Why: Squats work your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves all at once.
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes facing straight ahead or angled slightly outward. Slowly bend the knees and lower hips towards the floor, keeping your torso straight and abs pulled in tight. Keep your knees behind your toes; make sure everything is pointing in the same direction. Do not go lower than 90 degrees.
Why: Push ups, like squats, are compound movements using almost all the muscles of your body. You’ll work your chest, shoulders, triceps, back, and abs.
How to do it: Position yourself face down on the floor, balancing on your toes/knees and hands. Your hands should be wider than shoulder, body in a straight line from head to toe. Don’t sag in the middle and don’t stick your butt up in the air. Slowly bend your arms and lower your body to the floor, stopping when your elbows are at 90 degrees. Exhale and push back up.
Why: Lunges work most of the muscles in your legs including your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
How to do it: Stand in a split stance (one leg forward, one leg back). Bend knees and lower body into a lunge position, keeping the front knee and back knee at 90 degree angles. Keeping the weight in your heels, push back up (slowly!) to starting position. Never lock your knees at the top and don’t let your knee bend past your toes. Variations: front lunges, back lunges. Keep it under 16 reps.
How to Do it: Lie face down with elbows resting on the floor next to chest. Push your body off the floor in a push up position with body resting on elbows or hands. Contract the abs and keep the body in a straight line from head to toes. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat as many times as you can. For beginners, do this move on your knees and gradually work your way up to balancing on your toes.
Why: The pull-up works on the major muscles of your back and shoulders which helps you burn calories and of course, strengthens your back.
How to do it: Hold the bar with palms out and wider than shoulders. Pull your abs in bend your elbows and raise your body (and chin) towards the bar, contracting the outer muscles of your back. Do this exercise 2-3 times a week using enough weight to complete 12-16 repetitions. If you don’t have access to a gym, try a one-armed row. See how it’s done.