The only five moves you need
There are approximately 432 876 different exercises you can do in the gym (give or take – estimations may be subject to exaggeration) which means at the end of a long day, deciding on what to do for your workout can prove difficult. If you’re looking for an effective sesh then personal trainer Andy Anderson thinks these important moves are your best bet. Just five exercises to work your body from head to toe, he gave us the rundown on his go-to exercises.
Everybody needs to learn to love squats as well as learn how to perform them. Squats are one of the classic exercises that work the whole body with a focus on the lower body muscles. Squats mainly target the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps but they also help strengthen the core and back muscles. Squats will help you gain strength and power.
There are many squat variations that can help you build your agility and endurance as well – like squat jumps, squat jacks, deep squats, pile squat etc. Squats produce the best results when high resistance, low reps and high sets are used.
How to perform the perfect squat:
- Start with either your hands on your hips or with a barbell placed on the meaty part of your upper back.
- Stand with your feet hip width apart and then take a deep breath.
- While slowly exhaling, gently lower yourself by bending your hips and knees.
- This should be done without curling or arching your back. It is important that you keep your head aligned as though you are looking straight ahead.
- Go down as low as you can comfortably go, aim for below parallel.
- Hold this position and take a deep breath.
- While slowly exhaling return to the starting position.
- Remember to squeeze your leg muscle when coming back up and also do not let you knees buckle inwards.
When a trainer says the word ‘burpees’, people usually groan. That’s because they are hard but they’re also awesome.
Burpees are a great bodyweight exercise that strengthen all the muscles in the body with specific emphasis on the pectorals, quadriceps, glutes and shoulders. Burpees do not only strengthen these muscles but they also improve the body’s endurance, agility and power. Plus, they burn loads of calories as an added bonus.
How to perform the perfect burpee:
- Start in the pushup position with your hands under your shoulders, body rigid and bottom down.
- Do one pushup, bringing your chest to the floor.
- Then jump your feet into your hands so that you are in a frog position.
- Then jump and reach your hands up to the ceiling.
- Then come back down into frog and then pushup position and repeating from the start.
- Remember to do the full pushup and jump up as high as possible at the end.
Clean and press
The clean and press is hard to master but a great, full body move. This exercise builds power and strength in the muscles by using resistance. Every single muscle in the body is employed to complete this exercise which is what makes it so great.
You might think that only Olympic lifters use the clean and press but they use it because it’s a great all-round exercise and so you should use it too – learn from the best. The clean and press produces the best results when high resistance, low reps and high sets are used.
How to perform the perfect clean and press:
- Start by standing with feet shoulder width apart and hold the barbell in front of you with an overhand grip.
- Bend at your knees, keep your back straight, and bring the bar to your shins, just like a deadlift.
- Then pull the bar by extending your knees and thrusting with your body until the bar comes up to your shoulders.
- From your shoulders push the bar straight above your head so that you are standing tall.
- Remember to keep your back straight during the deadlift and don’t lock out any of your joints.
Everybody loves the classic plank and for good reason – it builds core strength. But this variation adds extra benefits to the beloved plank. Plank jacks are great for building whole body balance, strength and endurance. After a few reps you will be puffing (burning calories) and your muscles will be burning (building muscle). Plank jacks specifically target the core muscles, hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps. Plank jacks produce the best results when high reps and high sets are used.
How to perform the perfect plank jack:
- Start in plank position, with elbows on the ground, hands clasped together, body rigid and bottom down.
- Begin with your feet together and then jump them outwards and then back together.
- You want to do this movement as fast as possible without compromising your plank position.
- Remember to jump your feet out as wide as possible and don’t let your bottom come up but keep it in line with your body.
This high intensity exercise is great for the aerobic and anaerobic systems. It builds endurance, power and agility through its plyometric aspects and on also builds lean muscle through resistance. Russian lunges target the lower body muscles specifically the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Your heart rate will be soaring and your muscles burning in no time with this exercise. Russian lunges produce the best results when some resistance, high reps and high sets are used.
How to perform the perfect Russian lunge:
- Start standing with your hands on your hips or holding onto some dumbbells.
- Then lunge one leg forward, jump straight up and switch legs landing on the other leg back in the lunge position.
- Jump again and switch back.
- Continue this motion as fast as your can keeping your back straight.
- Remember to lunge down close to the ground and always keep your back straight, don’t lean forwards.
Want to up the ante?
If you’re looking to make these moves more challenging, Anderson suggests the following:
- Turn your basic squat into a tricky variation: Squat jacks, squat jumps, pile squat, smith machine squats, deep squats, box squats, pistol squats, squat pulses.
- Burpee variations: Reverse burpees–
- Begin standing with your arms extended over your head.
- Bend at the knees and lower your bottom all the way to the floor.
- Roll onto your back with your knees tucked into your torso.
- Roll back and then forward, using momentum as you do so.
- Rise back up to a standing position and jump as high as you can.
- Clean and press variations: Clean and jerk, clean high pull, snatch high pull, single arm dumbbell snatch, clean and snatch.
- Plank jack variations: Plank hold with a weight, plank step outs, feet elevated plank, plank with kickbacks.
- Russian lunges variations: Russian lunges to jump squats, Russian lunges with pulses.
Andy Anderson owns Ultimate You, a personal training business that has helped thousands of people to transform their mind, body and life outlook and become lean, energetic and healthy. Ultimate You’s philosophy is that weight loss and fitness can’t be achieved just with a physical training program, mindset and nutritional habits also need to be addressed to achieve long term change in a positive way. http://ultimateyou.com.au