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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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8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

Vegetarianism has been around for a long time, finding favor with many people, including Pythagoras clear back around 580 B.C. It’s been presented as one of the most healthy diets around, including being touted by the Egyptians to the point of abstaining from meat and animal clothing due to karmic beliefs. The vegetarian society (vegsoc.org) defines vegetarianism as:

“Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.”

While it’s pretty obvious that there are multiple benefits to following a vegetarian diet, it’s always good to be informed about the cons of this dietary choice as well.

Outlined below are several things you might want to be aware of before you say good-bye to meat forever. Whether you are a current vegetarian, or contemplating making a shift, keep in mind these 8 things to keep yourself healthy.

1. You could suffer from B12 vitamin deficiency

The B vitamins are especially important for stress management, adrenal health, and brain function. Vegetarians in particularly are at risk for B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is attached to the protein in animal products and without enough B12 you can suffer from depression, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate.

Due to its attachment to animal proteins, B12 is the hardest for vegetarians to obtain when they don’t eat dairy or eggs in their diet. This essential little vitamin can be found in some algae and has been added to some yeast, but research doesn’t currently provide enough information to say whether or not these forms of B12 are of good quality and can provide adequate supplementation.

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The body is unable to make this vitamin, meaning it has to be taken in through food or supplementation. Essential for making red blood cells, DNA, nerves and various other function in the body, a Harvard Health Medical report in January of 2013 found symptoms of a B12 deficiency can present in sneaky ways including depression, paranoia, delusion, and loss of taste and smell.

2.  You could suffer from higher states of anxiety/depression, lower sense of well-being

According to a CBS Atlanta report, vegetarians suffered from a higher rate of anxiety and depression than their counterparts. Read the full report here. Depression and/or anxiety can be a result of many possible deficiencies including essential vitamins and amino acids you can find only in meat products, including Omega-3s from wild caught salmon.

Without the correct supplementation and proper understanding of diet, including the importance of micro and macro nutrients, depression and anxiety can become a serious problem, bringing down the overall health and well-being of vegetarians.

Even though reports on health and lifestyle show vegetarians have a lower BMI and lower consumption of alcohol and drugs, it also shows they suffer from more chronic illnesses and more visits to the doctor than their meat eating counterparts.

3. You could suffer from excess weight

When you go vegetarian it opens up a lot of food, but just because there isn’t any meat in front of you, it doesn’t mean it’s necessary healthy. Though pizza and beer technically fall under the vegetarian diet, it’s not a healthy choice for your waist line.

Just because being a vegetarian is associated with a healthier lifestyle in many cases, doesn’t mean it’s always true. Making bread and pasta your staples and not understanding where your protein sources should be coming from, can pack on body fat, which increases your chances of health issues such as diabetes and chronic inflammation.

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If the choice to go vegetarian happens on a whim without the proper understanding of food control, portion, and nutritionally dense alternatives you can find yourself reaching for vegetarian foods, which could cause serious problems down the road. Nuts are a good example, but just because something is touted as healthy, it doesn’t mean, your should eat it in excess.

Eating too many calories in fat will still cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in carbs will cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in protein will cause you to gain weight. See a pattern here? Not to mention you’ll miss out on important nutrients the body needs by over-eating in one area and under-eating in another. Re-read number 2.

4. You could have a higher risk of heart disease

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables should be a goal we all strive for, but when you cut out meat, you also cut out what is known as complete protein, which you find in animal by-products. Complete means more than just the essential amino acids, it means those amino acids contain dietary sulfur. Without enough dietary sulfur, which is found almost exclusively in fish and pasture feed grass beef, the body will struggle with the biological activities of both protein and enzymes.

The effects cascade downward, effecting bones, joints, tissues, and even metabolic issues. In short, a low intake of sulfur associated with a vegetarian diet can result in high blood levels of homocysteine, which may lead to blood clots in your arteries, blood clots raise your risk of stroke and heart attack. To read the full report click here.

