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The 3 Timeless Exercises You Must Do

The 3 Timeless Exercises You Must Do

First, let’s get something out of the way quickly – this is not a piece designed to suggest that Olympic lifting should always take the place of isometric exercise. On the contrary, the best workout regimen will consist of both. However, if you’re going to learn only a few exercises, you can think of these as the ideal foundation. And this isn’t just for men. Women who want that lean athletic physique popularized on television would do well to pay close attention as these are the exercises that will most effectively build lean muscle while burning the fat (they’re the same exercises most of the Victoria’s Secret Angels swear by). Lastly, and most importantly, if any of these are new to you, focus on getting the form first and only thereafter worry about adding weight.

Squats


Why it’s so important 

This has the top spot on our list for a reason. They work nearly the entirety of your leg – including your quads, hamstrings and glutes – while also engaging your core and a number of smaller stabilizing muscles as well. Other major muscle groups are enlisted to varying degrees depending on the variation of squat performed. Further, squats tend to be the most effective way of increasing the body’s natural production of testosterone and growth hormone – key ingredients in the muscle building process. If there is only one exercise you could do for the rest of your life, this is it. Squats activate more muscle fiber than any other single exercise all the while taxing the body and raising the heart rate substantially.

How to do it

Start without any weight if you’re doing it for the first time. Keep your back straight and with a neutral spine (in other words, don’t overextend). As you continue to stare straight ahead squat down taking care to keep your knees in line with your feet. Do not allow your knees to come forward in front of your feet, rather simulate the motion of sitting down in an invisible chair. For beginners, in fact, it may be helpful to place a bench behind you as you squat so you can actually simulate the brief moment of sitting before resuming the upward motion.

Alternative 

Leg Press – it engages many of the same muscles in the legs, though without the same sort of engagement from the core and the surrounding stabilizing muscles. It is a good substitute for those with a history of knee pain or without a squat rack.

Deadlifts


Why it’s so important 

Putting the name aside (someone clearly did not think through how to make it approachable when naming it), the deadlift is a deceptively complicated exercise that involves just about every major muscle group in the body. The deadlift develops the posterior side of the body (in other words, the back side), so your glutes, thighs and back are all heavily involved alongside all the stabilizing muscles adjacent. Similar to the squat, since it involves so much of the body it is effective at releasing the body’s muscle building hormones. What’s more, deadlifts help ensure proper alignment and posture and are probably the most functional of these three exercises – they help prevent rounded shoulders, aid spine health, and help ensure good back health.

How to do it

Start with your feet about shoulder width apart. Lower your knees directly over your feet and grab the barbell just outside your feet (you can use any grip that feels comfortable). Using your legs (primarily the anterior side) push down through the floor with your heels (being careful to avoid engaging the arms) as you lift the weight off the floor so that the bar clears the knees.

Alternative 

There are a few though no perfect alternatives. The hip thrust is a great means of hitting the glutes while the dumbbell Romanian deadlift is a somewhat easier move to master than the traditional deadlift and still works the hamstrings thoroughly.

Push Ups 


Why it’s so important

While the previous two focused primarily on the lower body, push ups engage the chest, triceps, shoulders and core to varying degrees depending on hand placement. No other exercise can boast involving as much of the upper body in a single movement.

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How to do it

Despite the fact that everyone believes they are well familiar with it, the push up actually is rarely done correctly. One should start with their hands placed slightly wider than shoulder width apart and their body straight, similar to how it might be during a plank. Slowly the individual shoulder lower themselves to the ground and at the same cadence bring themselves back up. A single rep should take between 3 and 4 seconds.

Alternative

Bench Press – you don’t get quite the same core workout but you can go much heavier for those trying to build muscle mass in the chest.

Now that you’ve got the training under control it’s time to make sure you’re on top of nutrition. Click here to learn more about WellPath’s customized nutritional solutions.

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