Advertising
Advertising

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!

Advertising

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!).

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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?

Advertising

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!

More by this author

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Join a Gym This New Year 9 Reasons Why Bodyweight Training Rocks 10 Full Body Exercises That Get You the Most Bang For Your Buck 5 Effortless Tricks To Make Healthy Eating Easy 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Spending Less Time Working Out

Trending in Fitness

1 How to Gain Muscle Fast (The Healthy And Natural Way) 2 These 13 Leg Stretches Will Prevent Pain and Injury During Exercise 3 7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance 4 7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day 5 The Ultimate 5-Day Workout Routine for Women to Get Strong and Toned

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

Advertising

This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

Advertising

If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

Advertising

Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

Advertising

To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

Read Next