5. You could suffer from low cholesterol

I know, at first you’re thinking, wait, low cholesterol is a good thing. Yes, it is, when it’s LDL cholesterol, which you get from eating an unhealthy diet, but low HDL (good cholesterol) can cause serious health issues. HDL, according to the mayo clinic, is in every cell in our body and can help fend off heart disease, not enough of it though, and too much LDL can go the other way, will be building up plaque in the arteries and leading to heart disease.

Cholesterol, the good kind, is actually vitally important to the making of every steroid hormone in the body! There are six, and without cholesterol the body is unable to convert hormones, and it can cause damage in the endocrine system.

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A vegetarian without a balanced diet, meaning enough protein, enough veggies, and enough good fats, could disrupt his or her adrenals, which are directly connected to the endocrine system and the body’s ability to make and synthesize the hormones your body needs. The six major hormones in the body help do everything from metabolizing carbohydrates, to the electrolyte balance, to making sure if you’re a woman you can carry a healthy baby through pregnancy.

6. You could suffer from lower bone density and osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis, the disease where the bones get thinner, weaker, and fractures become a high risk with day to day movements. It’s often associated with the older generation, but your risk for osteoporosis increases with a lower bone density. Bone density can be directly related to diet and lifestyle, along with many other factors.

When it comes to eating a vegetarian diet it’s possible to miss getting enough of the right nutrients, causing the bones to begin to break down. If your vegetarian diet isn’t balanced and providing you with the correct nutrients and the means to absorb the correct nutrients, your body could begin to break down.

Recently, Professor Tuan Nguyen of Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research led a review of both Australian and Vietnamese research around the bone density of vegetarian versus their meat eating counterparts. Helping Professor Nguyen was Dr. Ho-Pham Thuc Lan from Pham Ngoc Thac University of Medicine in Vietnam. The review was designed to sort though years of research surrounded by discrepancies and inadequate clinical data.

At the end of the review, with vegetarianism rising to around 5% of the populace in the western continents, and with wide spread osteoporosis reports – 2 million in Australia and closer to 54 million in America – the decrease in bone density of vegetarians is a serious issue which needs to be addressed, if you’ve cut meat and animal by-products out of your life.

7. You could be at a higher risk for colorectal cancer

Cancer seems to be running rampant through America, and it’s within everyone’s best interest to do all they can to keep their body healthy and happy to prevent cancer from finding a place to grow. In most studies it’s been found vegetarians are at lower risk for cancer, but a European Oxford study with over 63 thousand men and women in the United Kingdom found the risk for colorectal cancer higher in vegetarians than in meat-eaters.

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Extra care needs to be taken when establishing a diet to ensure the body is receiving and able to up take all the important nutritional benefits and requirements from food.

8. You could end up eating more processed food

Depending on how deep you choose to go as a vegetarian, it could create the need to substitute a lot of food and recipe ingredients in your diet, but what happens when you cut out meat, eggs, and dairy and your recipe calls for meat, eggs, and/or dairy? You have to end up using a “healthy” vegetarian alternative which include stabilizers, thickeners, and various other ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Lauren from Empowered Substance puts it into a great perspective with her comparison of Earth Balance, a vegetarian approved butter replacement compared to butter. She points out the ingredients in Earth Balance consist of: Palm fruit oil, canola oil, safflower oil, flax oil, olive oil, salt, natural flavor, pea protein, sunflower lecithin, lactic acid, annatto color. Meanwhile, the ingredient list in butter, is much shorter. It’s butter.

That’s only one example. To appeal to the vegetarian lifestyle food manufacturers have found alternatives which fall under vegetarian, but aren’t necessarily healthy for you. Consider baked goods, which though vegetarian can be filled with more sugars and binders than regular baked goods with diary products. It’s the same with vegetarian items like mac and cheese, without using real cheese you may just be getting oil and thickeners, without even the smallest amount of nutritional value.

The reality is, most vegetarian substitutes contain the same junky alternatives which even meat eaters should be avoiding to remain happy and healthy.

On one final note, whichever lifestyle you choose to work with, remember anything in excess – including protein and animal by products – isn’t healthy for the body. It takes a wide spectrum of food and nutrients to keep the beautiful body you travel around in all day running in prime condition.

 

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