How do you choose the exercises that make up your workouts? When it comes to weight loss and improving body composition, exercise selection is key to getting results. To help you maximize results, we’ve narrowed down a handful of movements that should be an integral part of your workout routine, pending physical limitations.
Planks or any variation originating from the plank position. The plank is a foundational exercise that builds core strength and stability. A strong core allows you to handle more weight and more reps. A strong core helps you maintain proper form and protects your spine from injury. A strong core improves natural biomechanics and posture. Should I keep going? If you’ve mastered the basic plank, try this variation: Lay on your side with your bottom arm bent 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearm and feet. Reach your top arm towards the ceiling and hold this position. If this is too easy, raise your top leg or hold a dumbbell with your free arm.
The Deadlift. There aren’t many exercises that elicit as much muscle recruitment as the deadlift. A proper deadlifts uses the legs, hips, core, back, shoulders, and arms as well as many stabilizing muscles in-between. If you practice the deadlift frequently you know that a proper deadlift allows you to move large amounts of weight in relation to other exercises. But the deadlift’s benefits go far beyond maximal muscle recruitment. By deadlifting challenging loads, you are supporting the hormonal response that leads to a leaner and tighter body. To perform a deadlift, step up to a weighted barbell with shins nearly touching the bar and feet hip to shoulder width apart. Squat down toward the bar as you keep your heels firmly planted while maintaining a natural curve through your back. Grasp the bar slightly wider than shoulder width and tense your body. As you lift the weight, push your feet into the floor while exhaling. Be sure to keep the bar close to the body as you lift. Maintain your posture throughout the lift, keeping tension through your shoulder blades as you rise to the top position. Control the weight back down to the floor and repeat.
The Kettlebell Swing. Like the deadlift, the kettlebell swing recruits numerous muscles but also adds the challenge of controlling the power you create. It’s a ballistic movement that improves aerobic and anaerobic capacity, power, stability, and even posture by working the posterior muscle chain. The kettlebell swing is a tough exercise, so start light and work your way up. To perform, take a shoulder width foot position over the top of a kettlebell. Squat down while inhaling and maintain your natural posture. Grab the kettlebell with both hands, tighten your core, and make sure your heels are firmly planted. As you stand up, exhale and force your hips forward while straightening your legs and allow that force to move up through your arms to swing the kettlebell upward to an overhead position. Keep control as the kettlebell swings back down between your legs and repeat.
The Push-up. When done correctly, the push-up is an incredibly versatile exercise. It requires upper body strength and core stability as well muscular and cardiovascular endurance. It can be done anywhere because you always have the resistance in your own body weight with no special tools required. Assume a traditional push-up position with hands shoulder width apart. Bend your elbows and drop towards the floor as you keep your body rigid. Shoulders should be forward of your hands at all times. Push back to the top and repeat. To increase the intensity, push up with force so your hands leave the floor between reps.
Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups. Pulling your body weight upwards against gravity is one of the toughest exercises but also elicits some of the greatest results. Grasp an overhead bar with a wide overhand grip for the pull-up or a narrow underhand grip for the chin-up. Pull your body upward until your chin clears the bar. Lower yourself back down until your arms are almost fully extended. Repeat for as many times as possible. If you can’t perform a traditional pull-up you still have some options. Simply use an assisted pull-up machine or set a bar low enough that allows your feet to remain on the floor at all times. Perform the pull-up as described, but push with your legs as you pull with your arms. Any way you try it, the pull-up/chin-up will have numerous benefits.
So for maximal results, choose exercises that have the greatest impact on making your body change. You will soon see and feel the difference.