Working out is something most of us promise we’ll do but rarely follow through. If you’re guilty of this, don’t worry, you are not alone! It takes a lot of effort so it’s pretty understandable if you’ve been putting it off for quite some time. However, aside from the usual procrastination and lazy spells, there’s also the issue of finding the right exercise for your body and your lifestyle.
Your chosen workout routine needs to align with your individual needs and preferences. What works for your friend might not work for you, and what some top models do might not actually be healthy. If you’re serious about slimming down and getting fit, start with finding the right routine. To help you with that, we’ve listed some of the best and most recommended exercises from the world’s top trainers.
Remember, when making investments in your health, do things at your own pace. This is because we’re all at different fitness levels. If you push yourself too hard, you risk getting injured or burning yourself out.
If you’re new to working out and want to start with improving your biceps, then New York-based trainer John Romaniello suggests that you add bicep curls to your daily routine. To do this exercise, grab two dumbbells, and position your arms parallel to your hips. Once you have the position right, start contracting your arms muscles and slowly lift the dumbbells to shoulder level. After, gently move the dumbbells back down, then repeat the lifting process. Make sure to contract your biceps before and after lifting. For optimal results, trainers suggest you do eight to twelve reps per session in three to four sets. If you don’t have dumbbells at home, use 1 liter water bottles until you’re ready to make the investment.
Clap and Push-Up
If you’re looking to enhance your upper body strength, but don’t have the equipment to achieve it, then this is a good exercise to try. Begin in plank position and make sure your body is stiff and straight from your head down to your toes. Next, bend your elbows to lower your chest closer to the ground. If you feel like you’re at the lowest level that you could go, push yourself back up with both hands and clap your hands together while your body is in mid-air.
According to Tyson’s Corner trainer Tim Henriques, 20 reps will help boost your upper body strength faster. It may seem exhausting, but top trainers assure that the degree of effort you put in will equal the results.
If you’re looking for a high-intensity exercise without having to swipe your credit card for equipment, then burpees are the best way to go. Start off by standing upright, feet aligned with your hips, with your core and glutes engaged. Once you’re in the correct position, bend your knees and reach for the floor with both of your arms.
Next, straighten your legs and position your body low on the ground. Using your arms, push your body back up. After you’re back on your feet, do a hop or a jump with both your arms raised towards the sky. As you land, do so on the balls of your feet with your knees slightly bent. Repetition is key here, so do this often.
According to Chris Freytag of Get Healthy U, leg curls are best for people who are looking to work out their hamstrings, as well as their core. This exercise, however, will require you to utilize a foot cradle. If you don’t have one yet, then consider making the investment. To start with this exercise, you’ll need to lay flat on the floor with both your feet resting on the foot cradles. Position your arms just a few inches beside your hips, then engage your glutes as you carefully lift your lower back a few inches from the ground. Once your lower back is lifted, gently bend your knees as you pull your heel towards your glutes. Once done, push back to the first position, and repeat the movements.
Triple Threat (Pike-Push-Plank)
According to Boot Camp trainer Beth Jordan, the triple threat is one the most useful exercises you could adapt to your routine as it targets the glutes, the shoulders, and the core. It comes with a degree of difficulty, but the result is worth it. To begin, you’ll need a set of foot cradles. Position your feet on the cradles, with your body facing the floor. Use your arms to support your body, in tabletop position, then gently lift your hips and bend your body to a 30-degree angle. After, straighten your body once more while lowering it to the ground. With one hand to support your weight, shift to a side plank position, while stretching your free hand upwards. Return to the tabletop position and repeat.
Banded Glute Bridge
According to Stoke Method’s Kira Stoke, incorporating this exercise to your routine can help improve your glutes and better stabilize your body whenever you’re running or even when you’re just walking. For this, you’ll need a resistance band.
