We know daily exercise remains crucial when it comes to optimizing your health. With so many options and limitless information available, getting overwhelmed with what works can easily happen. But not to worry: we got your back! From upper body to full body exercises, we compiled everything you need to build the perfect workout routine for your fitness goals
Read on to find out some of the best workouts to get your body active and fit:
Pushups: one of the most basic, yet effective bodyweight moves you can perform. Due to the number of muscles that you use to perform them, you definitely should include it in any workout routine. Start in a plank position, your core should remain tight, shoulders pulled down and back, and your neck neutral. By bending your elbows and beginning to lower your body down to the floor, you create the easy motion of a push up. Focus on keeping your elbows close to your body during the movement.
2. Standing Overhead Dumbbell Presses
As another workout that uses the entire body, this exercise works several parts of your body at once. A standing overhead press doesn’t just exercise your shoulders, but it also engages your upper back and core at the same time. Pick a light set of dumbbells to start. Begin the exercise by standing, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Move the weights overhead so your upper arms remain parallel to the floor. While doing so, brace your core and begin to push up until your arms fully extend above your head.
Going back to the basics: squats. Squats increase lower body and core strength, as well as flexibility in your lower back and hips. They engage some of the largest muscles in the body, which in turn packs a major punch in calories burned. They also lower your chances of injuring your knees and ankles. The movement performed strengthens your tendons, bones and ligaments around your leg muscles.
“Squats are one of the main exercises I make people do during warmups for my classes. It’s a great way to tone your glutes while also building strength in your legs,” Muay Thai instructor PJ McMahon said.
Did you know: squats also strengthen your core! Obtaining strong core muscles can make everyday movements: turning, bending and even standing easier. Not only that, but a strong core can improve your balance, ease pain in your low back and make it easier to maintain good posture. Squats activate the spine muscles, all while increasing core stabilization and stretching the hip muscles. While back squats will give results for both, switching to front squats increases the effect.
4. Glute Bridge
Glutes by popular demand remain a major focus in a lot of primary workout routines. The glute bridge effectively works your entire posterior chain, which benefits both you and your backside. Start by lying on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground and arms straight at your sides with your palms facing down. Raise your hips off the ground by squeezing your core, glutes and hamstrings. Your upper back and shoulders should still remain in contact with the ground and your core downward should form a straight line.
Planks knowingly remain an effective way to target both your abdominal muscles as well as your whole body. Planking stabilizes your core without straining your back the way sit-ups or crunches may do so. Begin in a pushup position with your hands and toes firmly planted on the ground, your back straight and your core tight. By taking deep and controlled breaths your abs, shoulders, triceps, glutes and quads all engage while doing this workout.
“Planks are a great way to build strength in your core, which is needed for this sport,” Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor Leor Weissman said. “Even if you don’t train Jiu Jitsu, planks are a very good option to have in your workout plan regardless.”
Core training effectively works out your core to improve stability, reduce injury and maintain mobility. While the classic plank serves as a great go-to exercise, you can also modify planks in order to suit your body’s needs. One example involves dropping to your forearms in the plank position. Increase your length of time as you hold the pose to maximize the exercise.
6. Side Planks
Side planks serve as another way of engaging your core through a different type of plank movement. Lie on your right side with your left leg and foot stacked on top of your right leg and foot. Prop your upper body by placing your right forearm on the ground and elbow directly under your shoulder. Tighten your core to stiffen your spine and lift your hips and knees off the ground. As a result, you form a straight line with your body, engaging your upper, lower and core muscles. Repeat on each side with your desired repetition.
Burpees combine squats, jumps and pushups. It’s an effective workout because you burn fat from your overall body and you train multiple different muscle groups like your chest, legs and core all at once! Not only do burpees require nothing but your own bodyweight (which means you can do them with no equipment necessary) but they also prove an awesome way to strengthen your body overall. In addition to burning fat and strengthening your body, burpees possess other cardio-related benefits. Some include: stronger heart and lungs, improved blood flow, lower blood pressure and improved brain function and clarity.
“They’re [Burpees] a great way to get your entire body ready and warmed up. One of the key things to a great exercise and an excellent warm-up,” Black Belt Instructor Nika Cardoso said.
Burpees will condition you like no other exercise can, in that they require quick bursts of energy that keep your blood flowing. In order to complete a successful burpee rep, you must do the following: Stand up straight and get into a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you. Kick your feet back into a push up position and lower your body until your chest touches the floor. Finish off with a jump and return your feet to the squat position as fast as possible. Continue this until you can’t handle the burn anymore!
8. Stair Sprints/ Hill Runs
This type of exercise, known as a HIIT exercise (High Intensity Interval Training) includes short bursts of cardio alternated between periods of rest or low intensity cool downs. For this exercise, you want to sprint at max effort on stairs or a hill at a pace that you can only maintain for about 20 seconds. Following that step, switch it up with a recovery run at about half of the intensity of the sprint and double the time. The harder you push yourself during those sprints, the greater the burn, both literally and figuratively.
Nothing beats including a good, calorie-burning run into your workout. Running consistently shows as the best way to warm up your body and loosen your joints for the rest of your workout. Because of this, I personally like to start my workout with a light run, efficient enough to warm up my body without completely tiring me out. To add more intensity during and after your workout, add short bursts of sprints into your run.
“I always start my classes with running. It helps in warming up the body to prepare itself for the workout ahead. I especially find it effective as a warm-up in the wintertime, since people’s bodies are colder and stiffer than usual,” Muay Thai instructor JP Zungia said.
Running can give you a major boost to your weight-loss goals. The number of calories you burn while running depends on a number of different factors such as your height, weight, age, gender, fitness level, exercise intensity and running experience. However, moving your body at a challenging pace will almost certainly result in a positive effect on your body composition, especially when just starting out. In addition, numerous benefits of running outside exist when it comes to weight loss. Some of these benefits include lower blood pressure and resting heart rate, improved blood sugar control, and lower cholesterol.
10. Strength Training
Although cardio remains the best method in order to shed, toning your muscles remains just as important. Unlike doing regular workouts like the ones mentioned above, strength training requires you to go a bit beyond the standard lifting of weights and doing simple repetitions. You’ll increase your afterburn by working your muscles to exhaustion each set instead of stopping at an arbitrary rep range like 10 or 12. Focus on compound movements that employ more muscle groups over more joints like deadlifts and overhead presses.
“It’s obvious that facing stronger men is always a challenge when going against them. Building your own strength can help you alleviate that pressure that comes with a strong opponent, both literally and figuratively,” Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Blue Belt Antonio Olivar said.
Strength training can help you manage or lose weight by increasing your metabolism to help you burn more calories. Strength training may enhance your quality of life and improve your ability to do everyday activities that require heavy lifting and heavy use of the body. Strength training can also protect your joints from injury, as well as protect yourself from injuries inflicted by others. Acquiring the strength to protect yourself from any potential threat provides a confidence boost both physically and mentally.