Fitness, Health

My most favorite exercises – for each body part

 

There are many exercises out there and while it’s not necessarily a waste of time doing those, I still believe we’re too busy to spend time and energy on something that isn’t as effective. Some exercises are better than others because: 1) they work specific muscle more efficiently; 2) they combine few muscle groups and allow you to tone up your whole body in a short workout; 3) you’re less likely to injure yourself. Rotate these exercises weekly and you’ll see they’ll bring great results! Slowly add more weight to each workout.

I suggest doing progression load, which means increasing weights every time you lift. Increasing muscle mass in your body will speed up metabolism, will make you burn more calories at rest, and will strengthen your bones. However you still can choose to do these with low weights.

There are a lot of videos and pictures with explanations on how to perform each exercise I write about here. When I was starting out, I’d save Youtube videos with those exercises I wanted to perform to my favorites or take screenshots, and every time before I workout I’d go over them to know how to perform it so I don’t have to stop too often to see how each exercise is done until I remembered them. I simply would google “how to do pull ups” and get many videos and photos with explanations. I will be posting pictures of me performing these workouts soon and I’ll try to explain them here as best as possible. 

Let’s begin!

Back

#1: Bent-over barbell lift. 

Start with lower weights if you’re beginner and progress to heavy, but always be more careful when it comes to back. You don’t want to strain anything, so take it gentle and slowly add more weights. 

Holding a barbell with grip (palms facing down), bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forward, by bending at the waist, and keeping your back straight until it’s almost parallel to the floor.

#2 Pull ups

There are few reasons to love them, one is because it works out your arms, chest, and abs, and two is that you don’t need gym for that. Just take a walk to the closest playground and do some pull-ups and if you have kids, you’ll kill two birds with one stone as they will enjoy time at a park.

Leap up and grip the bar with your hands, shoulder width apart and your palms facing away from you. Hang with your arms fully extended. Pull up, engaging your core, and move slowly back until your arms are extended again. 

#3:  Dumbbell romanian deadlift. 

You can do this one without weights, or grab any weight at home like water bottles and feel your back stretching and warming up. Again, be careful not to overdo, no fast jerky movements please!

Begin in a standing position with a dumbbell in each hand with your knees slightly bent. Bring your butt as far as possible. Lower the weights for 5 seconds and when they’re below your knees, thrust your hips forward and return to starting position.

It’s important to do at least one lower back exercise a week. Moms who carry their kids a lot, older people or those who work physical jobs may experience back pain so working on strengthening your back is important. 

Shoulders

I remember a long, long time ago I never understood why to work out shoulders. As a woman I thought all I needed is to exercise “problem areas” (even if they weren’t such a problem) like butt, arms and tummy however once I got into serious fitness and started growing my muscles, I saw how absolutely gorgeous my whole arms look because of my toned, lifted shoulders. It’s time to wear tank tops!

#1 Barbell push press

Did amazing job to my upper shoulders! Also, works out many muscle groups at the same time.

Grab a barbell and hold it with a grip. Pull the barbell just above shoulders and elbows close to your body. Press the weight over your head and come back to starting position. 

#2 Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Great movement for the middle delts.

Grab dumbbells, and raise your arms out to the sides until they’re shoulder level and lower back to the starting position. 

Chest

#1 Chest press- of course! Do it with barbell or dumbbells.

Grasp weights and lie on a flat bench with your feet firmly placed on the floor. Push the weights up so that your arms are directly over your shoulders. Lower the wight down. 

#2. Push ups. Just like pull ups, they work efficiently many muscle groups and can be done anywhere.

Start by positioning yourself on the floor with your face down, your palms on the floor. Push yourself up keeping your body in a straight line. If you are beginner in fitness, I suggest doing them with your knees bent and positioned on the floor as it will be easier to push up.

Abs – my favorite! I have another article on how to build abs or if you’re a new mama then how to get rid of diastasic recti and get abs postpartum. 

My most favorite abs exercises are:

#1. Planks – there are many kinds of them, such as knee plank, forearm plank, reverse plank.

To do a “classic” plank, start on the floor on your hands and knees. Lower your forearms to the floor with elbows positioned under your shoulders and your hands shoulder-apart. Step your feet back, and maintain a straight line from heels through the top of your head, looking down at the floor. Tighten your abs “in” and hold for as long as you can.

#2.Reverse curl and Lift  (if you don’t have abs separation):

Lie on your back with your legs completely straight. Place both hands behind your head. Bring your knees in towards your chest as you lift your hips and rotate your pelvis towards your chest and return to starting position. 

#3. Leg lifts

Press lower back into the floor, hold your hands behind your back or butt. Pick up your legs at 90 degrees and keep them as straight as possible. While lowering legs, stop once you feel your back lifting off the floor.

Triceps 

#1. Standing dumbbell tricep extension. 

Stand up with a dumbbell held by both hands. Your feet should be shoulder apart. Slowly, using both hands grab the dumbbell and lift over your head until both arms are fully extended and go back to starting position. 

Biceps 

#1: barbell / dumbbell curl is the best to build toned biceps, different modifications can be done.  

To do a “classic” dumbbell curl:

Stand up straight, and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Exhale and curl the weights until there contracting your biceps. Inhale and and slowly begin to lower dumbbells.

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Legs:

 

#1. Rear leg extensions with resistance bands

Single leg lunges with or without weights (make sure to warm up very well as it puts a lot of pressure on lower back). Your butt will be on fire!

Place the resistance band around the ankle of the right foot and in the arch of the left foot. Step left foot back until resistance band is taut, and bend your tight knees slightly. Keeping the left leg straight, press the foot back ad off the floor. Also don’t forget to keep your core engaged! 

#3. Bridge (when you perform this one, try to squeeze your glutes as much as you can).

Lie on your back with your hands at your sides and knees bent. Raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders. Hold for bit and go to the starting position. If using weights, hold weight with your arms. 

For cardio, choose anything you enjoy – cycling, running, walking, HIIT (high intensity workouts such as jumping on a jumping rope). Make sure to warm up before and stretch very well in the end of workout to calm you heart and prevent injuries. Flexibility training has lots of benefits and no matter if you’re there to build mass or lose weight, you should always include a least 10 mins of flexibility training / stretches to your workout. 

Happy training!

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