Running Dirty. Eating Clean. Loving Life.

3 Exercises Everyone Should Do – November Blogging Challenge #28

When I interviewed for my personal training job at the YMCA, one of the questions I was asked was “What are your 3 favorite exercises for clients and why?”  The first 3 exercises to pop out of my mouth – Squats, Push ups, and Planks.  So why were these three the first to pop into my head? They all use multiple muscle groups giving a great full body workout without much equipment needed, there are a million different variations to switch things up to avoid boredom and add a little muscle confusion into the mix, and most importantly, they can be modified so that almost everyone can do them.  My answer must have been a good one since I walked out of the interview with a job offer.  So what makes each of these exercises so special?

Squats

Muscles used – Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings and Calves as well as the core and postural muscles

Why I love it- You work almost all of the large muscles in the body, making this one of the most beneficial lifts you can do to build strength, and stability.  It’s also functional.  You squat down to tie your shoe, pick things up off the ground, get in and out of a chair.  Doing this exercise regularly will actually make your life a lot easier.  And you’ll have a killer ass and legs as some fun little perks.  Women, you’re not off the hook for this one. Recent studies have shown that squats may be even better than kegels for strengthening those pelvic floor muscles post baby.  Guys, it will help stimulate hormone production, so you can reap the benefits not only for lower body muscle gain, but that increase in testosterone will help with getting maximum results from your upper body lifting as well.

Push Ups

Muscles Used – Chest, shoulders, triceps, back, and abs, as well as the muscles in your forearms, hands, and legs

Why I love it –  They can be done anytime, anywhere, by anyone.  Like squats, many muscle groups, making it a great upper body workout. By changing how you place your arms and hands, you can focus on different muscles.  The benefit of using push ups in place of its weight exercise, the chest or bench press is that because you are up on your hands, you utilize the shoulder and upper back muscles as well, decreasing the risk of developing a muscle imbalance between the big powerful chest muscles and the much smaller and relatively upper back muscles.  This is a great exercise for women since it can easily be modified by performing on the knees if upper body strength is lacking to do weighted chest exercises.  It also feels pretty freaking awesome the first time you bust out a couple of single-handed ones.

Planks

Muscles Used – Abs, back, arms, and legs.

Why I love it – This may be the best core exercise out there.  A strong core doesn’t just mean rock hard abs.  By strengthening your core, you can reduce the risk of many common injuries, such as low back pain.  It improves balance and posture.  I can not go on enough about the importance of strong core muscles (just ask my clients).  So get out that yoga mat and get going on those planks.  Like the other two exercises, there are a number of variations out there from side planks to superman that will help strengthen those muscles around the mid-section and increase your overall strength and flexibility.

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