What’s the best exercise that works the entire body? It’s one of the first questions people ask when they meet their personal trainers. This question is one of the most difficult to answerFirst, you won’t get the results you want from any exercise unless your diet and sleep habits are in check, but further, an accurate answer really depends on four things:
1. What do you really need?
2. What’s your goal?
3. What kind of training experience do you have?
4. What kind of equipment do you have access to?
The bottom line: As much as it would be more efficient to say that there IS one exercise that works the entire body, it would be misleading. There are a myriad of great exercises, and the best ones for you depend on your answers to the four questions above. What you’ll find in this post is that this is what personal trainers all over the US have considered to be the top four big-bang-for-your-buck movement patterns and how you can add them to your routine
1. Kettlebell or Dumbbell Deadlifts
How to do it: Grab a kettlebell or dumbbell with both hands and hold it at arms length in front of hips. Bend at hips and knees to lower the weight to the floor. Without allowing lower back to round, pull torso back and up, thrust hips forward, and stand up with the kettlebell or dumbbell. Squeeze glutes as you perform the movement.
2. Pushups with Hands Elevated
How to do it: Place hands on a box, bench, or step slightly wider than and in line with shoulders. Slowly lower body until your chest nearly touches the bench. Pause at the bottom, and then push back up to the starting position as quickly as possible.
3. Split Squat With Front Foot Elevated
How to do it: Stand in a staggered stance with front foot on a box or step. Your feet should be 2 to 3 feet apart, front knee slightly bent. Slowly lower your body as far as you can. Pause, then push back up to the starting position as quickly as you can. Complete all reps on one side, then do the same number with your other foot forward.
4. Neutral Grip Chin Ups
How to do it: Loop one end of a large exercise band around a chin-up bar and then pull it through the other end of the band, cinching it tightly to the bar. (The thicker the band, the more assistance it will provide.) Grab the bar with a shoulder-width, underhand grip, and place your knees in the loop of the band. Hang at arm’s length. You should return to this position each time you lower your body back down. Perform a chin-up by taking 1 second to pull your collarbone to the bar. As you pull your body up, stick your chest out, squeeze your shoulder blades down and back, and focus on pulling your upper arms downforcefully. Once the top of your chest touches the bar, pause, then take 3 seconds to lower your body back to a dead hang. That’s one rep.
Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps, resting 60 seconds between sets.