Hitting the gym regularly in order to be fit, strong and healthy has always been the nomenclature. Various forms of strength training exercises always lead to the main purpose – that of which to help you build strength and muscle, burn fat (both subcutaneous and visceral fats) and to also improve your overall fitness.
Most of us try to do the workouts without actually knowing the basics of each moves. Some moves are simply much more effective than the stereotype ones you are doing. In fact you can do some of these exercises right in your home.
So how can you ensure that you can see the results with all the time, effort and sweat you’re banking on? Well, its time to get back to the basics with these seven moves which will help you define increased strength, greater athleticism, better core stability and an overall improved health. It will be really good if you can fit key workouts into your routine.
1. The Goblet Squat
Not many people are quite successful with squat exercises basically as they are not quite aware of the right techniques to execute for an effective workout.
To solve this problem the goblet squat comes in real handy. Its a very effective exercise that evolves around great progression as the load is held in front.
This works out the core double-time to keep you in balance while your legs take control of your movement down and stand back up all the while with your back locked. This is a great leg exercise that will really help ingrain proper deep squatting form.
Start off with holding the dumbbell with both hands underneath the bell at chest level. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly pointing outwards. This is to ensure that when you make your way down, your elbows touch the inside of your thighs for the full motion.
Pretend that you are sitting on an invisible chair keeping your butt back and descend. Make sure your elbows touch the inside of your thighs. Keep your heels flat throughout the whole motion. Your heels tend to rise when you are going back up. To prevent this, push your hips back and work on partial ranges of motion until your mobility and form improve.
Try to do four sets of 8-10 repetitions allowing for a minute or less break in between.
2. Pallof Press
This is a great resistance exercise to do which is incredibly simple and beneficial. This does not really involve heavyweights unless you are a weightlifter. You normally use weights which are comfortable enough for you to execute the whole movement.
The routine or movement of this workout can be pretty confusing and I’ll try my best to put it in words to explain. Maybe I can give you a rough idea on how to execute this exercise.
The real action starts when you start resisting an anti-rotation movement, which forces you to engage through your entire core: obliques, abs, lower back, glutes and more. The Pallof press will help you build great usable strength through the mid-section.
Stand perpendicular to a cable column with the column’s arm set around the shoulder height. Grab the handle with both hands and pull it towards to your chest while maintaining tension on the cable. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Here I have to let you know what remains constant throughout the workout.
Your feet, knees, hips and shoulders should all remain locked while facing straight ahead. Next squeeze through the stomach and press the handle away from the body, extending the arms straight while resisting any twisting. It’s at this juncture the resistance will be at its peak. Bring your arms back to the starting position and repeat three sets of 10 reps on each sides.
To give you a better idea, here’s a video on Pallof Press which is done in both ways. Vertical and horizontal. Take it away!
3. Dumbbell Row
This is one of the most common workouts you can see anyone doing in the gym. This exercise helps to develop a strong back, forearms, strong core and improve posture. The main muscles used here are the lats, traps and rhomboids.
Use a dumbbell with a weight of around 20 pounds. You will need a bench for this workout. As you can see on the image on your right is the posture for the starting position.
Begin with your left hand placed firmly on the bench extended while your right arm holds the dumbbell. Your left leg rests on the bench while your right foot is on the ground. Then you retract your shoulders, tightening your abs and pull the weight up on the side of your body until your elbow moves above your body. Lower the weight in a slow controlled move and repeat this process for three sets of 6-8 reps for both sides.
This is one of the most common and basic exercises you can do. Push-ups target the upper-body pushing muscles which are the anterior deltoids, triceps and especially the chest.
Unlike the bench press, it needs to engage your core and and allows full range of motion in your shoulder blades.
There are various types of pushups and the variation hugely depends on how far your hands are placed from each other on the ground. For now lets just stick to the basic functional moves of this great exercise.
Start with your knees facing on the floor and place your hands on the floor at shoulder-width. Then straighten your legs assuming a plank position. For maximum benefits, you have to maintain this plank position throughout the workout. That’s the challenging part.
Squeeze your backside to keep your trunk engaged and lower your body slowly to the ground. Your chest has to come as close as possible to the ground never touching it. Return back to your starting position by fully extending your arms and repeat.
If you are not strong enough to do five push-ups in this position, then you may need to build some upper body strength by elevating your hands on a bench or a stable chair. Of course a chair with no wheels! If push-ups are too easy for you, then challenge yourself by elevating your feet on a chair or bench.
You can even add a weight vest to increase the difficulty level. Try to do three sets of 12 push-ups before adding the weight vest. Its really no point being ambitious by adding the weight vest and not strong enough to even do 3 push-ups.
5. Split Squat
Squat exercises have always been great for general strength and conditioning of the body. In order to develop athleticism and minimizing training imbalances, it’s very important to incorporate single-leg movements.
A stationary lunge split squat does just that. This workout helps to fire up stabilizing muscles of the hip and trunk while training your quads, glutes and hamstrings. So this workout focuses on
the lower-body strength. The single-leg nature of this exercise helps improve balance and increase stability and flexibility in the hips.
Start with standing on your feet shoulder-width apart. Next take a step forward with your right foot and a larger step backwards with your left foot. Keep your right foot flat and your left foot should be resting on your toes. Descend into a lunge position as you can see in the image above. That is your starting position.
Start by bringing your back knee lower to the ground and not touching it. Pause for a second and bring back to your starting position. Make sure that your upper body remains square all the time. Do not lean forward or backward while executing the move. That’s it! Repeat this by doing three sets of 6-8 reps on your right leg and then for your left leg.
Here is a video demonstration of this workout. This video, also shows how to do it with dumbbells.
6. Lateral Squat
This kind of squat involves two movements – a lateral lunge and a squat.This is a very easy exercise to execute. The side-to-side movement provides great stretch on the groin and inner thighs while training the hips, thighs and trunk to work together.
Begin by standing with your feet wider than your shoulders. Keep your heels flat and toes pointed forward. Then push your hips backwards and start leaning to your left by bending your left leg.
Your right leg will feel the stretch. The image above shows the ending stance of this workout. You don’t really need to add any weight unless if you want to go into advance mode.
Return to a standing position and descend to your right side this time. Perform three sets of 6 reps on either side.
7. Hip Extension (Glute Bridges/Hip Thrusts)
The glutes is one of the most important muscle groups. Its also one of the most neglected exercise as you can hardly see anyone doing it in the gym. The primary focus of this workout is the mid section of your body.
Most of the time, you are giving much movement to your upper and lower torso totally neglecting your hips. This will probably cause injury to your hips, knees and ankles due to lack of movement to your hips.
I’ll explain the movement for the hip thrusts. Begin by resting your back on a bench with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Your arms should rest on the bench and stay relaxed throughout the routine. You are going to use your glutes by squeezing and pushing through your heels to rise up into a bridge position. with the hips fully extended.
At this stage your knees are bent almost 90 degrees. Holding this position for a while will engage your glutes, core and hamstrings. Lower the hips down and repeat three sets of 8 reps.
For the glute bridges workout, you just have to perform the same movement while resting your shoulders on the floor with your arms spread wide for balance. There is a slight difference between this two workouts.
Below is a great video that explains the difference between glute bridges and hip thrusts. Both of them primarily focus your hip.