is simple and with proper focus and attention to technique it can be completed without injury. The goal is to pick up a weighted bar off the ground and bring it to your thighs using your whole body. The completion will have you standing up, your arms straight with the weight hanging.The deadlift is effective at building strength because the inert weight starts on the ground and must be lifted up in a controlled movement. The lifter doesn’t have a chance to use any momentum, hence the “dead” name.
Clean and Jerk
The clean and jerk is an explosive lift that targets a lot of useful muscles and is a multi-joint exercise that is considered the ultimate test of strength in the Olympic Games.Olympic lifters do the clean and the jerk as one complex lift but us amateurs can do them separately. Begin by snapping the weight to the torso until your arms are under the bar. Then in an explosive movement, push the bar over your head.There’s a reason this single exercise is labeled the total-body workout. The list is long – quadriceps, hamstrings, biceps, triceps, the back, and core and calves are all engaged during this straightforward exercise. No matter what your hoping to build, the clean and jerk will probably be a great addition to your training.
Most gym “machines” are devises that target single muscles that isolate some while neglecting others, not so with the rowing machine.It’s hard to find a cardio machine that works your body harder than an indoor rower. It requires equal effort from your upper and lower body, extreme cardiovascular fitness, and ridiculous muscular endurance to blast out rep after rep.And it’s great for fat loss, too. Rowing burns calories rapidly, making it a suitable addition to your workout regimen if weight loss is your chief priority. A vigorous workout on a rowing machine can burn about 377 calories in 30 minutes for an individual who weighs 185 pounds, notes Harvard Health Publications. Frequent rowing can help you work toward the calorie deficit that is integral to weight loss.
You won’t be bored when you do circuit training. This workout gets your heart rate up and strengthens your muscles at the same time.You’ll move quickly through 8-10 exercise stations to work different muscle groups with little to no rest between stations. Each station has a different exercise. You may do bicep curls to an overhead press or even jump rope. The possibilities are endless.You’ll do about 10-25 reps at each station, lasting one minute, and then move on to the next station.Allow about 10 minutes for slow paced worm-up or complete a full High Intensity workout lasting 30-minutes. If you’re new to the moves, work with a trainer or take a class so you learn how to do each exercise right.Push yourself as hard or as easy as you want. If you want to make it more challenging, switch from station to station faster or boost the intensity. Or you can work out at a more comfortable pace.To keep things interesting, you can switch up the sequence, swap out different stations, and use different equipment like medicine balls, dumbbells and resistance bands, or by alternating push-ups and squats.