Start by lying with your back against the flooring, arms positioned on your side, and with your feet flat on the floor. Before beginning the workout, make sure to place your medium-resistance band in the middle of your thighs or slightly above the knee. Begin by squeezing your abs and your glutes while lifting your hips off the floor. Your upper body should align with your thighs when you lift. While holding this position, spread your legs out ten times before lowering your hips back down. Repeat as needed.
Side lunges may seem easy, but you’ll be surprised by the degree of exhaustion it brings. SoulCycle master instructor Charlee Atkins recommends doing these in between other exercises to increase cardio and intensity. You don’t need any special equipment for this exercise, so it’s just a matter of making time investments. To do side lunges, begin by standing up straight, with your arms folded against your chest. Next, extend one foot forward while bending your knee slightly. Lower your body as close to the ground as possible. Make sure to keep your chest lifted and your legs straight. This will help minimize body sores later. After lunging to one side, push your feet right back up and repeat the same movement for your other leg.
Crouching Tiger Push Up
According to celebrity trainer Kira Stokes, the crouching tiger push-up helps with mobility in the hips and spine. Begin by getting in the high plank position with your palms flat on the flooring. Do make sure that your feet are inches apart, and don’t forget to engage your core. Once you’re comfortable, start the exercise by lowering your chest towards the floor, then bending your knees close to your toes while keeping your upper body straight. Next lift your bottom upwards. Your body should be at a 45-degree angle facing the floor. When you’re steady, gently roll back to the reverse plank position and repeat the process. Do this regularly. It will be challenging at first, but practice makes things easier.
Reverse Lunge To Overhead Press With Press Drive
If you want to make the most out of your workout investment, then try the reverse lunge to overhead press with press drive exercise. According to Big Fit Girl author Louise Green, the exercise targets the quads, core, and glutes giving you the best gains for your efforts. For this exercise, you’ll need one dumbbell. Begin in a standing position with your chest out and feet apart. Rest the dumbbell on the right side of your shoulders and move your right foot approximately two feet back. Next, bend your knees to a 90-degree angle on either side and slowly push your right foot up. Follow this by raising your right arm with the dumbbell upward. Hold the position for a moment then shift to a reverse lunge.
For Nike master trainer Alex Silver-Fagan, squatting is the most functional exercise because it targets the glutes, hamstrings, legs, and quads. He further added that squats also get credit for helping improve our overall body position and awareness. If you don’t know how to do squats, let us break it down for you. You begin by straightening your back and leaning slightly forward with your arms raised to your chest. Bend your knee a little, and if you want, you can also hold a pair of dumbbells for added weight. As for the exercise part, all you need to do is to maintain your position while repeatedly lowering your bum to the ground. Do this regularly, and you will see promising results.
Suspended Knee Tucks
If you want an exercise that specifically targets the shoulders, abdominal muscles, and hip flexors, then celebrity trainer and licensed dietitian Tiffani Bachus suggests you try suspended knee tucks. It is a fairly easy exercise, but you would have to invest in a suspended foot cradle. To get started, rest your feet on the cradle front facing down, place your palms on the flooring, and get into a high plank position. Once in position, engage your core and gently bring your knees up to your chest. Make sure that while you’re doing this, your hips are moving upward with your spine straightened. This way, you’ll get the ultimate results. Repeat the steps for a few reps, and you’ll be in shape in no time.
According to WorkBetter Wellness founder Angel Chelik, there is no exercise better for your glutes, triceps, shoulders, and abdominals than the gliding plank. For this exercise, you’ll need a suspended foot cradle. This exercise equipment isn’t all that expensive, so there’s no need to take out a loan if you want to get one for yourself. Once you’re all set, start by getting in the high plank position with your feet resting on each of the cradles. Fold your forearms and place them parallel to your chest. Then, gently glide back with your forearms staying in place. Glide back and forth for a couple of reps for optimal results. Incorporate this exercise with your routine and you should see results in no time!
