The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) suggests that your exercise routine should include both aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening. This can be done by combining a few exercises that work several muscle groups to ensure that every part of the body is worked out.
While there are exercises that only work out specific muscle groups of the body, there are those that work most of your muscles at once. These exercises often work across the lower body, upper body, and core. Many muscle-strengthening exercises use reps or the total motion of an individual exercise, and sets, which refer to a certain number of reps. Here are six exercises you may include for your whole-body workout:
A pushup uses your own body weight as resistance. This works your upper body and core at the same time. It targets chest muscles, shoulders, triceps, abdominals, and serratus anterior or the wing muscles directly under your armpit.
To do pushups:
- Put your palms on the floor under the shoulders with your arms extended.
- Extend your legs back, resting on the balls of your feet. Make sure your body is a straight line.
- Bend your arms to lower your body with your chest or nose almost touching the floor.
- Push against the floor by extending your arms to raise yourself up.
Do this for 10 times or as many times as you can. Take rest intervals after every set you finish. If this is too hard for you, try resting on your knees instead of stretching your legs out.
The squat is a lower body exercise. It mainly targets the thighs and glutes.
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To do squats:
- Start from a standing position. Find a foot stance that feels best for you.
- Crouch down into a squatting position.
- Rise back up.
Repeat this as many times as you can and take a short break after every set you finish.
Burpees are one of the most effective and challenging exercises. This move virtually trains every muscle in your body, including your abs, butt, chest, inner thighs, shoulders, and chest. It combines the benefits of a pushup and a squat.
To do burpees:
- From a standing position, drop down into a squat.
- Move into a plank position, shifting your weight onto your hands.
- Do a pushup, then go back to a standing position.
You can make it more intense by jumping out of the squat into the standing position. If you want to make it easier, remove the pushup stage.
A lunge is a single-leg bodyweight exercise that trains your core, hamstrings, hips, glutes, quads, and muscles of the inner thigh. Doing lunges can help you develop your lower-body strength and endurance. They are also a great beginner move because they are similar to walking.
To do lunges:
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
- Take a big step with your leg at a right angle.
- Extend your other leg back. Your knee must be just above the floor and the ball of your foot is taking the weight.
- Move up and down, and switch feet.
5. Running and cycling
Running and cycling are great aerobic activities. These activities also contribute to building muscle strength, especially when interspersed with intervals of high-intensity anaerobic exercise. (Related: First Step to Get More Physically Active: Choosing The Right Running Shoe.)
6. Stair climbing
Something as simple as climbing the stairs can both strengthen your muscles and increase your heart rate. Climb to the top of a set of stairs, then go back down. Do this for one minute, or for as long as you can. Take a break, then repeat. To maximize the amount of energy you burn, climb stairs one step at a time. Climbing a one step at a time can burn more calories than climbing two steps, according to a study published in the journal PLoS One.
Do note that doing exercises for the first time will result in muscle ache. Therefore, rest for one day before exercising again to allow your muscles to recover. If you are exercising for the first time, start slowly then gradually increase the intensity to prevent injuries.