The seemingly endless number of exercises available is enough to make your head spin. Sure, you know the basics, but do you know which exercises are the best ones for a full-body workout?
In general, a strong candidate for the "best" title will be any easy-to-learn exercise that targets multiple muscle groups and gives you the practical strength and muscle tone to meet your fitness goals. Exercises that don't require fancy, expensive equipment earn extra credit.
Here are seven of the best exercises for athletes and fitness junkies looking for a simple and effective full-body workout.
The push-up might be old school, but it's effective.
There's a reason the push-up is introduced to most folks in elementary school. It works a wide range of muscles, though they primarily target the chest, triceps and core. Individuals typically lift about 60 percent of their body weight when completing a push-up.
There are many different variations of the push-up, so take your pick. Just make sure that push-ups are a part of your training.
The squat is another classic lifting exercise that is especially beneficial to the lower body. The exercise directly works the hips, hamstrings and glutes. It also indirectly strengthens your core and even your upper body if done with weight.
Amateur weightlifters oftentimes focus on their upper body and neglect the lower half. Don't fall for that. Any training regimen should work the entire body and squats are an essential piece. They're that good for you.
This brilliantly simple exercise isn't for the fitness weary. The exercise does triple duty by extensively working the quadriceps, the glutes and the hamstrings. Still want more? Hold a dumbbell in each hand while performing the lunge.
Like most exercises, lunges can be executed in various ways. The traditional lunge is completed in a stationary position working one leg at a time. Want a change of scenery? Pick a target, say, 50 yards away, and lunge your way toward it. Either way, your legs will be begging for mercy as you finish up.
A 2010 study by the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy found, that of the 10 exercises it tested, the pike roll-out combination was the most effective for core muscles.
To do it, grab a Swiss ball (also known as an exercise ball or stability ball). Get into a push-up position with your feet on top of the ball. Begin by using your core muscles to lift your butt into the air, over your torso. This is the pike portion of the exercise. As you bring your body back down, allow your body to move along the ball until it's under your knees and your arms are now out in front of you. This is the roll-out.
Together, the pike roll-out combination is a challenging exercise that benefits nearly every muscle in your core.