As you probably already know, exercising is important. It’ll help you stay fit, boost your energy levels and support good health. When it comes to exercise, however, people tend to focus on a single activity and think they’re doing enough. While some exercise is better than none, no one type of activity will take care of all your needs. Adding just a little variety can help you reap maximum benefits from exercising. Consider these ten easy exercises to start.
By far one of the most low-impact exercises you can perform with little to no training, walking tops the list of easy exercises we should all be doing. Besides being a great way to burn fat, keep your bones strong and reboot your energy levels, walking is also one of the most effective activities for preventing and managing chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Even if you regularly engage in more strenuous or vigorous types of exercise, you can never walk enough. For many, walking can be as effective as running, as it can be sustained for much longer periods of time. The faster you walk, the better for your overall health. So, make that extra effort to maintain an average pace of 3-3.5 miles per hour for at least 20 minutes a day.
Though generally classified as a “lower-body” exercise, squats are one of the most effective full-body exercises you can perform. In addition to strengthening the buttocks and quadriceps on the fronts of your thighs, squatting places good stress on your abdominals (‘abs’) and other core muscles. This supports the maintenance of good posture, balance and stability.
Contrary to popular belief, squats aren’t bad for your knees. In fact, the more you squat, the stronger and healthier your knees become. Good form is key! While no equipment is needed to perform squats, you can greatly increase the overall effectiveness of this exercise by using free weights (barbells, dumbbells or kettlebells) or some other form of resistance.
When it comes to the best all-around and easy exercises, push-ups and squats are neck and neck! Push-ups are highly effective at strengthening the chest muscles as well as the shoulders and triceps on the backs of your arms. Just 10-20 can make a world of difference in your upper body strength. But it doesn’t stop there!
Every push-up you perform taxes your entire midsection making this exercise one of the best kept secrets to great abs. Alternate them with planks, and you’ve got yourself a killer combo!
If your upper-body strength is limited, performing standard push-ups might be a bit of a challenge. In this case, start with modified or even wall push-ups and gradually incorporate standard push-ups in between – even if just 2 or 3. Over time, you’ll build up the strength necessary to continuously perform standard push-ups alone.
It’s just something about those numbers, right?
When they’re favorable, you feel on top of the world – even if you don’t look any different.
4. Stiff-Legged Deadlifts
With so much time spent sitting these days the back has become especially vulnerable to chronic pain and injury. This holds especially true for the lower back. Regularly performing stiff-legged deadlifts is a great way to counter this problem.
Also called straight-legged deadlifts, they are not only excellent for building back strength, but they’re also great for strengthening your hamstrings. Hamstrings are the muscles that make up the backs of your thighs and can directly affect your lower back.
To effectively perform stiff-legged deadlifts you’ll need to use free weights, cables, tubing or some other form of resistance. They are all effective. The decision of what to use really comes down to your access, ability and personal preference.
5. Shoulder Press
Also called the “overhead press,” the shoulder press is a super simple exercise that primarily works your shoulder muscles. This exercise will also help you get killer triceps. Vanity aside, whether you’re picking up your child, hanging curtains, washing walls, gardening or swimming, building and maintaining adequate shoulder strength is an absolute must.
Weak shoulders are especially prone to injury. In fact, a lot of shoulder injuries occur during everyday activities like leisure sports, work-related tasks and projects around the home. Including the shoulder press in your workouts is a good line of defense against such problems. Whether you use free weights, tubing or a machine just get those presses in.
Adding to the list of easy exercises we should all be doing is the infamous lunge. This is really the only exercise that functionally mimics walking and running, which are two of the most common forms of physical activity. While lunges are like squats in that they work the buttocks and quadriceps, they also target the hamstrings.
This is especially beneficial, as low levels of muscular strength and endurance in these areas are silent culprits in the onset of running and other exercise-related injuries.
As with squats, performing lunges doesn’t require any equipment, but you can greatly maximize your results by using resistance. Lunges can be performed either one leg at a time or in an alternating sequence. Walking lunges are also highly effective and can be performed overground or even on a treadmill.
7. Triceps Dips
Among the most convenient, versatile and effective bodyweight exercises you can perform, triceps dips (or simply “dips”) are a must-add to any upper-body workout. As implied by the name, triceps dips work the “triceps” muscle. This three-headed muscle is all too often neglected during workouts.
Though exercises like push-ups and the shoulder press put the triceps to good use, inadequate triceps strength can really hinder your ability to effectively perform these exercises – and practically any other activities that require forceful pushing motions. I’m sure at some time or another you’ve experienced arm weakness when performing push-ups or even pushing furniture. This happens when your triceps are weak.
As you start doing dips, over time, you’ll notice improvements in your ability to perform pushing motions with less effort. Other than a workout bench or a sturdy chair, absolutely no equipment is needed so it’s a win-win!
8. Back Rows
As the chest is comprised of multiple muscles, so is the back. These muscles work in direct opposition to support proper standing posture. A lot of people only work a small fraction of their back muscles, if even at all. This is why the back row (or simply the “row”) makes the list of easy exercises everyone should be doing. The row itself strengthens the back as the push-up strengthens the chest. It’s literally the reverse action.
If your shoulders are rounded, you’ll surely benefit from doing rows, as rounded shoulders are a classic sign of weak back muscles. This weakness eventually manifests in the forms of postural imbalances, chronic pain and hip instability. By including rows in your routine, you’ll notice almost immediate improvements in your posture. This exercise is also effective for strengthening core muscles as well as the biceps muscles on the fronts of your arms.
Rows can be performed in a variety of ways with various types of equipment ranging from free-weights to cables to tubing. Performing them one arm at a time is great for improving balance, coordination and muscle definition so be sure to mix it up.
9. Biceps Curls
When compared to “compound” movements that work a lot of muscles at the same time (squats and push-ups), biceps curls aren’t generally considered essential. But everyone should be doing them, mainly to build strength in the two-headed biceps muscle. Bicep strength is critical for stabilizing the elbow and shoulder joints during virtually any type of lift. It’s also needed to effectively perform activities that involve forceful pulling motions.
Biceps curls are easy and incredibly versatile, as they can be done in conjunction with other exercises in a way that enhances your body’s fat-burning potential. For instance, you can combine dumbbell curls with leg exercises like squats and lunges for a highly effective full-body workout. You can also spice up cardio exercises like walking and stationary cycling by incorporating curls.
As with other resistance exercises, you can perform biceps curls with free-weights, tubing or cables. You can even use a machine. Whatever works best for you!
These days, ab exercises are an obsession. Many people devote their entire workout time to performing crunches, leg lifts and other ‘ab-centric’ exercises for the sole purpose of achieving a defined, flat stomach. When it comes to abdominal muscle development, there’s arguably no exercise that’s more effective and efficient than planks.
Planks are also one of the most powerful exercises for developing core strength, which aids in the maintenance of good posture, balance and spinal stability. We all should be doing them! There are dozens of plank variations you can play around with. Regardless of where you are on your health and fitness journey, there’s a plank for that.
So, there you have it – 10 easy exercises everyone should be doing! Whether you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle or improve your overall fitness, including these exercises in your workout routine will surely help you perform better, function better and look your very best.