Offset Load Bulgarian Split Lunge
To build endurance and strength in your legs, the offset load Bulgarian split lunge is the exercise for you. Beachbody trainer Idalis Velasquez says that if done correctly, the exercise has the capacity to improve hip mobility. This is perfect for people who are into dancing or gymnastics.
Begin by standing up straight with your feet kept a couple of inches apart. Position one leg (front side facing down) on a bench, and hold one dumbbell in your opposite hand. Next, slowly lower your body towards the flooring. You should be in a split lunge position with your standing knee bent on a 90-degree angle, and your resting thigh a couple of inches above the ground. Lift your body up, and repeat for a couple more reps.
Russian Kettlebell Swing
Looking for a bit more challenge? The Russian kettlebell swing might be the exercise you’re looking for. Results Fitness co-founder Rachel Cosgrove says that the exercise helps build athletic powers, endurance, and stamina. The weight from the kettlebell also helps with strengthening the body, so make sure that you have one at the ready. Once you’ve got all your equipment lined up, start by puffing your chest out and bending your hips. Position the kettlebell in between your legs. Next, lift it off the flooring and swing it in between your open legs. With your upper body strength, quickly swing the kettlebell forward, while straightening your spine as you do so. Start slow, but do as many repetitions as you can before resting.
Deadlifts may be challenging and intimidating, but expert trainer Tony Gentilcore says that good results are guaranteed. He says that out of all the full-body exercises, the deadlift is the most effective. Start off by standing upright, with your spine in neutral position and your feet slightly apart. With your arms outstretched, bend to lift the weight off the ground then rise up slowly until you’re in a fully standing position. Keep in mind that you should put all the pressure on the heel of your foot to avoid straining the rest of your body. As you set it back down, maintain the neutral spine position and move your hips back until the weight touches the ground. Rest in between repeats.
Next up, we have the hip thrust. For Idalis Velasquez, this exercise is perfect for people who are looking for something low-impact but provides maximum results. The hip thrust also gives you stronger glutes, legs, and core. You can even choose to use exercise equipment such as a resistance band, dumbbell, or even a barbell. As for the exercise, you start off by sitting on the flooring with your back resting against an elevated surface. Then, with your feet parallel with your hips, push your hips upward. For added challenge you can add hip weights or place a resistance band on your thighs to add a bit of pressure. Hold this pose for a moment before slowly lowering back to your starting position.
Squat and Row
For clients looking to enhance their upper and lower body strength, Fitness Quest 10 owner Todd Durkin suggests the squat and row exercise. According to him, if done correctly, the squat and row exercise can also improve one’s hip mobility. Start by standing up straight with your body facing the TRX. Grab hold of the TRX handles with each hand and pull back, slowly shifting to a squatting position. Once finished, pull your body right back up while concentrating all the weight on the heel of your foot. Incorporate this with your workout routine and you should start feeling strong and lean in no time. Do note that you’ll need your credit card for this one since you might need a gym membership for it.
Side Arm Plank with Torso Rotation
Our next exercise is perfect for golfers and surfers, according to professional trainer Franklin Antoian. This exercise focuses on enhancing the core, balance, stability, and strength of the body. You don’t need any fancy equipment for it. To get started, stand in front of the TRX with one hand grabbing the two handles and the other stretched straight forward. Keep your hips and your feet in one position as you pull the handles, while you extend your stretched-out hand backward. Return to the starting position by pulling the handles forward. Repeat these steps for both sides of your body in order to achieve full results. It may be a little intimidating at first, but it is worth the investment.
Next, we have the box rows exercise that’ll help strengthen the upper body. For Elizabeth Kovar, master trainer for the American Council of Exercise, box rows can help enhance and strengthen one’s core and balance. She even credits the exercise for stabilizing her lower body’s core. If you want to give this exercise a try, just follow these steps.
Start by lying flat on the flooring. Set your feet on the ground, then grab the TRX handles to pull your weight up. Hold the position and engage your core, before slowly lowering your body back to the ground. Repeat this for a couple of reps. You’ll be able to see results with regular exercise, so make sure to stick it out until the end.
