Ever heard of the standing 1-legged rotating cork screw? You grab a medicine ball, stand on one leg then rotate the ball from above your head towards your supporting leg’s shin, repeat the movement for the other side. With that movement, you have successfully targeted your quads and glutes, your erectors, rotators, deltoids, traps and abdominals. Wonderful exercise. If you have the proper mechanics down right and if you have developed enough balance, strength and flexibility to do it without falling face flat to the mat.
Sometimes, we try things because it looks cool or because this certain celebrity does that. I’m not saying what you’re seeing is wrong, I’m just saying that what you see may be just the end-result of a long, on-going program. There are fundamentals that have to be mastered before you can try to lift 2 kettle bells over your head and then proceeding to just blow everyone’s mind. Not only are these exercises important and very effective, they can also be easily modified to make things less or more challenging.
1. Push ups – Push ups are still, in my opinion the best upper body exercise. Sure you can carry more weight with the bench press, but you can’t target your abs as much as with a push up. I targets your chest, triceps, front deltoids, abdominals, back muscles, and glutes. You can make it easier by putting your knees down, or harder by countless ways (one foot up, one handed, inclined, etc)
2. Squats – When it comes to lower body exercise, the squat and the dead lift take the top 2 prizes. What’s great about the squat is that it mimics one of the most fundamental human tasks: standing up. It hits your glutes, quads, back muscles, shoulders and abdominals. Modify it by adding a box to sit on or by using your own body weight as resistance. Make it harder by using one leg, adding more weight or by going straight to a hop, jump, or leap.
3. Pull ups – Gotta have balance. If you have the ultimate upper body push exercise in the push up, then the pull up is the ultimate upper body pull exercise. And girls, don’t be too scared of the pull up, it can be modified so that your feet are touching the floor and the pull becomes slightly horizontal. It hits your lats, biceps, forearms, abdominals and deltoids.
4. Deadlift – The deadlift is one of the best exercises for the hamstring glutes and lower back or what we call, the “posterior chain”. These are the muscled involved in most extension movements. Simply put, these are the muscles that are responsible for you standing up. So it makes sense to work these muscles right? Even if you don’t see them in the mirror. Modify the dead lift by using one leg (as pictured), adding weight, or by putting the on your shoulders (known as the “good mornings”)
5. Planks – Everybody wants abs. But not a lot have them. Much can be said about abs and I’m probably gonna be writing about abs at least once a week. The plank is one of my favorite exercises since it works on your stabilizing muscles around the spine which are important not only for looking ripped but also for proper posture. It also compliments all the other exercises in this list. Modify it by going on your knees, or intensify it by taking a foot or forearm (or both) off the floor or increasing the time.