Workouts that Work: 5 Must Do Moves

Workouts that Work: 5 Must Do Moves

May 11

What: The 5 most effective gym exercises for achieving definition and strength.

Why: There are a lot of ideas floating around on how to get tight and toned.  When you train, you must concentrate on these movements or variations there of.

Notice there is no mention here of cardiovascular activity.  Train your body to effectively do these movements in order to work efficiently and gain strength.  Beyond that, you can use cardiovascular activities and nutrition to manipulate your weight.

To gain strength, tone, and sexy muscles, focus on these moves:

1. Pushing

Unless you can move your own body weight around in free space, you’ll be hard pressed to find much benefit from weights, machines, resistance bands, and the like.

A legitimate fitness program should incorporate some form of pushing movement, ideally the push up.  If you have yet to work up to the quintessential military or “boy” push up, modified or “girl” push ups are a great place to start.

If you’re still not quite there, or working through an injury, try wall push ups:

Once you’ve graduated past the standard military push up, try pushing your limits with moves like a  one legged push up or spider push ups, pictured below:

2. Pull Ups

The minute I mention pull ups to a client, I’m usually greeted with a panicked look and myriad of reasons why they are infinitely impossible to perform.

Start with inverted rows in Smith machine or Squat rack to recruit the back and arm muscles necessary for a legitimate pull up:

Once you’ve built up strength on the inverted row, buy a set of bands and take them to the gym with you to work on assisted pull ups.  You’ll be doing the real deal in no time.

3. Squats

One of the biggest issues I see with training programs, especially those designed for women, is a disproportionate focus on machines.  Single leg machine movements, like leg curls and extensions, can emphasize muscle imbalances and are highly ineffective when not combined with triple extension and compound movements.

To train quads, hamstrings, glutes, inner, and outer thighs, squats or squat variations must be present in your training program.  Some of my favorite squat deviations include the single leg squat and lunge variances.

Single Leg


4. Deadlifts

The deadlift is just as important to lower body training as the squat.  A true deadlift involves moving weight from a stabilized state, thus focusing mainly on concentric motion.  This movement is canonical in the development of lower body muscularity and strength.  It’s variations are equally as effective.

Here are a few you might see in a sound training program:

Hip Hinges

Single Leg Deadlift

5. Planks

I see a lot of misleading information concerning the elusory 6 pack.  Flat abs are the consummation of genetic predisposition or lifestyle conducive to low body fat.  No amount of crunches, sit ups, leg raises, or the like will exclusively get you there.

Put your focus, instead, on core strength and stability.  Planks and other prone position exercises will gain you the base strength to improve on the effectiveness and efficiency of all other exercises.

Side Plank


All images courtesy of Google images.