Another exercise that Stoke Method’s Kira Stoke recommends is something called Donkey Kicks. This type of exercise comes with several variations and is highly effective for training and improving the glutes and the hamstrings. Begin by getting into position. Get on your knees and place your arms directly below your shoulders with your palms firmly planted on the flooring. Next, lift one foot and kick backward. Your leg should be straight when doing this. Make sure that as you kick, you are engaging and pulling your glutes tighter. This way, you can maximize the movement. Continue with as much repetition as needed and switch to the other leg. You may also use equipment such as dumbbells and resistance bands to increase tension in the muscles.
Downward Facing Dog
According to yoga instructor Bethany Lyons, the Downward Facing Dog is perfect as a warmup since it promotes blood flow in the body. She also added that this particular exercise helps with waking up the hamstrings and keeping the hips active. To start, you’ll need to anchor your feet and palms to the ground. Bend at the hips so that your body is at a 60-degree angle facing the flooring. All the pressure and weight should go to your palms and your legs, so keep the rest of the body calm and relaxed. Hold this position for a couple of minutes before standing back up. If done correctly, this exercise will make you feel less muscle tension even after a long workout.
Los Angeles-based instructors Erin Oprea and Juan Hidalgo say that doing jump rope will improve your cardio and your stamina. It keeps your blood flowing so it will get you through high-intensity workouts. You’ll need to make investments in a sturdy jumping rope, but these aren’t too expensive to begin with. Once you have the basics, all you need to do is start with simple jump rope moves. Hold the ends of the jump rope with each hand and swing the rope forward or backward, depending on which direction you want it to go. Keep your elbows at waist-level and jump only when the rope hits the ground. The faster you go the better, but only go with the speed that works for you.
TRX Bosu Pikes
If you want to give TRX-BOSU Pikes a try, you’ll need some extra equipment at home. In addition to a foot cradle, you’ll need access to a BOSU ball as well. You can either purchase one with your credit card or get a gym membership to get access to all of their facilities. Once you’re set, just follow our guide. Begin in a kneeling position and place your feet on the foot cradle. Next, place your hands on the sides of the BOSU ball and make sure your arms are directly aligned with your shoulders. Your position should resemble a high plank. Next, tighten your core and push your hips upward without bending your knees. Repeat this a couple of times before moving to a new exercise.
The power pull helps with balance, stability, and upper body strength. It’s quite easy to do, says TRX trainer Fraser Quelch, and it engages a lot of your muscles so you’re guaranteed great results. Begin by standing straight, facing the TRX. Next, grab both handles of the equipment with one hand. Slowly, lean back and lift your free arm parallel to the TRX machine. In a rotating motion, turn your free arm towards the flooring. Hold this position then pull yourself back up with your other arm. Make sure that you are engaging your core muscles and exerting effort in the arm that’s holding the suspension trainer. While the movements are easy, it will take a lot of strength so pace yourself properly.
If you are looking to strengthen and improve your hips and legs, then you should give Romanian Deadlifts a try. Master trainer Nick Tumminello recommends the exercise because it is useful for everyday tasks like lifting heavy objects. To begin, position your body in an upright neutral position with your legs spread out on the ground, and your chest puffed out. Next, reach for the barbell in front of you, then lift it up to your thighs. Give your knees a slight bend when you reach for it and make sure that the barbell is as close to your body as possible. Do this a couple of times, and you’ll be reaping the fruits of your labor in no time. It surely is worth the investment.
Next, we have the Hill Sprint. It’s a low-intensity exercise, but it does yield good results. According to Tennessee-based trainer Nia Shanks, she likes to incorporate this exercise in women’s workout because it improves the upper body strength without putting too much strain on the spine. It is also a great outdoor activity that contributes to one’s mental well-being. To start, you’ll need to find a hill or any inclined terrain. After a good warmup, sprint up the slope at an appropriate speed. During your descent, walk in a zig-zag manner while occasionally breaking into a sprint. Alternate the two until you start feeling the burn in your muscles. Because of its degree of difficulty, do make sure to warm up beforehand.
