We all know that exercising daily is the key to keeping yourself fit and strong. But how do you know what you should and should not be doing?
With so many options and an unlimited variety of exercises available on the internet, it's confusing to know what really works and what doesn’t. Well, fret not. I’ve got your back (and legs, arms, chest, and shoulders too, not to forget abs).
Whether you have never stepped into a gym in your life or it is your second home, I’ve put together a list of 10 different must-do exercises that will set your body on fire and whip you into shape! Stick with the basics and realize your body changing and clothes fitting for the better.
If you’re packed for time and only have 5 minutes, squat! Squats are one of my favorite leg exercises. They strengthen your lower body and core, while working your lower back and hips too. Because your legs are the largest muscle group in your body, they also burn a whole lot of calories.
One of the most basic yet highly effective bodyweight exercise due to the number of muscles required to perform them. Not only do they engage the muscles in your upper body (chest, shoulders and arms) but also your core and glutes, if performed correctly.
Standing military press
Another upper body exercise that works several muscles at once! Being a form of shoulder press, performing it standing and with your feet closer together forces your upper back and core muscles to work alongside your shoulders. Do this exercise prior to wearing that sleeveless, halter neck dress for your fancy night out and you’ll be turning heads.
If you want to build up your muscular endurance you’re just a couple of swings away. Kettlebell swings build strength in your hamstrings, lower back, hips, core and help improve your lung capacity too. Try different variations of the swing to challenge your muscles in different ways.
Single-Leg Deadlifts (SLDL)
Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with them SLDLs. Single leg exercises like these challenge your balance. They have a reputation for being both physically and mentally demanding. Requiring a fair bit of stability and leg strength, start with a light to a moderate set of dumbbells if you are already able to perform the move well with your own bodyweight.
I LOVE BURPEES… said no one ever. Well, the ones we usually start off hating are usually the best ones. A total body exercise that will get your heart rate up, burpees are a great way to up your cardiovascular and muscular strength. Definitely one to throw into your workout routine because, why not?
Bulgarian split squats
Somewhat like a lunge but with one of your legs elevated, this is another single leg hard banger that puts your balancing skills to the test. I usually put it at the start of my workout routine so I know the hardest part is over. Add on light to moderately weighted dumbbells once you’re fully comfortable with the movement.
Having a strong core is the key to eliminating all sorts of problems like lower back aches. It is not only the first step toward that hour glass figure, but it also makes any workout a whole lot easier. Your mid-section is the foundation to a healthy body, just like a meat patty is to its buns. Strengthening our obliques is part of developing a stronger core. A big part of this move focuses on controlled, mind-muscle connection.
A farfetched goal to have, many would think. If you are one of the many, cut that thought. You can do whatever you set your mind to, as long as you work towards it. Back and core strengthening exercises, along with a drop in body fat supplementing lean muscle growth will get you to your first pull up. It gets a lot easier from then on. Patience. Start with doing inclined or assisted pull ups and improving your grip strength. Every progressive step counts, even if it’s just holding on to the bar and lasting as long as you can while hanging!
Here’s one of my favorites which I’ve saved for last, simply because it’s functional AF. With us bending down and picking up stuff every single day, often of heavy load and risking injuring our lower back, performing deadlifts in the correct form is the best method to save us from that agony. A compound move that strengthens our quads, hamstrings, glutes, and lowers back, it also helps us improve our strength and hip stability. It engages muscles you use in your daily lives to bend and lift, and basically just makes mundane tasks a whole lot easier.
Spice it up?
These fundamental moves work your body and give you a good sweat. But how do you keep pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and make progress? Spice it up!
Add on the jump to the exercise, like for squats, lunges, and even split squats.
Increase the number of reps
Pile on the weight!
You can also change things up by using a time-under-tension method. Instead of counting the number of reps, you would be doing as many reps as you can under a specific time limit. This allows you to challenge yourself, using the number of reps completed per set as a gauge of your improvement.