It’s easy to say, “I need to go workout,” but if you’re not sure what to do it can be a pretty daunting task. That’s why you need a plan to keep you motivated for your workout days. A great workout plan can take some time to develop, but there are basic exercises that provide a solid foundation to strengthen your major muscle groups, develop complex movement patterns, and improve balance and coordination. By consistently keeping these base exercises in your plan, you will have the means to measure your progress and results. Variations of these exercises can help you shake up your routine, continue to see results, and avoid hitting plateaus so you’re always challenging yourself. Base exercises should mimic and strengthen the human body’s three basic movement patterns: squatting, pressing, and pulling.
- Squats help strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes and core. Here are some basic exercises to strengthen your squat: body weight squats, Split Squats, TRX Squats, dumbbell squats, and leg press. Squats can be modified in many ways. Body weight and TRX squats are a great way to develop proper form and strengthen your legs. Split squats are good for strengthening the knees and taking pressure off of your lower back. Dumbbell squats and leg presses are advanced modifications that that you can add to your workout plan as you feel comfortable.
- Pressing strengthens the shoulders, chest, and triceps. Base exercises to strengthen your pressing ability are: push-ups, chest presses, and shoulder presses. Push-ups are easy to add to your routine because you can do them anywhere. Chest presses and shoulder presses can be done with free weights or with a variety of machines. Also, using dumbbells helps to safely build strength and shoulder stability.
- Pulling exercises are key for strengthening the back, biceps and shoulders. Base exercises to strengthen your pulling ability are: lateral pulldowns and rows. The back muscles are primarily responsible for pulling and they are the second largest group of muscles in your body. Your back muscles are responsible for stabilizing your spine and maintaining good posture. The additional benefits of doing pulling exercises are: fully engaging all of the muscles while correcting and preventing imbalances in your spine. Some of these exercises include: seated row, cable rows, dumbbell rows for your mid-back, and wide-grip or close-grip lateral pull-downs on a machine. Some exercises to strengthen the biceps and shoulders would be assisted pull-ups,underhand grip lateral pull-downs, and overhead shoulder press.
As you incorporate these base exercises into your workout, don’t forget about your core! This is an important muscle to focus on while working on squatting, pressing, and pulling. Core exercises help to stabilize your spine, strengthen your abdominals, and support your back. Adding 10 minutes of core work at the end of your workout three times a week is a good start to strengthening and maintaining a healthy spine. Some common core exercises to strengthen your abdominals, obliques, and lower back are: planks, bridges, and rotation crunches. To target your obliques and abdominals, try some crunches or using a crunch machine.
This may be a lot of information to take in, but like we said: a good workout plan develops over time. As Vince Lombardi once said, “plan your work and work your plan”. Using the base exercises listed above will definitely help you reach your fitness goals.