Bent-Over Barbell Row
Another exercise that requires the use of barbells is the Bent-Over Barbell Row. According to fitness trainer Rog Law, doing this exercise is great for helping enhance their strength. He also gives credit to this exercise when it comes to minimizing lower back fatigue after high-intensity workouts. As the name suggests, you’ll need a barbell to execute this exercise. Set your barbell in front of you. Next, position your feet parallel to your hips and slightly bend your knee. Reach for the barbell with both hands and lift. Keep your chest puffed out and your spine straight to fully engage your muscles. Do a couple of reps and then rest. Include this exercise in your gym routine regularly, and the results will show pretty quickly.
Russian Twist With Sandbag
If you’re trying to find a quick and effective method to burn extra calories, then fitness trainer Josh Henkin suggests you try the Russian Twist with Sandbag exercise. According to Josh, this exercise burns more calories due to the challenge provided by the sandbag compared to the usual dumbbell or weights. Other benefits of the exercise include higher heart rates, enhanced core strength, and improved hip mobility. For this exercise, start by sitting on the flooring with your back slightly leaning backward. Next, bend your knees at an angle with your heel resting on the ground. Now, hold the sandbag straight to your chest and rotate it from right to left, then left to right. Repeat these steps as desired. Make sure you rest after.
Next, we have the Farmer’s Walk. It is a fairly easy exercise, which only requires a kettlebell and a degree of patience. Fitness trainer John Ferruggia says that this type of exercise is ideal for people who are struggling to improve their calves. According to Ferruggia, big calves are inherited, so people with slimmer calves need to exert more effort. You can begin by lifting a pair of kettlebells using both hands. With your upper and lower body straightened, move back and forth using very small strides. For optimal results, focus all the pressure towards the ball of your feet and slightly lift your heel off the ground while walking. This directs pressure and tension into your calves, making the muscles contract and grow.
Barber Split Squat
This next one requires a bit more experience, particularly with lifting. If you’ve advanced to this stage then give the Barber Split Squat a try. It is designed to help enhance a person’s leg strength by putting weight and pressure on the upper body. To start, you need to stand in a split stance position with one leg bent at a 90-degree angle in front, and another one stretched out towards the back. Rest the barbell across your shoulder and secure your grip on the handle. Once you’re comfortable in your position, gently lower your body down until your back knee is slightly higher than the flooring. Carefully stand up with your back straightened. Repeat the exercise, but do pace yourself as well.
Just like the Hill Sprint, regular sprinting can also help with increasing blood flow and adrenaline in the body. It’s highly effective for weight loss, especially when it is paired with other high-impact exercises. Sprinting can be very beneficial to the mind, too, since it is highly stimulating. The process of sprinting is pretty straight forward. Always start with a good 10-15 minute warmup, followed by a slow sprint in flat terrain. Once you get the hang of things, you can slowly increase your speed, by some degree, along with the duration of sprints. You can also maintain speed, depending on your current fitness. For optimal results, pair your sprinting exercise with your preferred cardio workout to help speed up the process of weight loss.
If you are currently struggling to increase your lower body strength, then Neurophysiologist Chad Waterbury suggests you give the popular Heavy Deadlifts exercise a try. The process is pretty straight forward, and it also yields great results. This exercise also helps with your speed, so it’s perfect for anyone who’s into running and sprinting. To start with this exercise, stand with your legs 8-10 inches apart. Make sure your back is straight before you bend forward in order to grab your barbell. Your palms should be facing away from your body to maximize your grip on the handle. Next, pull the barbell away from the flooring. Extend your hips and your knees, while lifting the barbell up and down. Make sure you also pause in between.
