When it comes to exercises, their variety is really wide – from isolation to compound exercises, from exercises that target different muscle groups to compound ones. But you don’t have to do all of them, by far. In fact, you only need just a few exercises in your life to get fit and stay fit.
What makes these few exercises so special that you must do them more or less every week is their versatility and effectiveness during workout. Basically speaking, these exercises alone are enough to train your ability to perform the most crucial motions of a human body. So if you don’t do anything else but stick to just these 5, you will be pretty fit.
Why? Because it’s one of the most versatile exercises that hit your entire upper body – your chest, arms, back and shoulders, and even your core. If you were to do just this exercise alone, you’d develop the upper body to be envied. Just don’t forget the leg day.
The most important tip for pull ups is to keep the motion steady and controlled. Never swing up to pull yourself, and don’t drop down in free fall. Always keep control in your hands – pulling the shoulders back will help you. Engage your core as well so that your body is rigid throughout the movement.
As wonderful as pull ups are, we need the pushing movement to complement that pulling power. Push ups are great for many reasons. First of all, it’s one of the best ways to develop a strong chest. Secondly, your core is working even more than during pull ups as you have to keep that body straight.
As with pull ups, keep the movement controlled throughout the exercise. Lower yourself down till the chest almost touches the ground – you can pause in that position for extra muscle tension. Keep that core engaged and your body rigid as well.
We absolutely cannot live without squats. If having twig legs is not your thing (and it shouldn’t be) then you must train those legs and squats are perfect for that. Whether you do bodyweight squats, single leg squats or barbell squats in their many variations, this exercise will help you develop big and strong quads and glutes. Just add some extra calf training on top of that and you have all it takes.
With squats, it’s important to keep the correct back position. Keep your spine arched and your hips back, always imagine sitting down on a chair as you to a squat.
It doesn’t matter what you lift off the ground, a barbell, dumbbells, heavy bags, a bed or some other heavy object, developing strength in this motion won’t only get you a nice and strong back but provide you with the very useful functional strength too.
The technique of the deadlift can be a bit tricky to master but it’s important to do so to avoid lower back injury. Always use the bar (or whatever object you’re lifting) as a pointer as to when you should engage your knees. Start with your back arched, hips back in lower position, lift the barbell with your legs only until it reaches the knee level. At that point, thrust your hips forward to complete the motion.
We’ve been pushing, pulling, squating and lifting heavy things and all of the above exercises develop great functional strength, you certainly need them in your life. But we have room for one more exercise and we will train for explosive power with this one. Being able to move explosively is one of the most important things in sports and you would do well incorporating training for it in your fit lifestyle.
Kettlebell swing is a great exercise for this as it trains your full body and gets your heart racing. It’s one of the best exercises to burn a lot of calories in a very short time, so it’s perfect if you’re looking to shed some fat too.
So there you have it, the most essential exercises you need in your life. You can skip any other exercise, but try to get these 5 into your workouts every week.