Top Five Best Overall Exercises for Fitness

As a personal trainer, I’m often asked what are the best exercises to achieve optimal fitness.  Done correctly and often, the following five exercises are at the top of the list and when combined, can create the best workout ever:

1. SQUATS.  My favorite by far and what I believe to be the best leg exercise, the squat is one of the most functional exercises (meaning, our bodies perform this movement naturally and on a daily basis) that you can do.   Additionally, performing squats produces an anabolic effect on your body.  Performing squats builds the legs muscles while simultaneously improving balance and mobility.  Additionally, because you are working the largest muscle groups, you are essentially burning calories at the most effective rate.

2. LUNGES.  Like the squat, lunges also work all the lower body’s muscle groups simultaneously.  So why add include this on my list?  Well, done right and on a regular basis, lunges will tighten and firm the glute muscles.  Simply put, who doesn’t want a firm butt?  In addition, lunges can help strengthen and stabilize the knees.

3. PUSH-UPS.  Oh, the dreaded push-up.  Why, you ask?  The push-up makes the list for several reasons.  Mainly, because it works your whole body at the same time.  If you want shapely arms, shoulders and a strong chest, and don’t want to spend hours at the gym trying to achieve this, work on perfecting this movement.  In our fast paced, multi-tasked world, rather than focus on what are the best shoulder exercises or the best arm exercises, incorporate this movement into your fitness routine.

4. PLANKS.  Looking for abs of steel?  Try the plank.  It works both the lower and upper abdomen, as well as your obliques and your lower back.  And, like the push up, it will also help build stronger shoulder, chest, and arms.

5. PULL-UPS.  Similar to the squat, which works your entire lower body, the pull-up does the same for your upper body.  Pull-ups help you build tremendous back strength, as well as working the rear shoulders and arms.    Although difficult for most women, by starting with an assisted machine at the gym or by placing a sturdy box under the pull up bar to lift you closer and shorten the distance you will need to pull up, you can work on progressing to a full pull up in time.

Article by Susan Kirkham

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