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10 Full Body Exercises That Get You the Most Bang For Your Buck

10 Full Body Exercises That Get You the Most Bang For Your Buck

When it comes to exercising, most of us would prefer to get maximum results in the shortest amount of time possible.

So it doesn’t make much sense when people spend all of their time in the gym on single muscle isolation exercises like biceps curls, leg extensions and triceps kickbacks when they could be getting stronger, faster and burn more calories in less time with full body exercises.

While isolation exercises are great for bodybuilders trying to gain massive size,they’re not necessarily the most efficient exercises or the best choice for the typical exerciser looking to get in the best shape in a limited amount of time.

Not only will full body exercises make you more functionally fit, meaning they’ll help you perform better in everyday activities or athletics, they’ll also work more muscles at one time and burn more calories while doing it.

Here are 10 full body exercises that will get you more bang for your buck:

1. Burpees

If I had to pick my favorite exercise of all time, burpees would be it. Not only do burpees require nothing but your own bodyweight—meaning you have no real excuse not to do them—they’re an awesome overall body strengthener and will condition you like no other exercise can.

How to do them: Stand up straight, then 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 so that your chest touches the floor. Jump and return your feet to the squat position as fast as possible. Immediately jump up into the air as high as you can. Add a little clap for pizazz!

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2. Squats

Not only will squats give you a strong, powerful lower body, they’ll also work your core, strengthen your back and work shoulders as well.

Plus, you can do squats using just your own body weight for an awesome, do-anywhere exercise, add weight to make them even more challenging.

How to do them: Stand with your feed hip-width apart while pulling your shoulders back and engaging your abs. Push your butt and hips back as if you were sitting in a chair. While keeping your weight on your heels, lower down until your thighs are parallel or lower to the floor. Raise back up to the starting position, squeezing your butt and pushing your knees outward as you straighten.

3. Step ups

Step ups are a fantastic exercise you can do with very little space that will strengthen your legs and core muscles, build endurance, and get your heart rate up all in one move.

To make step ups more challenging, add weight or step onto a higher surface.

How to do them: Stand in front of a box or an elevated surface, pulling your shoulders back and keeping your abs tight. Set your left leg onto the box, then step to top of the box making sure your feet are flat. Step back down with the same leg, then repeat with your right leg.

4. Pull ups

Pull ups are one of the best upper body exercises of all time, and not only work your arms, shoulders and back, but will also strengthen your core as well. If you can’t do one quite yet, don’t give up all hope—with practice, anyone can do a pull up (yes, that includes women!).

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How to do them: Start by hanging from a pull up bar with your palms facing away from you. Keeping your chest up and your shoulders back, squeeze your glutes and cross your feet, then pull yourself up so that your chin rests over the bar. Lower back down with control.

Pull up modifications for beginners:

  • Jumping pull ups: Jump up from the ground or an elevated surface, using momentum to help propel yourself up to the bar.
  • Negatives: Jump up to the bar so that you’re in the top of a pull up position, then slowly lower yourself down with control.
  • Use bands: Looping a band around the pull up bar and then again around your feet (or knees) can help you push past the sticking point of the pull up.

5. Push ups

Forget the fancy machines, do push ups instead. Push ups work your arms, back, chest, core, butt and even leg muscles. And the best thing about push ups? You can do them anywhere.

How to do them: Start in a plank position, with your shoulders directly over your hands. Tighten your abs, glutes and thighs, then lower yourself down so that your chest touches the floor while keeping your elbows as close to your body as possible. Push yourself back up into the starting position and repeat.

Push ups modifications for beginners:

  • Incline push ups: Find a bench, a table, or a similar sturdy raised surface and assume a plank position with your feet on the floor and your hands on the elevated surface. Do a push up from this position. As you get stronger, find lower surfaces to do them on.
  • Push ups from your knees: Start in a push up position with your knees on the floor. Tighten your abs, glutes and thighs, then lower yourself down so that your chest touches the floor while keeping your elbows as close to your body as possible. Push yourself back up into the starting position and repeat.

6. Dips

Want to work your chest, triceps, shoulders and abs all at once? Start making dips your go-to exercise.

How to do them: Stand in between a set of parallel bars. Grab the bars, straighten your arms, and hoist yourself up off the ground while slightly crossing your legs. While pulling your shoulders back and keeping your chest up, lower yourself down so that your elbows are parallel to the floor. Raise yourself back up to the starting position so that your arms are straight.

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Dips modifications for beginners:

  • Elevate your feet: Assume the same position between a set of parallel bars as described above, but put your feet on an elevated surface to make it easier.
  • Use a bench: Sit on a bench or sturdy surface with your feet on the floor and your hands behind you, elbows bent behind you. Raise yourself up off the bench so that your arms are straight and feet still on the ground. While keeping your shoulders back and abs tight, lower your butt to the bench, so that your elbows form a 90 degree angle. Raise yourself back up and repeat.

7. Jump lunges

Jump lunges will not only make your legs burn like crazy, they’ll get your heart rate up quickly as well and challenge your balancing skills—making them a fantastic full body conditioning exercise.

How to do them: Start in a lunge position with your knees touching or almost touching the floor. Jump up explosively and switch legs so that your rear leg is in the front and front leg is in the rear, then repeat as fast as you can.

8. Kettlebell swings

Everyone from bodybuilders to the most casual exerciser loves kettlebell swings for a reason: they rock. Not only are kettlebell swings great for fat loss, they’ll build increased power, cause greater muscular endurance, increase your anaerobic and aerobic capacity, and more.

How to do them: Stand with your legs hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell between them. Allow the kettlebell to swing slightly behind your legs, then propel your hips forward, bringing the kettlebell straight over your head. Keep your eyes on the kettlebell and point it straight up or slightly forward. Pull the kettlebell down from the sky and repeat.

9. Handstands

Handstands are one of the most underrated exercises for one main reason: most people think they just can’t do them. But even if you start out doing handstands against a wall, they’ll help you build a strong upper body and core, increase your balancing abilities, aid in bone health, and more.

In fact, doing handstands every day can even help you feel less stressed out—and who doesn’t need that these days?

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How to do them: Start with your hands on a floor in an area where there’s nothing around you to bump into. Jump or tuck up with control and hold the handstand. Lower yourself down with control.

Handstand modifications for beginners:

  • Handstand facing away from the wall: Face away from the wall with your hands on the ground shoulder width apart.
  • Slowly walk your feet up the wall until you’re vertical, then walk your hands close to the wall. Get out of the handstand by walking your feet down. Try holding a handstand for 5-10 seconds for six sets. If this is too tough for you still, practice walking up and down the wall until you build enough strength.
  • Handstand facing the wall: Face toward the wall, place your hands on the ground shoulder width apart, and jump up into a handstand with control. Work up to holding a handstand for 60 seconds. Once you’ve got that down, try and remove your feet from the wall.

10. Box jumps

Great for building lower body strength, conditioning, and preparing you for any sports where jumping is involved, box jumps also burn major calories and will get your heart rate up in a hurry.

Plus, jumping up on something high makes you look like a badass, and who doesn’t want that?

How to do them: Stand in front of a box or sturdy raised surface. Jump up onto the box, landing with both of your feet on top then straighten your legs. Jump back down from the box, then immediately jump back up and do it all over again.

Now go work hard, get sweaty, and have fun!

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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