13 Great Exercises
Published in the ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, more than 4,000 fitness professionals (including trainers, exercise physiologists, and fitness directors) gave their thoughts on the trends they think will be big in 2018.
Strength training has been a strong trend since the first year of the survey, according to the ACSM. And with good reason: Strength training is an extremely important element of any fitness routine.
Strength training is truly for everyone. I’m talking athletes, grandmas, librarians, yoga buffs, engineers...you name it. Unfortunately, too many women don’t bother to lift weights unless they’re playing a sport or chasing a fitness goal. And that’s a shame, because even if you’re not looking to build bigger muscles or dominate the playing field, there are still plenty of great health-related reasons to strength train on the regular.
Muscle mass also plays a role in maintaining a healthy metabolism (although it won't drastically increase the number of calories your body burns at rest). The truth is, the speed of your metabolism is largely determined by many elements beyond your control.
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR)—the calories you burn just to live—is driven by a host of factors, including your sex, genetics, and age, according to Tim Church, M.D., professor of preventative medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University.
One area that is getting lots of press is functional training. While functional training is nothing new, McCall says there’s going to be greater focus on enhancing strength in all planes of motion. Think about the daily activities, like pushing, pulling, lifting, bending and twisting, you do. “If you’re going to live a healthy, active and injury-free life, functional training needs to be the baseline for everything else you do,” Webster says.
Barbells have become more popular for functional training, but McCall thinks, “We’ll see a re-birth in using medicine balls, resistance bands and plyometric training.” On the other hand, Richey says since more educational courses and trainers are trending toward weightlifting modalities themselves, their clients and classes will soon follow. “There will likely be an uptick in weightlifting, Olympic lifting and kettlebell classes that focus on building strength.” According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association 2017 report, the use of barbells rose 4.3 percent last year and kettebells 3.2 percent.
Let’s look at a variety of exercises we can do anywhere to help with our strength training.
1. Bear Crawl
Embrace that inner grizzly. Starting on the hands and knees, rise up onto the toes, tighten the core, and slowly reach forward with the right arm and right knee, followed by the left side. Continue the crawl for 8-10 reps (or until you scare your roommates off).
2. Reverse Crunch
Lie on your back on the floor, with your legs fully extended out in front of you and arms straight in air, as you see here.
Roll your knees into your chest, and then quickly press them up straight in the air.
Bring your legs back down to that starting position (using the same motion, but in reverse). That’s one rep.
3. Single-leg Glute Bridge.
Lie on your back in a bent-knee position with your feet flat on the floor. Place your feet hip-width apart and toes facing away from you. Contract your abs to flatten your low back to the floor. Raise your hips off the floor, avoiding arching your back. Now lift your left leg off the floor (keeping it straight) until it is parallel with your bent leg. Hold for two seconds. Keeping your left leg raised, lower your hips but do not let them touch the floor. That’s one rep. Repeat for 12 reps each side x 3 sets.
4. Frog Jumps
“Frog jumps are a great lower body condition exercise that teaches explosiveness and safe landing form,” says Lisa Reed, MS, CSCS, USAW. Position your feet three inches wider on each side than you would for a traditional squat. Hinge the hips to squat while keeping a neutral spine, place finger tips on the ground. Placing more emphasis on the heels, extend your hips out and jump up as high as possible with the with your arms extended over head. Softly land from the balls of your feet to your heels and repeat continuously.
5. Triangle Push-Up
Get on the ground in a high plank position. Position your hands in line with your shoulders and under the center of your chest, thumbs and index fingers touching to form a triangle. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels. From here, slowly bend your elbows to lower your body until your chest is a few inches above the ground. Pause, then reverse the movement to return to start.
6. Chair dips
Where there’s a chair, there’s a way! Chair dips are great for strengthening your triceps and can be done just about anywhere. Like other exercises, there are varying techniques that can either increase or decrease resistance. To do the chair dip exercise, place a sturdy chair in an open space. Sit down and wrap your fingers around the front edge of the chair. Slide your body forward until your buttocks is just off the chair. Start with your arms fully extended. Adjust your feet so your heels are a couple of inches in front of your knees. Bend your elbows to lower your body toward the floor. Point your elbows directly behind you; do not let them flare out to the sides. Stop when your elbows are at a 90-degree angle and press back up, straightening your arms.
7. Bridge opposite arm-leg reach
This exercise activates all your abdominal muscles.
How to do it: Lie face up with your left knee bent, left foot flat on the floor, and right leg extended toward the ceiling. Reach toward the ceiling with your the left arm and keep your right arm down by your side. Without moving your hips or shoulders, open your raised leg to the right and raised arm to the left. Now, concentrating on your abs, return your raised leg and arm to the center. Do 10-12 reps, then switch sides and repeat.
8. Three-Point Plank
The traditional plank can be made more difficult by removing a contact point from the floor. From the standard plank position:
Raise one foot off the ground and hold it there.
Make sure to hold your body still and keep your spine in a “neutral” position (no arching or rounding your back).
Avoid tilting sideways.
Switch legs every 5-10 seconds.
Push-ups are a great workout for free for the upper body. The key is using proper technique. Keep your feet together and parallel to each other. Tuck your toes under your feet. Try not to arch your back as you push up, White says. Be sure to exhale as you straighten your arms. Do 8 to 10 reps. Increase the reps as you gain strength. Start with one to two sets and work up to more.
Straddle-ups are one of the best core exercises that you can do, and they do not require any equipment to get started. Lie down on your back with arms overhead and legs straight. Begin the movement by lifting your arms towards the ceiling, then sit up tall and bring your legs up in a wide straddle position. Reach your hands between your legs to touch the floor and pause briefly at the top to fire your abs, hip flexors, quads, and more. Reverse the movement and slowly lower back to the floor, repeating for reps. Be sure to focus on stretching your hips nice and wide at the top, and do your best to keep your back flat to strengthen your core for more advanced strength training work later.
11. Chair Pistol
Stand in front of a chair and extend one leg forward, using your other leg to slowly lower yourself onto the seat
Without using momentum, stand up again and repeat on the other leg
Initially it may be difficult not to plop down, but with practice you will learn to control the descent
Try breathing in as you lower down to brace your abdomen and exhale forcefully to stand up powerfully!
You can progress this move by finding a lower seat or object to squat on
Do 2-3 sets of 5 reps on each leg.
Lie face down on the floor with your arms over your head and legs straight. Lift your arms and legs off the floor and hold for five seconds, then release. Repeat the move slowly.
13. Walk-Out Push-Ups
How to do it: "From a standing position with your feet hip-width apart, bend forward at the hips with a flat back and walk your hands into a high plank position," Yang instructs. "Keep your hands outside your shoulder line to protect your elbows. Maintaining your flat back, gaze in front of your hands as you drop your chest to floor. Then imagine pushing the floor away from you as you walk your hands back toward your feet, standing all the way up."
Why it's effective: This movement does it all: "Walk-outs are fantastic upper body movements, as they push your muscles and condition them to endure, all while building your core stability training," Yang says. (If you need help mastering a push-up, do these 5 moves.)
As Anthony Moore wrote,” Evolving is Painful. That’s Why Most People Don’t Do It.
“Arrogant or critical people are often people with low self-esteem who are afraid of taking risks. That’s because if you learn something new, then you are required to make mistakes to fully understand what you have learned.” -Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad
Evolving is painful.
Becoming a better version of yourself requires time, energy, humility, and study.
Evolving means constantly becoming a child again. You must become a young, teachable student again, over and over.”
Evolving takes effort, your effort, good luck.