As I’m sure you have noticed, there are a lot of exercises out there. It can easily get overwhelming if you aren’t familiar with which ones are most effective. To help clarify, here are the top 8 exercises to add into your routine and my opinion on why.
Not all exercises are created equal. Some exercises isolate only one muscle group, like a concentration curl, which focuses mainly on the bicep. While not necessarily a bad thing, this exercise might not be ideal to focus on if you are limited with time and frequency to workout. The best exercises to focus on are called compound exercises. Compound exercises work numerous muscles when performed. By doing compound exercises, you are getting more bang for your buck. Instead of doing 5 separate isolation exercises to work your upper body, you can do a push-up and work them all.
If you are a person who LOVES weight training, you may be getting five weight training work outs per week. If this is the case, you have a little more breathing room and can add in more isolation exercises to your routine. If you are pressed for time and work out only 3 times per week, then these exercises can help get all the muscles in your body exercise in a smaller block of time.
Now on to the 8 exercises:
First, the Squat which works the quadriceps, calves, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. Squats are a functional exercise meaning it will help make your daily life activities more efficient.
The second exercise is the Push-up. This exercise works the chest, shoulders and triceps. Push-ups have been shown to be one of the best exercises in preventing shoulder injuries as well as lower back injuries.
The third exercise, the Chest Press, works the chest, shoulders and triceps as well. The chest press will not only strengthen your muscles, it also has the potential to increase bone density.
Fourth, the Lunge. Quadriceps, calves, glutes and hamstrings are worked in this exercise. Lunges improve balance and stability because it is performed with the legs working independently from one another.
Next is the Pull-up. This works the lats, biceps, and middle back muscles. Pull-ups are thought to be one of the toughest exercises out there. It is best to work your way up to it by starting with a "dead hang" which is just hanging from the bar with straight arms for a length of time.
At six is Deadlifts. This works a lot of muscles. The lower back, calves, forearms, glutes, hamstrings, lats, middle back, quadriceps, and traps all get used for this exercise. Deadlifts also increase your core strength leading to overall better posture.
Seventh we have the Overhead Shoulder Press which works the shoulders and triceps. The shoulder press indirectly increases core stabilization especially when performed standing up.
And lastly, at number eight, we have Bent Over Rows. These work the middle back, biceps, shoulders and lats. When performed correctly, rows will also strengthen your lower back.