There are some exercises that I just love and will always go to! Believe it or not, my top 5 exercises are very familiar ones that may seem simple, but are very versatile and effective. So here are my top 5 exercises, and why I love them:
5. Step-ups: Step ups are an awesome way to get cardio, strength (leg work) and core in! You can use an exercise step, a bleacher, bench, curb or your staircase at home, so there's no excuse for lack of equipment. Start off with a simple up up down down pattern and increase the speed of this movement. Try toe taps for cardio, agility and balance or alternating knees to strengthen hips and core. You can add lateral movements for obliques and abductors, jumps for power and strength and so much more! So as Martin used to say, "Get to stepping!"
4. Squat - Who doesn't love to squat?! The squat is such a versatile exercise that you can incorporate it with just about anything to create a great workout! With or without equipment, the squat is great for strength, cardio, core, balance and toning! Try squat jumps (ouch), squat jacks, step and squat, plie' squats, single-leg squats, sumo squats... the list goes on. You can use equipment such as the bosu, weights, plates, bands, medicine balls and more to challenge your strength, balance and stamina in a squat. Or, combo your squat with a kick, press, punch, lift, row and other movements for a full body workout! And if you need a more challenging way to squat it out, you can always do the squat song, "Flower" where you will "Bring Sally up and bring Sally down"! Talk about a squat challenge!
3. Forearm plank - Also referred to as an elbow plank or low plank, this exercise is simply awesome for the entire core! It also recruits the trapezius, deltoid, and rhomboid muscles. In a forearm plank, you can simply hold it- which is definitely a challenge - or, you can add forward rocks, lifting legs, knee taps, side taps, spidermans and so much more to increase the challenge and intensity of the exercise. Have fun with a walking plank (forearm to high plank). Add a low jack or plank jack for cardio and core. Spice it up by combining a low jack, knee tap and side rock to really strengthen your core! But remember to keep that booty down!
2. Pull-ups/ Chin ups- This is my go-to exercise to get strong! It is an absolute full body workout. You must recruit your core in order to pull yourself up above a bar. Whether it's overhanded (pull-up) or underhanded (chin-up), you will recruit and use muscles of the back, chest, abs, arms to accomplish this task. If you're not quite ready to go for a full pull-up, then there are great machines that can assist you with this task. You can also work your way up by using a steady bar (bench press) or playground to do incline chin ups. If you want to increase the difficulty, you can use resistance bands, add weights or add movements like a chin up leg-lift combo! But remember to start where you are!
1. Push-ups - Push ups are probably my favorite exercise of all. While most people are doing a push-up for the effect that it has on the arms and the chest, I love this exercise for what it does for the entire body - especially the CORE! Because a push-up begins in high plank, you must recruit and make use of your core to hold this position. Try starting in a high plank, then take your time to lower down slowly and hover over the floor for just a second. While your arms and chest are working, you are also engaging your core to sustain that position. The wonderful thing about a push up is that you can add on to it to create a full body workout. Try a push-up with a leg lift to add in low back, booty and core work. Take a stab at a push-up with a plank jack to get core and cardio. Combine a push-up with a side plank to work on core, arm strength and balance. Don't forget the 8-count push-up, which is one of my favorite variations (especially for those who hate push-ups). There are so many options with push-ups and the possibilities are endless when you consider position (incline, decline, parallel, handstand), apparatus (wall, ball, weights, bands, blocks) and style (triceps, wide-arm, one-arm, diamond). Take Salt-N-Pepa's advice and "Push It!"