10 Effective Exercises for a Total-Body Fitness Routine

by Nicole Abigail

Having an effective, total-body fitness routine is essential to achieve long-lasting health, wellness and vitality. To maximize your workout, here are 10 exercises that target every major muscle group:

1. Squats

Squats not only target your lower body but also involve core and upper body muscles, which is why they thumping the list. To do a traditional squat, stand with feet hip-width apart, chest high and core engaged. Slowly bend at the knees, sending your hips back and down, then press through your heels to rise back up. Aim for three sets of 10 to 20 repetitions.

2. Lunges

Lunges work many of the same muscle groups as squats, plus they add an extra challenge to the core. To do a traditional lunge, take a large step forward and slowly lower your body until both legs form 90-degree angles. Push through your front heel and come back to standing, then switch sides and repeat. Aim for three sets of 10 to 20 repetitions per side.

3. Push-Ups

Push-ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises for toning your chest, shoulders and arms. To ensure proper form, start in a high plank position with your wrists directly underneath the shoulders. Slowly lower down, keeping your abs engaged, the entire time. Aim for three sets of 10 repetitions.

4. Glute Bridges

Glute bridges target the glutes, hamstrings, and abdominals as you hold your body steady. Begin by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tighten your glutes and press your hips toward the sky until they are inline with the rest of your body. Aim for three sets of 10 repetitions.

5. Tricep Dips

Tricep dips are a great body-weight exercise to target the triceps – the back of the arms. To do a tricep dip, place both hands on a secured surface, such as a chair or box, slightly higher than your hip level. Keeping your abs engaged and spine neutral, slowly lower yourself down until your arms create a 90-degree angle. Push back up and repeat. Aim for three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

6. Plank

The plank exercise is one of the best core exercises you can do to strengthen your midsection. Begin by lying face-down on the floor and prop yourself up with your forearms and toes, making sure to keep your body straight from head to toe. Hold the position for 30 seconds, rest and repeat.

7. Bird Dog

The bird dog is a full-body exercise that emphasizes core stability, plus it helps to target your back, glutes, and legs. To do the bird dog, start on hands and knees. Lift one arm and the opposite leg, maintaining a straight line from head to toe. Focus on keeping a strong core and hold for five seconds before switching sides. Aim for three sets of 10 repetitions per side.

8. Incline Push-Ups

Similar to the traditional push-up, the incline variation emphasizes the chest, shoulders and arms. To do an incline push-up, set up with your hands on an elevated surface and your feet on the ground. Make sure to keep your body in a straight line from head to toe as you lower your body down. Aim for three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.

9. Side Plank

The side plank is a great ab exercise that targets the obliques. To do a side plank, start by lying on the side of your body and prop yourself up with your elbow directly underneath your shoulder. Make sure to keep your core and glutes tight as you lift your hips off the floor. Hold the position for 30 seconds, rest and repeat.

10. Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks are a great full-body calorie-burning exercise. To do a jumping jack, start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Jump and spread your legs out wide while raising both arms above your head. Jump and return to the starting position. Aim for 3 sets of 30 to 50 repetitions.

Following these exercises will help you develop an effective, total-body routine that will keep you fit and healthy for years to come. Mix and match these exercises for a personalized routine that works for you and your goals.

What muscles do total body exercises work?

Total body exercises work all major muscle groups in the body including the quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, chest, glutes, back, shoulders, abdominals, and arms.

What are the benefits of total body exercises?

1. Improved Muscle Strength and Endurance: One of the most significant benefits of total body exercises is increased muscle strength and endurance. Total body exercises are designed to target all major muscle groups within a single exercise, thereby increasing the overall amount of type II muscle fibers recruited and trained. This can help improve overall strength and athletic performance.

2. Increased Metabolism: Performing total body exercises can also help to increase your metabolism by helping to build lean muscle tissue, which has a higher metabolic rate than fat. Additionally, total body exercises cause an increased caloric burn compared to traditional upper and lower body workouts.

3. Time Efficiency: Total body exercises are also time efficient. The same amount of work can be accomplished with fewer exercises as compared to a traditional split routine. This makes it ideal for busy individuals who may not have the time to perform multiple sets of different exercises.

4. Improved Posture: Total body exercises can also help to improve posture by targeting the major muscle groups that are necessary for proper posture and spine alignment. This can help alleviate chronic back and neck pain due to poor posture.

5. Variety: Performing total body exercises can also provide variety to an exercise program as each exercise can be modified to target different muscle groups and increase the difficulty level. This helps to reduce the chance of reaching a workout plateau and getting bored with an exercise routine.

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