Five of the Best Exercises You Could Ever Wish For
We all know the importance of exercise for our health, fitness, and general well-being, yet some of us don’t quite realise just how many options they actually have available to them when it comes down to exercising and staying in shape.
Take weight and resistance training for instance. Weight training has a number of benefits as it helps to build muscle, it helps to improve strength, it helps to burn fat, and it can help to improve our immune systems.
Whether you’re looking to simply tone up a little, or jump into full on “beast-mode” and bulk up big time this year, you need to know which exercises are the best, and which are the worst. For that reason, here’s a look at five of the best exercises you could ever wish for.
The bench press is ideal as it will target the chest and can be performed with a barbell or dumbbells. Here’s a look at how to perform a barbell bench press:
- Begin by laying down on a flat bench with a barbell racked up above you. Take a wide grip just slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and grasp the barbell with both hands.
- Un-rack the bar and hold it above your chest with your arms fully extended, before slowly lowering it downwards until it grazes your chest.
- Pause for a second and try to really squeeze the chest before slowly lifting the barbell back up to the initial starting position.
- Repeat for as many reps as necessary.
(Make sure to do it safely)
Squats are great as they target many different muscle groups in the legs and are ideal for building muscle mass. Here’s how they’re performed:
- Begin by entering a squat rack and positioning your body so that the barbell, which should be racked up around should height, is now behind your neck.
- Facing forward, take the bar with both hands and hold it slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Position the bar so that it sits on your upper trap muscles just below your neck.
- Stand with your feet just wider than shoulder-width, and point your toes facing outwards slightly.
- Next, un-rack the weight and slowly walk backwards in the rack, with the bar on your back.
- Facing dead ahead, slowly squat down so that your knees form a 90 degree angle to the floor.
- Using your legs, slowly stand back up to the starting position and repeat for as many reps as necessary.
- When you’re finished, carefully re-rack the weight.
Push ups are another exercise that are great for targeting the chest and the triceps, and what’s more is that they don’t even need any equipment to complete:
- Begin by laying down in a planking position, so that your back is facing the ceiling and your legs are fully stretched behind you.
- Next, place the palms of your hands flat on the ground just wider than your chest, and then slowly lower your body to the ground.
- Stop an inch or two above the floor and then push your body back up to the starting position. You should feel a deep stretch in your chest.
- Repeat for as many reps as necessary.
See our guide on push up variations here.
Deadlifts are great for working the back and the legs at the same time, but they are dangerous, so make sure you get your form right before going any further. Here’s what to do:
- Start off by standing with your feet just wider than hip width apart, with your toes tucked underneath a barbell.
- Grab the bar with an overhand grip just wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your head straight and making sure not to arch your back, drive your heels down onto the floor, and lift your hips and your chest at the same time, pulling the bar up just in front of your shins.
- Stand up with the weight, making sure to keep your arms fully extended and your head straight. Extend your hips at the top and pinch your shoulder blades together ever so slightly.
- Slowly lower the bar back down to the starting position, making sure not to arch the back, and repeat as necessary.
Pull ups are fantastic for adding mass to the back and they too are perfect examples of body weight exercises. Here’s how they’re done.
- Grab a pull up bar with your palms facing your body and a grip just closer than shoulder width.
- Next, keeping your body as straight as possible and your arms fully extended, try to stick your chest out and create a slight curve in the back.
- Next simply pull your body up in the air until your chin is at least level with the pull up bar.
- Hold for a second and really try to squeeze the back muscles before slowly lowering yourself back down to the starting position and repeating for as many reps as you can manage.
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