Here are the three best exercises you should be doing in the gym. Whether you're looking to build strength, muscle, or overall fitness, these moves will help you get there.
There are hundreds of exercises you can be doing when you go to the gym. But what is going to give you the biggest bang for your buck? The main rule is to focus on compound lifts and add accessory movements at the end of your workout. A compound exercise is a movement that works multiple muscles at the same time. For example, a lunge works the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, and gastrocnemius/soleus (calves), whereas a bicep curl only works your biceps.
Developing squat strength is essential to leg development, and can even assist you in other lifts. Squats help build your legs, hips, and core. This exercise is a great foundational movement and is vital for a strong physique and top performance in athletics.
Squats are also a functional movement. Not only do they help develop your legs and core, but they also help with stabilization and balance. Strengthening your squat can help improve communication between your brain and muscle groups, which can help prevent falls.
Deadlifts are the ultimate strength-building exercise. This whole body exercise primarily works the glutes, hamstrings, latissimus dorsi, deltoids, and core. Not only does it use your entire posterior chain, but it also helps improve grip strength. Another huge benefit of deadlifting is strengthening your lower back. As people age, daily life and long-term poor postural habits cause back pain. Deadlifts can help reverse back pain and fix posture by strengthening the muscles of your back and hips. If you experience back pain but have never had an injury, your muscles are underdeveloped and strength training can help you live a pain-free life.
Last but not least is the bench press. This exercise can be done with a barbell or dumbbell and has different variations depending on which muscles you'd like to target. Dumbell bench press allows for more range of motion and requires more stabilization. Using dumbbells also helps with muscle imbalances since your dominant side cannot compensate for the weaker side.
No matter which option you choose, bench press works your pectoralis muscles, triceps, biceps, and shoulder joints. If you're short on time, this is a great option for upper body day to hit everything at once. Other benefits include improved strength, better endurance, and a stronger upper body.
Strength training is one of the most important aspects of living a healthy life, and maintaining your ability to move as you age. Going to the gym is so much more than losing weight. Strength training can help improve bone density, improves heart health, lowers your risk of injury, improves brain health, and promotes a better quality of life.
As a beginner, it can be hard to know where to start. The three movements listed above are a great starting place and should be the foundation of your strength training routine.
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