What do you want from your workouts? If you really think about it, you probably want an exercise that’s brief, effective, easy to follow, and fun, or at least a workout that is not too dull and addresses more than one area of fitness to save you some time. If that’s what you’re searching for, there are specific exercises you’ll want to include in your routines. Here are five powerful workouts for training your complete body:
Why They Rock: Squats train just about every muscle in the lower body, including the glutes, hips, thighs, and calves. Not only that, it’s a movement we do routinely throughout the day, so integrating it in your workouts will add some utility to your training.
How To: Stand with feet hip-width apart and toes looking straight ahead or inclined slightly outward. Slowly bend the knees and squat, sending the hips back behind you while keeping your body straight and abs pulled in tight. Don’t let your knees cave inward. Make sure they continue to trace over your second and third toes as you lower yourself into a squat. Squat as low as you can and push into your heels to stand up.
Why They Rock: Push-ups, like squats, are compound actions employing practically all the muscles of your body. You’ll work your chest, shoulders, triceps, back, and abs all while developing your upper body strength.
How To: Get into a plank position—hands wider than shoulders and balancing on the toes or, for a modification, on the knees. Your body should be in a straight line from head to knees/heels. Slowly bend your arms and lower your body to the floor, maintaining your neck straight and moving all the way down until your chest meets the floor. Finish by pushing yourself back up to the complete plank position.
Why They Rock: Like squats, lunges work majority of the muscles in your legs, including your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
How to Do It: Start in a standing position. Step forward with one leg and lower into a lunge position, keeping the front and rear knees at 90-degree angles. Step back to standing and repeat on other leg. Do this exercise two to three times a week for 12 to 16 reps.
4. The Plank
Why It Rocks: The plank (or hover) is an isolation technique used in Pilates and yoga and works the abs, back, arms, and legs. The plank also targets your internal abdominal muscles.
How to Do It: Lie face down on the mat with your elbows resting on the floor next to your chest. Push your body off the floor in a pushup stance with your body resting on your elbows or hands. Contract the abs and keep the body in a straight line from head to toes. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat as many times as you can. For beginners, try this technique on your knees and gradually work your way up to balancing on your toes.
5. Lat Pulldown
Why It Rocks: The lat pulldown focuses on the primary muscles of your back (the latissimus dorsii), which helps you burn calories and, of course, strengthen your back.
How to Do It: Sit on the lat pulldown machine and grip the bar with your arms wider than your shoulders. Pull your abs in and lean back slightly. Bend your elbows and draw the bar down towards your chin, working the outer muscles of your back. Do this exercise two to three times a week using enough weight to accomplish 12 to 16 repetitions. If you don’t have access to a gym, attempt a one-armed row.
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