Wait! Don't just skim down to see which exercise I've labeled as the best, get the whole story...
I'm often approached and asked to pin down a single exercise as the one that will help lose the most fat and sculpt the quickest. That's not an easy question to answer.
You see, I'm very aware of the fact that though an exercise may be perfect for Client A, it may not be the best choice for Client B—hence my hesitation to label any exercise as the universal best.
That being said, some exercises are definitely better than others. And, yes, there are even a few that I would call the best.
What makes an exercise the best?
When you decide which exercises to include in your routine, it is important to consider the type of movement involved. The simpler the movement, the fewer calories you'll burn and the fewer muscles you will strengthen. On the other hand, the more complex the movement, the more calories you will burn and the more muscles you will strengthen.
To put it simply, exercises that use complex movements will deliver better results than exercises that use only simple movements. Complex movements recruit multiple muscles, some to stabilize and others to perform the movement. This process keeps your heart rate higher than a simple exercise would, giving you a more intense workout.
What is a complex movement?
A complex movement is a multi-joint movement that recruits large portions of the body to complete the exercise. Let's compare a simple movement leg exercise with a complex movement leg exercise:
The leg extension machine uses a simple, isolated movement to work the quadriceps. You're in a seated position moving only your knee joint. There isn't much involvement, if any, from other muscles and it doesn't burn very many calories.
Now let's look at a free weight walking lunge. You start by standing with your feet together and a dumbbell in each hand at your sides (or a barbell across your shoulders, or a medicine ball held at your chest, or even with no weight at all). You take a large step forward and lower your back knee, keeping your front knee at a 90 degree angle. Now you push off your front foot and pull your back leg forward, repeating the movement.
How many muscles did you utilize while performing the lunge? Probably too many to count.
You certainly worked your quadriceps, gluteus, hamstrings, calves, abdominals, supporting muscles in your shoulders, arms and back- just to name a few. You also raised your heart rate and really kicked your metabolism into high gear. That's what I call a great exercise.
Other ways to increase intensity
Using complex movements are just one of many ways to kick your workout intensity up a notch. Try incorporating a Super Set into your routine. To do so simply perform two or more exercises in a row and then take a short rest.
Or how about a Compound Set? Perform one exercise, rest, then perform an exercise with opposing body parts. To find exercises that compliment one another, choose ones that have similar but opposite motions such as a chest press and a row.
The key to finding the best exercise is to find the ones that bring your workout intensity to a whole new level.
I'd be shortchanging you if I named any exercise as the best. The fact of the matter is that it is a combination of changing your workouts up, using interval training, and even some good old cardio that will ultimately see you to your goal.
These methods will help you to burn more calories, increase your metabolic rate, and will stimulate the production of more fat burning and muscle toning hormones. Of course, there is more involved to achieving your fitness goals. You need to incorporate fat burning into your routine. You need to consistently challenge yourself during workouts. You need to take control of your eating habits and to get your diet dialed in.
Summer has arrived and along with it the dreaded bathing suit season.
Whether you can't wait to bare it all on the beach, or if you're still working toward a weight loss goal, exercise is the key to looking and feeling great in the upcoming summer months.
But why else should you exercise? Here are the top 7 reasons to exercise this summer:
Reason #1: To Melt Fat Away
The most coveted side effect of exercise is, of course, fat burn. The combination of a challenging exercise routine and a balanced meal plan is the best known way to lose fat. Here's what losing fat feels like:
- Your pants become loose
- People around you begin to say that you look great
- A glance at yourself in the mirror makes you smile
- Your energy levels soar
- You feel amazing
Reason #2: To Alleviate Pain
Regular exercise is a great way to alleviate chronic muscle and joint pain. Persistent back pain can be lessened by strengthening your core, and you’ll protect yourself against injury. It amazes people when the chronic pain that they’ve lived with for years begins to fade after starting a regular exercise program.
Reason #3: To Increase Lean Tissue
More muscle is good for many reasons. You see, muscle requires many more calories each day than fatty tissue. In fact, one pound of muscle burns 30-50 calories each day at rest - compared to a measly 9 calories per pound of fat.
When you exercise your body composition will change to contain more lean tissue, thus resulting in extra calories burned while you sleep. What could be better than that?
Reason #4: To Stay Young
Tim D. Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College in London, led a study on the effects of exercise on aging. The results were astounding. They found that exercise appears to slow the shriveling of the protective tips on bundles of genes inside cells (called telomeres), which means a slowing of the aging process.
"These data suggest that the act of exercising may actually protect the body against the aging process," said Spector.
Here's the study in a nutshell:
- Telomeres cap the ends of chromosomes and every time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter.
- Once a telomere gets too short, that cell can no longer divide.
- Aging occurs as more and more cells reach the end of their telomeres and die. This results in weakened muscles, skin wrinkles, loss of eyesight and hearing, organ failure and slowed metal functioning.
- The study analyzed the telomeres from the white bloods cells of twins over a 10-year period. Telomere length was used as a marker for the rate of biological aging.
- It was found that the length of telomeres was directly related to that twin's activity level. "There was a gradient," Spector said. "As the amount of exercise increased, the telomere length increased."
- People who did 100 minutes of weekly exercise had telomeres that looked like those from someone about 5-6 years younger than those who did 16 minutes of exercise each week.
- People who did 3 hours of vigorous exercise each week had telomeres that looked like those from someone about 9 years younger.
Reason #5: To Prevent or Control Type 2 Diabetes
Regular exercise helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. This is something that people with type 2 diabetes, or at risk for type 2 diabete, gain substantial benefits from.
Exercise improves the body's use of insulin, and the related weight loss improves insulin sensitivity. Of course patients with type 2 diabetes need to get guidelines from their doctor before starting an exercise program.
Reason #6: To Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels
Exercise has shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels for these two reasons:
- Weak Heart Muscles pump little blood with lots of effort. By exercising you strengthen your heart muscles and train them to pump more blood with less effort. The stronger your heart is the less pressure will be exerted on your arteries.
- Exercise Increases HDL levels in some people - this means a decrease in your risk for heart disease. Other heart disease risk factors such as weight, diabetes and high blood pressure all show improvement with regular exercise.
Reason #7: To Feel Great
The first thing that clients tell me after starting an exercise program is how much better they feel.
Most didn't even realize how bad they felt. It is easy to get used to feeling sluggish, achy and unmotivated.
Exercise boosts your energy levels and makes you feel amazing.
The quickest, easiest way to guarantee that you'll meet your fitness and weight loss goals is to work one-on-one with a qualified fitness professional. You'll be held accountable with your workouts and you'll be instructed properly and shown techniques and strategies that will expedite your results.
Call or email today to get started on a program that will take the guesswork out of fitness and to set your results on fire.
What are you waiting for? Lace up your shoes and get moving!