Top 5 Exercises To Maximize Results!
Are you looking for better RESULTS?! To get the biggest impact from your workout, it’s important to include the right exercises. There are hundreds of different workout techniques, countless different training styles and programs, and endless theories about which one is the most effective. The fitness world is ever changing and evolving. It can get down right confusing as to what you should be doing to get the results you seek. This article is intended to take some of the guess work out of the equation when it comes to how to maximize your results and get the most out of the time you put into your exercise program.
Let’s face it, our busy lifestyles make it hard to find a full hour or more to dedicate to a workout. So how can we get maximum results in the shortest amount of time? Use compound movements that recruit multiple muscle groups and joints. They not only save time in a workout, but they deliver the maximum caloric burn for the amount of time spent.
No matter what exercise program you prefer, there are 5 exercises that should never be left out. I include these into EVERY workout, in one form or another, no matter what. I feel that they are the basic fundamental movements that keep us strong and functional at any age. Although we NEED resistance training to increase strength, build lean muscle, & to keep our bone density strong, I highly recommend just using the best machine ever created: YOUR BODY! Let’s get started!
1. SQUATS. We do more “squats” in a day than you probably think. Getting in and out of a chair, up and down off the toilet, in and out of a car, are all perfect examples. Since we will always have the need to squat, we must train for it. Body weight squats are a great way to establish the triple flexion linkage of the lower load bearing joints (ankles, knees & hips). Loading up with excessive weights is not necessary to gain strength and mobility from squats. Use good old fashioned body weight for resistance & own the technique! Squats can be done in many variations from static (stationary), plyometric (jumping), offset (one leg elevated), single leg, and even supported on a wall such as Airbench (a.k.a. wall sits). If you have bad knees or hips, keep your squats modified with smaller movements. Combine a squat with an upper body movement to get even higher caloric burn! Training with squats will compliment the demands you place on your body every day as you get down to lift your child, pull weeds in the garden, and more.
2. LUNGES. If you walk, you lunge. Walking is just a very modified and simplified lunge. Incorporating lunge work into your training will help to strengthen the legs, improve balance, and sustain functional mobility. Just as with squats, body weight lunges are all the resistance you need to get started. Lunges can be done in static form while holding onto a stable object for simplicity, as well as dynamic (traveling) and plyometric (jumping) versions. The more explosive the movement, the more calories you will burn. Again, this split stance exercise can be modified with smaller range of motion for beginners or folks with bad knees and hips, or performed at higher intensity as conditioning allows. Training with lunges will improve performance of natural, everyday movements.
3. PUSH-UPS. This is one of the oldest and most effective exercises that uses all of the muscles of the upper body and links them to the lower body by engaging the hips. Not only does this exercise build optimal strength, it also increases the metabolism as physical exertion forces the heart to work harder to pump blood faster. No machine can quite capture the real strength used in a push-up. You can do these in countless forms. A few of my favorites include incline (elevated), decline, offset (one hand higher than the other), and even plyometric (adding explosive movement). If you don’t have the upper body strength to perform a full push-up, use an elevated surface such as a counter top or bench to lighten the load. Pushups are one of the few universally recognized exercises…all over the world, everyone knows what they are! You just never know when you might be required to use this strength in every day life, for instance if you take a fall and need to get back up.
4. PULL-UPS & CHIN-UPS. A multi-joint exercise that again recruits multiple muscle groups to build and improve upper body strength and grip strength by lifting and lowering your bodyweight. Pull-ups & Chin-ups work every muscle of the upper body & improves posture. Although we may not have to lift and lower ourselves on a daily basis, we do have to lift and lower objects into closets, onto shelves, and in/out of the car. This functional exercise requires no equipment, and can be done at any modified level. If you do not have access to a pull-up bar, try using the monkey bars/jungle gym on a playground, the edge of a deck, or my favorite, the TRX (suspension trainer). Modified versions of this can be done with the feet on the ground to allow the lower body to support as much of your body weight as needed to perform the movement.
5. SPRINTS. Adding sprints into your workouts is a great way to increase intensity and push yourself. Sprints are the ultimate fat burning and muscle building activity. Not only can this burst of activity take you back to your childhood (when sprints were a natural every day occurrence), but the interval training of sprints helps to build endurance as well as boost hormone profiles. If that is not reason enough to add them to your routine, maybe the strength and muscle building power of this exercise will. Unlike other exercises that build bulky legs, sprinting will build lean muscle mass in the legs, core and even the shoulders and arms. Even if you are not a runner or you’re unable to run sprints, incorporate faster interval training into your walks. Sprinting is simply moving fast…whatever that means for YOU! If you don’t have pain, GO FOR IT! Training with sprints can help you be ready for the time you need to sprint to save yourself, a child or a pet from danger.
The best thing about these 5 exercises is that they can be done anywhere. You don’t need a gym or any fancy equipment. For best results with any exercise program, I recommend that you exercise at least 4 days per week. Always allow for at least one day of total rest, as your body needs to be able to recover and rejuvenate muscle tissue and fibers. Try to keep your tempo elevated during strength and cardio workouts in order to get the maximum caloric burn for your time spent. Create as much variety as you can from one day to the next to keep the workouts from getting stale and to create muscle confusion for maximum results. If you’re unsure where to start, or worry about proper technique & intensity…stop by TFW Greensboro for a FREE strategy session so we can help you determine what’s best for you and give you the tools you need to succeed!
“Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can do.” ~John Wooden