At Share It Fitness, we’re all about pushing the envelope and getting you out of your comfort zone. We live in a world where diets are telling us we can lose 10 pounds in 5 days simply by avoiding sugar, or fitness magazines tell us we’ll lose our stomach fat in 4 weeks by doing their 4 exercise crunch workout. Sadly, people buy into this and when things don’t work, they end up disappointed at best; burnt out and turned off to fitness at worst.
I say it all the time, fitness is simple. It truly is. Unlocking the “key” is simply a matter of knowing what to do, how often to do it, and understanding what works/doesn’t work for your body type. When you’ve mastered these three points, the weight will seem to start dropping effortlessly, you’ll begin to notice muscle in places you never thought possible, and you’ll have a whole new inspired outlook on fitness, and your body.
My goal is to move you away from being the person who relies on regurgitated fitness magazine articles or celebrity trainer advice, and on to the guy or girl who goes into the gym, looking as great as they feel, full of confidence, because they know exactly what they are doing is helping them meet their goals. With that in mind, it’s time to kick the nonsense advice to the side and focus on actual exercises that have been proven to burn the most calories, activate the most muscle fibers, and provide the greatest total body workout.
One quick caveat…these eight “best” exercises may not be the best for everyone. Surely body builders and the such may not consider these the “best”. When I say best, I have your standard exerciser in mind; someone who wants to lose a few pounds of body fat, build muscle and tighten up, or a combination of both. When combined, these exercises provide a healthy balance of muscle-building movements along with explosive, calorie blasting, compound cardio movements.
- Smith Machine Squats – Really, these can be done without the Smith Machine, but if you’re more of a beginner I definitely recommend the stabilization a Smith Machine provides. A squat is one of the most effective exercises out there, in that it hits tons of muscle fibers, across multiple muscle groups in your body. Make this a staple in any weight training program.
- Hang Snatches – These advanced movements incorporate tons of muscle groups when performed correctly. Explode through this lift and hold at the top for a full second. With this exercise you’ll be building muscles in your thighs, shoulders, traps, and even tightening your abdominals. Limit rest between sets of hang snatches to realize the cardiovascular benefits of this total body killer.
- Barbell Squat Jumps – Plyomeric movements are awesome. Weighted plyometric movements are even more awesome. This move will increase your fat burning potential, have you burning loads of calories, and tax the muscle fibers in your butt, hamstrings, and glutes like few other exercises can. Slowly try to up your pace (without losing form!) to increase the cardio benefits of this exercise.
- Push Up/Dip Swings – Quick..name an exercise that hits the muscles in the shoulders, chest, triceps, and core, while providing a serious heart-pounding caloric burn? Push Up/Dip Swings, of course! This exercise does something few others can. Using your own body weight, you are able to build four major muscle groups in your upper body WHILE getting your cardio on. Using this exercise on a regular basis is what has got many “fit” people that tight and toned body. Don’t neglect this powerful exercise any longer!
- BOSU Trifecta’s – If the word burpee brings on a sudden, heart-pounding panic attack…you may want to stop reading right here. BOSU Trifecta’s are essentially a burpee, but with a BOSU between your hands. This increased weight adds another element to one of the best total body cardio moves out there. Using this will help increase muscle mass while whittling away stubborn body fat when used regularly.
- Bench Press – One of the most standard exercises out there, and for good reason. The bench press is a great way to hit your chest muscles, triceps, and anterior shoulder muscles. What this means is, a toned and lean upper body. Don’t worry about packing on too much muscle if you’re a lady. The bench press is going to give you an athletic and lean physique, provided you aren’t eating like the bulky body builders you’re afraid of looking like.
- (Plated) Box Jumps – Of all the exercises I see most commonly performed by the most fit and athletic looking people, box jumps has to be it. These can be performed by themselves or with a plate when you are ready to really amp the intensity. Box jumps recruit tons of muscle fibers in your legs and boost your heart, so you’re burning loads of calories at the same time.
- Clean and Press – The clean and press is a compound power exercise designed to add lean muscles mass to your physique. When combined with the similar, hanging snatches, you’ll be sure to effectively fatigue the major muscles in your upper body to the point required for growth. Forget the iso exercises, and go for compound power lifts when you want to really make a difference.
Now that you know the 8 best total body exercises, you may be wondering how to work them in to a routine. Already a step ahead, I’ve put together a routine based on these exercises alone. Depending on your personal goals, this type of workout could be completed up to three times a week. You may want to include additional cardio and abdominal work as well on off days.
Since our goal is to build muscle AND maximize our caloric burn in the process, we’re going to fashion this workout circuit style, with little rest between. A couple of bouts of HIIT mixed in will do wonders for your EPOC (this is what boosts metabolism and gives you an elevated caloric burn AFTER your workout has ended) as well. This no-nonsense routine can be completely finished in 45 minutes or less, making it perfect for anyone on a time crunch.
*To make sure you’re pushing yourself hard enough, you should be using heavy enough weights that make completing the last rep or two nearly impossible without losing your form.
- Smith Machine Squats 10
- Hang Snatches 10
- Barbell Squat Jumps 20
- Push Up/Dip Swings 20
— 90 second rest —
- BOSU Trifecta’s HIIT format (30 seconds on, 15 seconds off, repeat for 10 times total)
- Bench Press 10
- Plated Box Jumps HIIT format (30 seconds on, 15 seconds off, repeat for 10 times total)
- Clean and Press 10
— 90 second rest —
Repeat this circuit at least two times total, but with a goal of stepping it up to three or even four times total.
Incorporating exercises like this is going to be so much more beneficial than doing bicep curls and other isolated exercises, with long rest periods in between. You aren’t going for size (most likely) you don’t need tons of rest between sets. Go for short, intense bursts, and then change to a different exercise quick, like this circuit workout has you doing. Continue doing a serious workout like this one and you’ll be looking, feeling, and acting like a lean, mean, ripped machine in no time.
If you enjoy this workout, head over to our newly launched, ShareItFitness.com. Create a free membership and get access to all of our workout plans like this one, along with our OnDemand library of group fitness classes and DVD-style workouts on video!