The most common question I'm asked as a health and fitness professional is “What are the most effective moves in the gym to build muscle/burn fat etc?”
This is a question with MANY different answers as many factors are involved with this question. However today I have come up with a list of FIVE “cornerstone” exercises that when tailored to your goals, will provide you with the results you’re looking for!
So here it goes...
Let me start with one of the best weightlifting, and functional exercises you can do! The deadlift works through the whole posterior chain (from your calves all the way up the tops of your shoulders). As such, this move always features in many of my workouts and builds great strength through your legs and back, not forgetting that your core has to work over-time in order to maintain perfect technique throughout! Additionally, it is one of the few moves you can lift more than your own bodyweight with, and not have to worry about whether you are going to be crushed by the barbell!
All in all, if the deadlift isn’t in your weightlifting programme then it should be! A full body move that can be adjusted to give you huge benefits no matter what your goal may be.
“What?! No bench press?” I hear you cry. As much as the bench press may be popular, and a great exercise for strength it is interesting to know that when doing full press ups you are lifting approximately 70% of your own bodyweight, yet you still see the average gym goer lifting less than this amount on the bench press in the gym! As such, being able to shift your own bodyweight multiple times should be a bigger boost to the ego as well as your upper body!
This fantastic core exercise and/or any of its derivatives should be a cornerstone of your workout. The variations of leg lifts, opposite arm/leg holds, Swiss balls, medicine balls, side planks, walking planks will always provide any regular gym goer with that new stimulus to carve a rock solid core. Then this can be standardised by holding a static plank for as long as possible and comparing your results every few weeks. Overall, the vast number of progressions to this basic gym move to give you that extra “burn” means that you can constantly prevent boredom... key to keeping you getting into the gym!
The inverted row is the bodyweight equivalent of a press up... but for your back! In my opinion I think the inverted row is much easier to perform with good technique unlike a bent over row, which in turn becomes very “back friendly” by having to support yourself in a solid line from head to toes whilst still being able to build good strength through your back and arms. Additionally, the inverted row can quickly be adapted to make the exercise both easier and harder depending on your ability. Definitely worthy of making the top five!
I couldn’t finish off my top 5 without having squats in here. If you are looking for bigger/leaner/toned legs then squats NEED to be in your workout somewhere. Like the plank, there are many derivatives of this exercise which can certainly prevent the boredom of performing repeated back squats (or front squats depending on your preference!). Plus, adding some weight to your squats will certainly get your heart pumping and balance out the work done through the back on your deadlifts and rows!
You may have noticed that I haven’t included any exercises such as bicep curls or crunches in this post. It is my belief that if you want big fitness gains in the shortest time possible, performing big multi-joint moves is the way forward be it for getting more muscle mass, or for weight/fat loss. However, this isn’t to say that isolation moves are redundant in the gym…but they should be considered as “bolt ons” to your bigger moves.
Hopefully you have found this blog useful, and will help you think twice before starting your workouts with bicep curls and lateral raises!