Yes everyone, it’s Top 10 time again!
In a previous post I ran through what I feel are the Top 10: Most Worthless Exercises , so this time around, I’m listing what I consider to be “must haves” in an exercise program.
The list reflects exercises that I feel have the most benefit and deliver big results. Who wants to spend time on exercises that produce little change, when you can pull out the big guns and kick some butt?
Here we go…
1. Squat - This had to be number one, as it effectively works every muscle in your body. It’s long been said that if you could only perform one exercise, chose squats. They target your entire legs, lower and upper back, shoulders, and build a great foundation of strength. Plus, they provide cardiovascular conditioning as well – just ask anyone that’s done a series of 20 or so drop sets.
2. Pallof Press - This exercises is included in my HardCORE Workout, and is a great exercise to effectively work the core. Too many people are focused on getting a six-pack and consequently perform a lot of abdominal exercises, thinking that they’re also training the core. This exercise works the core by stopping the twisting of your torso under load. It was invented and named after a physical therapist, and I personally use it regularly.
3. One Legged Deadlift – Most people suffer from deconditioned glutes and lower backs from the grind of day-to-day life. This movement provides multiple benefits; it strengthens those weakened areas, works the hamstrings, glutes and lower back, provides hip and knee stabilization, and improves balance by enhancing your ability to focus. Another favorite of mine.
4. Pullups – These seem to be many peoples nemesis. Do you know why? Because they’re damn hard! Like other hard tasks, they produce tremendous benefits. I like to stagger my grips; using one under handed, and one over for added stimulus. You can use modified versions with the TRX, a low bar on a Smith machine or try the good old fashioned kind! They all work your large back muscles, shoulders, biceps and demand max effort.
5. Jump Rope - I love jump rope! It’s a fantastic cardiovascular workout and improves your hand-eye coordination. And once you master it you can skip, run, double jump, cross and incorporate all sorts of interesting and challenging movements. The really great thing is that improvements come quickly; I started with just 30-second intervals and can now perform various kinds of jumping for minutes on end. Start with 30 seconds and plan to improve!
6. Kettlebell Hip Drive – When performed correctly, these bad boys are cardio conditioning supreme and really target that deconditioned glute/lower back area once again. They also strengthen your shoulders, arms, and legs as the entire movement is very similar to a squat. If you want glutes of steel, this should be included in your routine.
7. Swiss Ball Pikes – I love my abdominal training as much as the next person, but traditional crunches can be a bit boring and one dimensional. Pikes require a great deal of shoulder and arm strength, in addition to core and abdominal strength, so you’re working a lot of muscle groups at once. You can try barrel rolls as well, where you turn sideways and pull the ball in to really target the obliques. Don’t worry, I’ll post a video soon.
8. Burpee’s – These guys live up to their name and will make you start burping just before you throw up! But, they provide awesome conditioning. Different trainers have varied versions. Mine is a squat thrust-pushup-jump squat all in one neat little package. I’m known for using kettlebells as well and doing a shoulder press in place of the jump squat. These are total body conditioning and will truly elevate your fitness level. Try just a few to start out and add one more each week.
9. Dips - I’m a fan of any exercise in which multiple muscle groups have to work to accomplish a task. And dips don’t disappoint. Similar to pullups in that you must lift your entire bodyweight, but this time pressing instead of pulling. Your chest, shoulders and triceps get an amazing workout. If you can’t do the traditional type, look for the machines that assist you and subtract some of your weight or stand on a box and assist yourself.
10. 100 Meter Sprints – You all know I’m not a fan of long distance running, but I’ll sprint any day of the week! At one point I worked up to 20-100 meter sprints with 30 seconds rest between. It’s fun, works your entire body, as it requires tremendous effort, and burns a ridiculous amount of calories. I go to a track, but you can use a treadmill for 20-second clips, run in place, or sprint from one mailbox to the next in your neighborhood.
Ok, so that’s my Top 10 list. Of course there are other terrific movements but these are the exercises that I recommend all of my friends and clients to use, so try plugging them in somewhere in your current routine, or use them all together in a stand-alone workout! As I’ve said before there’s no rules.
And if you’re unfamiliar with any of these movements, head over to FitStudio and look for the video demonstrations where you’ll find examples of how to perform them all.
So what do you think of my list? Do you have other exercises to add? Or are you using one of these already? Let me know.
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