You already know a good workout routine is essential to your overall health and wellbeing. But even if you’re a dedicated gym rat, you may not be maximising your potential if you’re not incorporating these five essential exercises.
When designing your exercise program, you probably have a few goals in mind – losing weight, building muscle, boosting metabolism, and improving mobility, for example.
These five essential exercises do all the above, and more. They are very, very functional, which means they’ll help you train your muscles to efficiently perform the movements you make as part of your daily life, from carrying and lifting things to walking upstairs. After all, what’s the point in spending all that time in the gym to look great if you can’t perform well?
They’re also progressive exercises, which means you can constantly find ways to improve and challenge yourself, no matter how fit you get. You can start easy as a beginner and as you become fitter, you can increase your weight load or vary the movements to make it harder.
This brilliant all-rounder should be a staple in your workout because of all the benefits it unleashes. It builds strength and mobility in your hips, legs, butt and back; it’ll help you drop weight; it can even help with testosterone production. The most important thing, though, is to make sure you have proper form, or you won’t get the full range of benefits. Combine goblet squats with lateral squats to work through the full range of motion across the sagittal and frontal planes.
Another great all-rounder, the deadlift is a simple yet highly functional and effective exercise. Essentially, all you’re doing is picking up a barbell from the ground, lifting it to hip height, then
This tough but essential exercise is great for strengthening your core, increasing spinal stability and easing back pain. You may not even realise how much you use your core every day for even the most basic movements, but this is exactly why core strength is so important – without it, you’ll find simple things like walking, pushing a shopping trolley or getting out of bed difficult. As always, form is important – make sure your core is fully engaged by keeping your hips lifted and back in a neutral line.
The gluteus maximum (that’d be your ass) is the biggest muscle in your body, so you really should be training it hard. It’s the biggest metabolic zone in your body, and it drives almost all athletic movement at some level, so the more you train your glutes, the better your overall fitness (and endurance) will be. Start with just using your body weight and doing one or two sets of ten to twenty reps; once you’ve mastered this, move onto shoulder-elevated thrusts, or add in barbells or band resistance to step up your game.
By now, you should already know that working your legs is just as important as working other parts of your body, and step-ups are a great way of incorporating some functional training. This unilateral (single leg) exercise will resolve weakness and imbalances between both sides of your body; make you a better walker and runner; even allow you to easily climb the steps and staircases you encounter every day. All you need is a box high enough that it forms 90-degree angles at your ankle, knee and hip at the beginning and end of the movement. Start with five-minute sets, using just your bodyweight and alternating sides, then work your way up to sets of 10 reps per side while holding dumbbells.
Click here for more wellness tips and how-tos.