The weather is starting to heat up. It’s been a few long months stuck mostly inside, but now it’s time to start getting into shape for the summer.
While there are many different ways to work on your body, sticking to the fundamentals can help you achieve a strong and well-rounded physique. The good news is, you don’t need a lot of time or a lot of different exercises.
Here are five fundamentals to help you get started:
The Romanian Deadlift
The Romanian deadlift is an excellent exercise for developing your posterior chain muscles. These muscles include the glutes, hamstrings, and spinal erectors.
In addition, the use of a barbell also trains your core, upper back, forearms, and grip strength.
To do it:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the barbell with an overhand grip, just outside of your legs.
Bend at the hips by pushing your butt back while keeping your spine in a neutral alignment.
Maintain a slight bend at the knee and only go as low as you can maintain a flat back.
Reverse the movement by straightening your hips and knees to return to the starting position.
The Bench Press:
The bench press is a tried and true exercise that trains the anterior side of your torso, including the chest, shoulders, and triceps. The bench press is a popular exercise because it lets you lift a significant amount of weight with your upper body.
To do it:
Lie flat on your back on a bench with your feet flat on the floor.
Retract your shoulder blades and maintain this position throughout the entire movement.
Grab the barbell slightly wider than shoulder-width and bring it to a point just above your sternum.
Lower the bar by tucking your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your body until it makes contact with your lower chest.
Press the barbell back to the starting position by fully extending your elbows.
Squats are an excellent exercise for developing the anterior and inner leg muscles, including the quadriceps, adductors, and glutes.
The barbell will also train your core and spinal erectors.
To do it:
Unrack a barbell situated comfortably in your upper back above your shoulder blades.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed out slightly.
Squat down by simultaneously bending your hips and knees while keeping your spine in neutral alignment.
Make sure that you keep your spine in a neutral position and go as low as possible while maintaining good form.
Rise back to the starting position by extending your hips and knees.
The barbell row will develop your upper back muscles, including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and posterior deltoids.
This exercise is also great for training your biceps and forearm muscles.
To do it:
Grab a barbell in front of you with an overhand grip that is slightly wider than shoulder-width.
Bend your hips and knees and lower your torso until it is almost parallel to the floor.
Keep your back in a flat and neutral position.
Retract your shoulder blades and keep them pinched together throughout the entire movement.
Row the barbell towards your abdomen by driving your elbows towards the ceiling.
Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position.
The Overhead Press
The overhead press rounds out the remainder of the upper body by training the shoulders and the triceps from a different angle.
The overhead position also improves core strength and several other stabilizer muscles in the upper body.
To do it:
Position a barbell in front of your body on your anterior shoulders.
Grab the bar with an overhand grip just outside your shoulders.
Press the barbell overhead by extending your elbows until the bar is directly over your head.
Keep your core engaged to prevent your lower back from arching.
Lower the barbell back to the starting position.
Why These Exercises?
One thing these exercises have in common is they are all compound exercises – training multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Isolation exercises train just one muscle group at a time.
While you can build strength and muscle using both types of exercises, compound movements are more efficient. Instead of needing three exercises to train three different muscle groups, using compound exercises, you can train all the major muscle groups in your body with just a handful of exercises. To assist, here is a breakdown of over 40 different compound exercises broken down by movement category.
We’ve also got a list of over 60 different bodyweight exercises that train all the major muscle groups in the body.
If you do not have access to a gym, you can simply utilize your body weight.
The next step is learning how to include these exercises in an efficient workout program.
By Alex and Brittany Robles