Go to a health club and what do you see? Machines. Machines, everywhere machines. Every muscle in your body can be isolated from every direction with a different machine. Many fitness centers cram so many machines into their facilities that it is hard to move around; never mind get in a good work out. In my opinion many of these machines are over-used and not very beneficial. There are, however, many moves that you can do in a gym that provide huge benefits no matter who you are and what your fitness level is. This article is going to feature my three favorites.
My three favorite gym exercises are: the Squat, the Pushup, and the Pull-Up. All three exercises spike your heart rate, require and develop phenomenal core strength, are extremely functional and can be both extremely challenging and easy. Don't have a lot of time at the gym? Do 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15. Try three sets and you'll be amazed the workout you can have in five minutes. No do 20 sets in 20 minutes. Now you’re fit! Let's look at each exercise individually.
The squat is a fundamental motion. How many times a day do you pick something up off the ground or just plain sit down and stand up? Running, walking and cycling are basically one legged squats. Think about it. One aspect of squats that I believe is key is the amount of weight that you add. I say none. Zip. Notta. Why? Think about how many times per day you run around with weight on your back. How about lots of weight across your shoulders or in your hands? Never. I believe body weight squats are amazingly beneficial. Not hard enough? Try doing 100 really fast. Next time you’re doing a weight workout try doing 60 squats in one minute. Rest 30 seconds and do it again. Can you do 300 body weight squats in five minutes? If you can do that then squat with the bar. If not, then keep trying. The progression for a squat is this: slow and steady, more reps, more speed, more reps and more speed and lastly add weight. Don't skip steps!
A push-up may seem old fashioned or Rocky-ish but who cares. Did you see what Rocky looked like doing all those push-ups? Check out the abs. The push-up is, first and foremost, a core strength exercise. Before doing a set of push-ups try holding the "up" position for a minute then cranking them out. Try lifting one foot off the ground then pushing up. There are endless varieties of push-ups. You can also put your feet up on a bench or a ball to do a decline push-up or put your hands on a bench to do an incline. Want to go right up the progression ladder? Try putting your feet up on a bench and your hands on a stability ball. Feel the burn and like it. Check your heart rate. For the people that aren’t as fit yet they can do push-ups on their knees or with their hands on a bench or the wall. Push-ups are for everybody.
Pull-ups, on the other hand, are not traditionally for everybody. If you can pull your body up over a bar then do it! It is the best exercise you can do for your fitness level. If you are like most people then you cannot pull your body over the bar. What now? Two choices: get help or do a "recline pull-up." A reline pull-up is like a reverse push-up. Find a bar that is 3-5 feet off the ground. A "Smith Machine" or a squat rack tend to work well. Straighten out your body so your heals are on the ground and pull your chest to the bar. Simple but effective. Doing an assisted pull-up is a little harder but just as effective. A partner is very helpful. You could also use a big ol' rubber band to pull yourself over the bar (Specially fitness websites like Performbetter.com or powersysyems.com sell these.). Whatever the method of assistance the goal is to be able to execute pull-ups all by yourself.
Simple is always better. Why eat processed food when you can eat raw fruits and vegetables? Why drive when you can walk? Why use exercise machines when you can just use your body weight? Too simple? No way. Your fitness level is all about your decisions and your body. Ever heard the expression "Use it or lose it"? Well, use it or lose it.