What are the 6 best exercises everyone can do?
I was asked this question by a patient recently and before I could give an adequate answer, I had to give it some deep thought.
Initially, my mind was filled will all of the challenging lifts and movements that could be done in a well outfitted training facility but unless “everyone” had access to such a place or access to the required equipment, some of those movements wouldn’t fit the bill.
The other MAJOR criteria that needed to be accounted for is scalability, meaning each of these exercises have a range of modifications.
Could the lifts and movements be paired down for those with minimal fitness experience or simply poor health?
If you haven’t done any of these exercises before or are not experienced with lifting, we encourage you to get help from a trainer at your gym, or consult another exercise professional.
For Crossfit training and awesome coaching, check out our friends at Raincity Athletics.
If you are rehabbing an injury, or just need more personalized 1-on-1 work, check out the kinesiology services at Focus Physio.
With that said, here are the 6 best exercises everyone can (and should) do…
1. The Squat
The squat is a full body, compound movement that trains thighs, hamstrings, hips and glutes. It is one of the most basic human movements.
Due to the weight-bearing nature of squatting, this movement also strengthens bones, ligaments and tendons.
Training the squat will improve your lower body and core strength creating more balance, stability and overall awesomeness.
Modification: Air Squat/Chair Squat
A squat can range from a full squat while holding a barbell with extra resistance across your back to a very scaled partial squatting movement while holding onto something for extra stability.
Perform the air squat with a chair or bench behind you if you don’t feel comfortable getting into the full air squat position.
2. The Deadlift
The deadlift is straightforward… bend down and pick something up.
It’s a movement most people perform daily.
Once again, it could range from picking up an extremely heavy barbell from the floor to just bending over slightly and standing back up.
In addition to it’s simplicity, the deadlift requires minimal equipment, strengthens the midline, trains more muscles simultaneously than another other lift.
When done properly, the deadlift is safe, develops grip strength and has real world applications.
Modification: Dumbbell Pick-Up
In the video, they demonstrate using a barbell, but you can instead use two dumbbells, kettle bells, a medicine ball, a cat or any other “relatively heavy” object.
Remember, with all these movements, strength is relative. If 4-lb is heavy to you… then great! Pick up 4-lb today and move up as you progress and get stronger. The point is to start doing something.
3. Walking Lunge
Lunging is different than a squat and just as important.
This movement can be performed as showed or made harder by carrying something at your sides, over your head, or in one hand only.
The benefits of this movement include coordination, balance, agility and strength… with all of these movements, as you build muscle, you will also burn fat.
Trust me… this may sound easy but 100 feet later you’ll breathing as if you just ran a marathon.
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4. The Burpee
Speaking of gasping for air… burpees are next on our list.
Burpees are a great full body movement. Get on the ground and then get back up.
Do them fast, do them slow…
Whatever your pace is, you will be working hard and burning fat. The most important thing is just to keep moving.
Once you get stronger, they will be just as hard…
You will just be doing them faster and more efficiently… they will always be challenging and effective.
5. The Push-up
The push—up is a full body, highly functional movement that involves midline stability, upper body strength development, and best of all, requires nothing other than your hands and something to push against.
The ideal version of a push-up includes maintaining a plank-like torso and pushing your body off the floor.
If this is too difficult, even pushing yourself away from the wall will do the trick.
6. The Pull-up
The last choice was a difficult one but I settled on the pull-up for a few reasons.
As with previous exercises on our “everyone can do” list, the pull-up and it’s variations needed very little equipment.
It’s true, a full pull-up is a very difficult movement and a tremendous test of true strength… however, the ability to modify the pull-up into something much easier made this an appealing choice to cap our list.
Now… you could make the case some of these movements may be borderline “too difficult” but their upside was just too high to leave them out.
Modification: Ring Row
The ring row is more easily modifiable by changing your foot position.
This will help train your upper body and back for the pull-up.
You can also modify the pull-up by doing negatives or by using a band.
Modify any of these movements where required, but honestly, no more excuses… it’s time to get moving and start living the life you want instead of the one you’re still complaining about.
What’s the biggest challenge keeping you from exercising?
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