If you could only do six exercises that would get you as fit as people who spend hours a day in the gym, would you dedicate 30 minutes, three times a week to do it?
That’s a rhetorical question. Thankfully, six exercises is all you really need, according to David Sciacca, founder and instructor at live-virtual personal training platform LIFT Session.
“These six exercises are the most efficient and effective exercises,” says Sciacca. “And they can easily be performed from home.”
The exercises below are all functional movements (movements that individuals perform on a daily basis and involve natural human biomechanics), multi-joint/compound movements (exercises that engage two or more different joints to fully stimulate entire muscle groups) and scalable (exercises that can be modified and scaled to increase or decrease the difficulty level).
Get ready to get your ass kicked.
The squat is a functional, full body movement that helps build strength and muscular endurance while engaging the posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes) as well as the quads and the core. With proper form the abdominals, the lower back and upper back are engaged, as are the shoulders, making this one of the most full body exercises out there.
Less challenging: Squat to a seat (chair, bench, etc.) with proper form. Once this becomes too easy choose a lower seat.
More challenging: Overhead squats (arms overhead), weighted squats (with a dumbbell or kettlebell), pistol squats (single leg squats), etc.
This full body movement engages the hamstrings, qlutes, quads, core back and shoulders (if loaded). One of the absolute best exercises that can be performed for developing raw strength. To add a level of complexity this exercise can be performed with a heavier load or single leg deadlifts can be done.
Less challenging: Perform with bodyweight only.
More challenging: Perform with a heavier load or on single leg.
The Shoulder Press
This upper body exercise targeting the shoulders (deltoids), triceps and engaging the core for stabilisation is extremely taxing as you are squeezing the glutes and quads, engaging the core and pushing up aggressively without arching the lower back (lumbar spine). Given that the deltoids are a smaller muscle, not much weight is needed to provide the resistance necessary to make this exercise challenging.
Less challenging: Use a band instead of weights.
More challenging: If this becomes too easy, add weights, do Pike Pushups, One Leg Pike Pushups or even Handstand Pushups.
When performing a pushup with the proper technique, individuals engage the core tremendously and work the chest (pecks), shoulders and triceps. There are so many variations of this exercise that athletes can spice it up and never get bored of performing it.
Less challenging: The scaled version of the pushup should not be performed on the knees. When possible, perform the scaled pushup with hands on an elevated surface, keeping the core engaged and lowering the chest to the elevated surface then pushing back up.
More challenging: Diamond Pushups (shown above), Clap Pushups, Plank Pushups or Staggered Pushups.
The lunge is a functional exercise with tones of variations. Athletes can perform forward lunges (easier from a stability standpoint and uses more quads), reverse lunges, alternating jump lunges, etc. Also, lunges can be performed with hands over head, out to the side, in front of the body, and can even include weights. All formats engage the glutes, hamstrings and quads.
Less challenging: Perform forward lunges with bodyweight only.
More challenging: Alternating Jump Lunges, shown above, keeps your heart rate high while prolonging the time under tension (do these until failure and you’ll see what we mean).
Everybody’s most hated exercise is amazing at improving metabolic conditioning. This is a great exercise to get the heart rate elevated while engaging the hips, core and shoulders. It can be done explosively to add a level of challenge or slow and controlled to engage stabiliser muscles.
Less challenging: Perform the burpee to standing without added jumps (shown above).
More challenging: Perform the burpee to standing but add a jump at the top, or the Burpee with Pushup or Burpee with Plyo Push-Up.
Culled from Lift Sessions