For Single-Leg Lifts, all you need is a yoga mat and some determination. Start by lying flat against the mat with your arms positioned to your side. This will help anchor your body to the ground and prevent it from lifting together with your legs later on. Next, bring your legs up to a 90-degree angle and start lowering your right leg towards the floor. Bring it back up before it touches the flooring, and do the same with your other leg. Repeat the process, doing 12-15 reps per leg every 30 seconds. According to sports trainer Dean Somerset, doing this exercise is great for rehabilitating our bodies from any injuries. In particular it is said to help the spine and stabilize our core.
Incline Dumbbell Press
For something that’s high-impact yet painless, then you should definitely give the Incline Dumbbell Press a try. According to Jon Goodman of the Personal Trainer Development Center, this exercise allows individuals to enhance muscles in their biceps without having to worry about any degree of strain to the area. To begin the exercise, rest on a slightly inclined bench and position a pair of weights on your chest. Make sure that your grip is tight and your palms are facing inwards before you lift them off your chest. Press through your muscles and gently lower it back down. You’ll get results faster by doing this exercise in three to five sets, but it is more important to go at the pace you’re comfortable with.
Leg Lift Cross Crunch
For an exercise that engages much of your muscle core and anterior flex chain, Vancouver-based expert Kalev Jaaguste, suggests you look toward the Leg Lift Cross Crunch exercise. According to Kalev, the Leg Lift Cross Crunch is more dynamic than the regular cross crunch leaving plenty of room for improvement. To execute this exercise, lay flat on the flooring with one leg extended forward and slightly elevated. The other should be bent and positioned near the temple of your hands. Next, lift your extended feet upward while bringing your elbow towards your knee in a crunch-like motion. As you do this, make sure that your hands remain at the temple. Repeat the same process with each leg until you start feeling the burn in your muscles.
Next up, we have The Thruster. Aside from strengthening your body, this exercise is also given credit for helping improve metabolism due to the express post-exercise oxygen consumption phenomenon. To start, securely hold a barbell against your chest, crouch down to a squat, then quickly stand up while throwing the barbell into the air. Keep your eyes on the barbell as it descends. Catch it as fast as you can, then return to the first position to repeat the process. Make sure that while you’re doing this, your body is positioned accordingly. Keep your chest puffed and your back straight to minimize possible injury or strain. Experts suggest you perform as many thrusts as you can within a 20-second timeframe.
When trying to improve your core and balance, it’s best to incorporate lunge jumps into your routine. This exercise is highly recommended by several fitness experts because it engages several muscles in the lower body, and also helps you keep your balance in check. If you’re not familiar with this exercise, here’s what you need to do. Start by placing your body in a lunge position with one knee bent forward and the other slightly backward, and closer to the floor. Once you’re in the correct position, fully extend your arms into the air and go in for a jump. Upon descent, switch your legs before you land. This might take a degree of practice, but your effort is worth the results.
Bench Burpees With Push-Ups
You already know that burpees can be very hard. If you’re up for a challenge, however, amp up the ante with push-ups. Sounds difficult? Well, according to Alistair Hopper of Flex Fitness, this particular exercise combination is a great way to improve your cardiovascular condition and strength capacity in one go. To begin, face a bench or anything that’s sturdy and elevated, then go in for a quick jump. Upon landing, maneuver your body into a push-up position with your hands placed securely on the bench. Do a quick push-up then repeat the process again. If the degree of difficulty isn’t enough, get rid of the bench and do your push-ups on the floor instead. Make sure you warm up and pace yourself!
Another way to improve and strengthen your upper body is through the compound row exercise. This targets the major muscles in our shoulders, forearms, biceps, and back. It also enhances grip strength. To do it, start by facing your TRX bands (either by sitting down or standing up), while straightening your back. Pull the bands all the way to your chest, while engaging your shoulder muscles. Keep your body in a neutral position then repeat. Since this is not a cardio training exercise, it’s alright if you take your time with it. Go at your own pace and really make sure your muscles are engaged. This might also require you to go to the gym or make investments in exercise equipment.