While I may have spent a full hour earlier on just back and biceps (I just ran a marathon!!), normally, I’d do more like 1 hour or lifting + 1-2 hours of cardio + another hour of stretching, yoga, etc (something for my mind).
I thought I’d share with you guys my top 6 exercises for when you’re on a time crunch. Incorporate them into a circuit and you’re good to go!!
(As always, check with a doc before making any lifestyle changes.)
Squats- Why? Squats are one of the BEST exercises out there in my opinion. They’re a compound exercise because they work your glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, and lower back. Every single leg day I’ve ever had has included squats in some form or another. Amy makes fun of my big butt and my coach teases me for actually having hamstrings for a reason.
Pushups- Why? Like the squat, the pushup is a compound exercise too. You hit your pecs, triceps, shoulders, and engage your core as you maintain your plank-like position throughout the move. Since the push-up engages multiple muscles and joints in order to push you up, it creates a closed kinetic chain. This mimics how we use our bodies in everyday life. Training with movements like these will improve your performance and reduce your chance of injuries out in the real world. (Unless, of course, you are me and your real world is the gym whether it be for work, workout, or studying. haha) I also include a variation of pushups in every chest day.
Pull ups- Again, pull ups are a compound exercise. You target your lats, posterior deltoid muscles, teres major muscles, lower trapezius, pectoralis minor, levator scapulae, rhomboid, serratus anterior, biceps, brachialis, AND core (for stabilizing your hips and rib cage together and helping your spinal ligaments in resisting the traction of gravity.) I always include these on back days. Are you noticing a pattern yet?
Deadlifts- I always start off back days with one set of low weight, high rep deadlifts. They help strength the muscles you use everyday in lifting- your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. This is a really practical exercise especially if you do them bent legged because they mimic real world motion as well. (Think of lifting a heavy box off the ground.)
Russian Twists- Russian twists are always at the end of any day that I decide to do core (more specifically abdominal) work. Unlike many “traditional” ab exercises, the Russian Twist focus on the ENTIRE core, not just your abs. Every move you make, whether it’s in real life, or in the gym for your 6-pack, require your whole, entire core. A strong core can improve your performance of any activity and reduce your chances of injury.
Lunges- Surprised to see me going back to legs? Like squats, I always do at least one variation of lunges per leg day as well. Lunges target your glutes, quads, and hamstrings while forcing you to utilize balance control.
The pattern I mentioned in #3? I do all of these and/or variations of them to help me be the best me possible. I dare you to try them as well. :) Tell me how it goes.