There are a lot of things you can do at the gym or at home to get fitter, stronger, leaner or more ripped. I’ve found that there is somewhat of a paradox when talking about the best exercises in that the best ones are the ones that you will actually do AND if you do the same thing over and over it will cease being effective. You need variety to confuse your muscles and to attain continuing advances in fitness. That being said, there are some moves that are just great go-to exercises because they challenge multiple muscles and because they’re just hard (that is the scientific term – promise). After consulting with my expert and arguing with him about every one because I hate them, here are the top 5:
Yuck. But oh, so good for you. If you can only do modified pushups, keep trying to do them properly. If you can only do 1/20, try for 2, then 3. You get the idea. These are great for your chest, triceps, back, shoulders and core.
Yuck. If you’re like me you hang like a sack of stunned puppies from the pull up bar, possibly feebly kicking your legs to no avail. These are so great for you though, and really work your upper body. There are bands you can get to assist you until you build the strength and if you keep trying you will eventually be able to do them. And then, if you are ever in monkey bar
wars in adulthood (or a tough mudder) you will not be humiliated as an added bonus.
Squats are absolutely phenomenal to work out your quads and core. Good form is critical to make sure you’re protecting your back, but make sure you include these in your workout routine. You can add curls with dumbbells or go full bore with the Olympic bar for max booty building.
If you don’t mind doing lunges chances are you are probably not doing them correctly. A proper lunge, or reverse lunge, has the effect of making your leg muscles feel like they’re on fire. A lot of people don’t go down far enough, and if you have knee problems this might not be the best move for you, but otherwise, lunge away.
Yuck, yuck, yuck. I hated burpees before I even knew how to do them correctly (proper burpees contain a pushup AND a jump…what the heck!). These engage pretty much every muscles that matter and also are a great cardio move. No downside to burpees except that they suck.
So that’s the top five. Sigh. I wish it were different, too. The good news is the more you do them, the less you ‘ll hate them (and the better you’ll look).