Five Exercises for a Stronger Body

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There may be a plethora of different workouts on the internet all promising various things such as weight loss, six packs and who knows what else. However, it’s hard to know what’s a fad and what could actually make a difference. We asked one of our colleagues, who is a qualified Personal Trainer, for a simple workout that can help keep us strong. Here is the workout:

The following 5 move workout covers a range of movements such as hinging, squatting, pulling and pushing and is a total body workout. To build a foundation level of strength and fitness do this workout 3 times a week and perform 12-15 reps. Start with a light weight or your bodyweight and then up the weight when you are confident about performing the exercise properly. If you are ever unsure how to properly perform an exercise you should seek help from a qualified professional.

Deadlift

This is the king of exercises. It works approximately 90 percent of the muscles in your body and has a large emphasis on the posterior chain (the back of your body) which can often be overlooked or weak. The exercise is also a great way to burn calories. The deadlift can be performed with a barbell, dumbbells or kettlebells.

Method:

  1. Stand with your feet roughly hip-width apart with the barbell (or dumbells etc.) in front of you on the floor. Think about pushing your hips back and sliding your hands down your thighs. Your legs should bend automatically as you move down.
  2. Grab the bar with an overhand grip. Tense your abs. Keep your head up in a neutral position and looking about six feet in front of you. Ensure your back is straight and your shoulders are down and back.
  3. Now push through your feet and bring your hips through so your stood tall. Ensure you engage your glutes. Think of the movement as a hinge at the hips, you don’t want to squat the weight up. Make sure you don’t push through too far at the top and overextend your back.
  4. Slowly lower the weight back down, pushing your hips back and keeping the bar close to the legs.

Squat

While the deadlift is the king of exercises, the squat would be a very close contender. The squat is a great lower body workout and works your thighs, glutes, calves and abs.

  1. Have you feet roughly hip width apart (this is a rough guide, find what is comfortable for you), point you toes outward slightly and tense your abs.
  2. Push your hips back and then bend your knees pushing them slightly outwards. Keep your spine in a neutral position. The best way to do this is thinking of sitting down onto a chair. A good starting point is to squat down onto a weight bench or box.
  3. Ideally you want to squat down until your thighs and knees are parallel, however some people may not have the mobility to do this.
  4. To stand back up press through your feet (mainly your heels) look straight ahead and stand up tall.

Pull-up

A great bodyweight exercise to build back and arm muscles. Performing a pull-up may seem a daunting idea, but it’s possible if you work at it. If you can’t perform a pull-up, the best thing to do is invest in resistance bands which you can tie onto the bar and then place a foot in to take some of your weight and make the exercise easier. Another option worth trying is jumping up to the bar holding the top of a pull-up position for a couple of seconds and then slowly lowering yourself back down. You may be surprised how quickly you’ll be able to perform a proper pull up with just a bit of persistence.

  1. Stand under a pull-up bar and place your hands on the bar in an overhand grip (palms facing away from you) shoulder width grip. If possible, you could place your hands in a neutral grip (palms facing towards each other). You can use a box or bench to stand on and reach the bar if needed.
  2. Lift your feet off the floor, so you are hanging from the bar. Tense your core and pull your shoulders down and back.
  3. Engaging your lats, pull yourself up to the bar until you chin is over the top. Think about pulling your elbows to your hips and try to avoid pulling from your hands, most people find this helps engage the lats more and make the movement easier.
  4. Lower yourself back down to the starting position slowly and then repeat the process.

Press-up

Another bodyweight exercise for your upper body, the press-up works the chest, shoulders and triceps. Be sure to keep your shoulders down and back and fixed in this position. Rounding the shoulders forward can cause problems. If you can’t do a press-up, you can perform them on your knees or with your hands up on a chair to make the exercise easier and progress from there.

  1. Start in a standard press-up position with your hips up, back straight and your core braced. Have your hands shoulder width apart with them twisted about 5 degrees away from you (this can take some of the pressure of your shoulders).
  2. Ensure your shoulders are down and back. Lower your chest towards the floor maintaining a neutral spine position. As you lower down your elbows should be at about 45 degrees from your body.
  3. When your chest is just off the floor push into the floor, like you are trying to push it away from you and bring yourself up to the start position. Pay special attention to engaging your chest muscles and keeping your shoulders back and down as you push up.

Dead Bug

A funny name as you slightly resemble a beetle trying to right itself from being on it’s back, the dead bug is a great core exercise. Not only does it work your abs, it reduces the strain on your lower back which can be an issue with some ab exercises like sit ups.

  1. Lie flat on your back. Lift your legs and bend your knees to 90 degrees so your lower legs are parallel to the floor. Extend your arms upwards towards the ceiling.
  2. Engage your core and keep your lower back flat to the floor, you’ll maintain this position throughout the move. Inhale.
  3. Exhale, slowly lowering your left arm behind your head and at the same time extending you right leg forward. You want your arm and leg to be just above the floor. Slowly return back to the original position as you inhale.
  4. Repeat the same movement with the opposite limbs. The key is to keep your back flat and your core engaged. It may seem easy at first but it should become difficult as you progress.

For all the exercise, if you are unsure how to perform them correctly you should find a personal trainer to demonstrate and explain to you how to perform them properly. Remember to start light and work your way up, less weight and proper form is a lot better than more weight and poor form.