The 4 most effective exercises!

People are always wanting to know what exercises give the most results. Right off I can tell you that any exercise that allows you to make it more challenging as you go is a winner. Once an exercise seems easy I can guarantee you the results will stop coming. Here are a few exercises that use a lot of muscles (which means they burn a lot of calories) but can be adapted for you ever changing fitness level.

1. Squats – Are you surprised, maybe disappointed? We may not all love squats but they do wonders for creating a lean  strong shape to our legs. They use all the major muscle groups of our legs and can be adjusted to your fitness level. For beginners, body weight squats work great. as you progress add free weights or a barbell. The key to a good squat is to maintain a flat back (no hunching) and making sure to sit far enough back that your knees don’t go over your toes. You should literally feel like you are about to sit in a chair.

2. Push-ups – You knew this one would be in here right? This move works your chest, shoulders, triceps, back and core -so it has to be on of the top go-to exercises. Again form is key for a pushup to be worth it’s effort. The best way to get results from a push-up is to get on those toes. I understand this may not be possible at first, but many women get stuck on those knee push-ups and feel they can never progress. In fact the transition from knee to full on toes is hard. An intermediate step is to have one knee down and one knee up. Try that for a week or two and then start with the full toe pushup- even if it is just one or two it is a start! The tragedy in knee pushups forever is they don’t really work your core which is a big reason why pushups are such a great all over exercise. Again progression is key and once toe push-ups become easy (and yes this is very possible) you can begin decline pushups with your feet on a bench. This is absolutely possible – I used to be a knee push-up girl too, but now I do decline pushups and so can you!

3. Plank – I can’t say enough about how effective stabilization exercises such as the basic plank. Say good bye to those boring crunches! Planks are a great way to strengthen your core (keep in mind that we must burn enough calories and eat right to melt the fat that covers that strong core – but that’s another post I guess 🙂 ). Again, you can begin the plank with your knees  on the ground but just as I said with the push-up the real bang will com when those toes are on the floor. Again, one knee down and one up is a great intermediate step. Eventually you will be balancing those toes on a Bosu while holding the plank!

4. Lunges – I know -aren’t squats a lot like lunges? Kind of- but lunges do a little better job at targeting those inner thighs. Again adding appropriate resistance is key. Walking lunges are great b/c they make you really work on your balance which engages those stabilizing muscle which can get  unused if we are not careful.

If you are looking for a basic at-home workout to get you started or for those days you don’t make it to the gym start with this plan!

3-5 min warm up (jog in place)

12 squats

12 push-ups

12 lunges (each leg)

30 sec plank hold (making sure to keep your glutes down so body is in a straight line)

Repeat this sequence 3 times. If 12 repetitions feel easy it is time to add some weight or get on those toes!

Try this plan the next time you need an at home workout solution!

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