The 7 Most Effective Exercises
Exercise, according to experts, has no magic: you get out of it what you put in. That does not imply that you must exercise for several hours per day. All it means is that you'll have to work smarter.
Experts believe, however, that not all exercises are produced equal. Some are actually more effective than others, whether they target different muscle groups, are appropriate for a broad range of fitness levels, or aid in calorie burn.
So, what are the most effective exercises? We asked four fitness experts for their recommendations and assembled a list of their favorites.
- Taking a walk
Cardiovascular exercise, which strengthens the heart and burns calories, should be included in every exercise program. Rolling, on the other hand, is something you can do anywhere, at any time, with nothing more than a comfortable pair of shoes.
Walking isn't just for beginners: even the fittest people will benefit from it.
According to Robert Gotlin, DO, director of orthopaedic and sports rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, "a brisk walk will burn up to 500 calories per hour." Since it takes 3,500 calories to lose a pound, you'd lose a pound for every seven hours you exercise if you didn't do something else.
However, don't go from sitting on the couch to walking for an hour in one day. Beginners can begin by walking for five to ten minutes at a time, eventually increasing to at least 30 minutes per session, according to Richard Cotton, a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise.
Don't go over five minutes at a time," he advises. Another tip is to increase the length of your walks before raising the pace or incline.
- Interval training is a form of exercise that is done in
Add interval training to your cardiovascular routine will improve your fitness and help you lose weight, whether you're a novice or a seasoned exerciser, a walker or an aerobic dancer.
Cotton explains that "varying the speed during the exercise session helps the aerobic system to adjust." "The more efficient your aerobic system is, the more calories you can eat."
Pushing the speed or tempo for a minute or two, then easing off for two to ten minutes is the way to go (depending on how long your total workout will be, and how much time you need to recover). Carry on like this for the duration of the workout.
- Squats are a form of exercise where you squat
Experts agree that strength training is important. "The greater your capacity to burn calories," Cotton says, "the more muscular fitness you have."
Strength-training exercises that target various muscle groups were also favored by our experts. Squats are an excellent example, since they work the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteals.
They give you the most bang for your buck because they use the most muscle groups at the same time," says David Petersen of Oldsmar, Fla.
But, as Petersen points out, "form is everything."
How you do the exercise is what makes it practical," he says. "It's no longer usable if you have poor technique."
Maintain proper posture by keeping your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Cotton advises bending knees and lowering the back: "As far as possible, the knee should stay over the ankle."
Imagine you're sitting in a chair, but the chair isn't there," Gotlin suggests.
Physical therapist Adam Rufa of Cicero, New York, believes that working with a real chair can be beneficial.
Work on getting in and out of a real chair properly first," he advises. If you've mastered that, try tapping your bottom on the chair and then rising. Then, without the chair, repeat the motion.
Gotlin sees a number of patients with knee pain, and most of the time, quadriceps weakness is the cause. Strengthening your quads with squats can help if you're having trouble going down stairs, he says.
- Lunges are a form of exercise.
Lunges, including squats, work all of the main lower-body muscles: gluteals, quadriceps, and hamstrings.
According to Petersen, a lunge is a perfect exercise because it "mimics life, it mimics walking."
Cotton claims that lunges are a step up from squats and can help with balance as well.
Take a huge step forward, holding your spine in a neutral place, and bend your front knee to about 90 degrees, concentrating on keeping your weight on your back toes and lowering your back leg's knee toward the floor.
Imagine sitting on your back foot," Petersen says, "and the trailing leg is the one you need to lie down on."
Try stepping back and out to each side to make a lunge even more practical, according to Rufa.
Life isn't linear; it's multiplanar," says Rufa, and the most effective exercises are the ones that train you for the different roles you'll be in during the day.
If performed correctly, the push-up will simultaneously strengthen the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core trunk muscles.
Anytime you have the pelvis and the core [abdominals and back] in a suspended position, you have to rely on your own adherent power to stabilize you," Petersen says. "I'm very much into planking movements, almost yoga-type moves."
Push-ups can be performed at any fitness stage, according to Cotton: "For anyone who is just getting started, start pushing from the kitchen counter height." Then progress to a desk, a chair, the floor with bent knees, and the floor on your toes."
From a face-down position, place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, place your toes or knees on the floor, and try to create a perfect diagonal with your body, from the shoulders to the knees or feet, while keeping your glutes and abdominals engaged. Then lower and raise your body by bending and straightening your elbows, while keeping your thigh muscles engaged.
Once the shape is fine, try the "T-stabilization" push-up: Get into push-up position, then do your push-ups with one arm raised out to the side, balanced on the other three limbs without rotating your hips.
- Crunches in the abdomen
Experts agree that when done correctly, the familiar crunch (along with its variations) is a good option for targeting solid, flat abs.
Cotton recommends starting with a regular crunch by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your fingertips supporting your head, then contracting your abdominals and peeling your head (tucking your chin slightly), spine, shoulders, and upper back off the floor.
Keep your head out of your line of vision to avoid pulling your neck forward; don't hold your breath; and keep elbows out of your line of vision to keep your chest and shoulders open.
Petersen, for one, instructs his clients to do crunches with their feet off the floor and knees bent, claiming that doing so causes many people to arch their backs and engage their hip flexors.
Crunches can be great," Petersen says, "but if done incorrectly, with the back arching, they can potentially weaken the abdominals."
Take a regular crunch and rotate the spine toward one side as you curl off the floor, says Cotton, to work the obliques (muscles on the sides of your waist).
Twist until you come up," he advises, "because the obliques are what lift you up."
But, as Cotton points out, crunches alone won't get you a flat stomach; burning belly fat necessitates the well-known formula of burning more calories than you take in.
Crunches work the ab muscles; [they're] not to be confused with exercise that burns fat over the abs," he says, adding, "That's the biggest exercise myth going."
This exercise works all of the main muscles of the upper back, as well as the biceps, giving you a lot of bang for your buck.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees, and flex forward at the hips. (If you have trouble doing this exercise standing up, support your weight by sitting on an incline bench, facing backward.) Tilt your pelvis slightly forward, engage the abdominals, and extend your upper spine to provide support (Beginners should perform the move without weights.)
According to the experts, these seven exercises are excellent, effective choices; however, like just about every strength or resistance exercise, the question is not so much whether the exercise works but how well you perform it, says Petersen.
"Both exercises do what they're meant to do when done with proper technique," Petersen says.
The problem is that poor form can alter the whole workout, placing more focus or even pressure on areas that aren't intended, which can be harmful rather than beneficial.
It's a good idea to seek the guidance of a fitness trainer, whether it's a personal trainer or a gym trainer, particularly if you're a novice, to ensure your type is healthy and right.