EXERCISE SMART for a lean and balanced body!

When choosing a method of exercise we need to be smart. Most of us (especially those of us with little ones in the house) are short on time; yet we want to be as fit as possible right? If this is you, then EXERCISE SMART!

In past years a lot of gym goers focused on single muscle/joint exercises also referred to as isolation exercises. These do have a purpose although mainly for recovering from injuries, treating muscle imbalances, or wanting to build a specific muscle, etc.. Although isolation exercises do have a purpose, they are not the best choice for the average exerciser.

In order to exercise the smart way, it is best to have a basic understanding of the muscle groups you are working and what exercises use those muscle groups. You don’t need to be a trainer or spend hours in research about the muscles of the body. Here is  a basic diagram of the muscles the typical person will need to know. In fact you probably know a lot of these already, but here is a refresher.

musclediagramfullbody (2)

Now that you know the muscles it is important to choose exercises that will work as many of these muscle groups at the same time. These movements that require 2 or more muscle groups/joints are known as compound exercises.

Here are the benefits of compound exercises:

1. You burn a lot of calories – the more muscles working the more calories torched!

2. You get cardio in too! Your heart rate increases due to the larger number of muscles being used at once

3. This functional style of training more evenly builds muscle mass

4. You can lift heavier weight

5. You use your core muscles constantly – All of that balancing requires your abs to contract and thus strengthening your core. This means less time focused solely on your abs

6. You gain better stability w/ the muscles and joints – All those smaller stabilizer muscles are getting a workout which will make everyday functional activities easier like picking up kids, cleaning, yard work, etc…

So what does a compound exercise look like? Here are some common ones (along with the muscles they work) that you can begin with on your own for a full body workout. I have also given a link on detailed explanations on how to do each exercise from one of my favorite fitness websites -www.bodybuilding.com.

1. Pullups (Lats, biceps, shoulders or deltoids, trapezius)pullup (2)


2. Pushups (Abs, chest or pectoralis, triceps) pushup (2)


3. Squat (abs, quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves) squat


4. Bench press (pectoralis, triceps) dumbell bench press (2)


5. Deadlift (glutes, quadriceps, abs, erector spinae – muscles that surround the spine) – make sure to start with lightweight and hold your core tight! Get the form right to avoid low back pain the next day! deadlifts (2)


6. Military shoulder press (anterior and medial deltoid, trapezius, triceps, upper pectorals) dumbellshoulder press


7. Bent over row – (Latissimus Dorsi or Lats, posterior deltoids, biceps, trapezius, abs, erector spinae) dumbellbentoverrow


Once you learn these basic compound exercises you can have a great workout that works your core, builds muscle and burns a lot of calories. Always make sure yo use the right amount of weight that challenges you but allows you to keep proper form.  Here is a sample circuit you can follow that should take about 20 min once you know all of the exercises. Add on exercises as you gain more stamina.

Do 12 reps of each exercise and with very little rest time ( about 15-20 seconds) move on to the next exercise.

Circuit – 3X thru

1. Pullups ( you may use a machine which assists you until you gain more strength or a band or a little momentum by jumping up to the bar to get you going)

2.  Dumbell Squats

3. Pushups – (you may start on your knees, but take a leap and try them  on your toes – it works you core WAY more)

4. Deadlifts

5. Shoulder military press

Stick with this for at least 4 weeks (2-3X/week), and be amazed at your progress! Track yourself by taking waist/ hip measurements or body fat  %.  Seeing your progress in numbers is a great motivator! Have a great workout!

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