This isn’t complicated. If you can only do a few exercises, then do these. They are all compound exercises meaning they involve lots of muscles. You should do all three on a regular basis. The CrossFit ‘Cindy’ combines all three of these exercises.
Remember: don’t throw your weight around. Perform these exercises at a measured pace through the full range of motion. I see some people doing CrossFit that kip up into their pull-ups. (Kipping involves snapping your whole body into position.) This is just using your momentum to get up into position. This is great for flexing at the bottom, but doesn’t do anything for the full-range of your muscles and creates imbalances you’ll have to deal with in the future. The only time to do this is when you’re a gymnast.
- Push-ups. These are the kings of fitness. These are the tried and true exercises. Guys will compete to do these to show who’s more macho. If you can do 100 straight, you da man! Push-ups work the chest, shoulders, biceps, and abs.
- Position: assume a good position with your arms extended and your hands shoulder-width apart directly under your shoulders and your feet
- There are three ways to do pushups:
- Dynamically – Rhythmically lower and raise yourself to the floor. Do lots of repetitions until you can’t anymore. You can drop to your knees to reduce the resistence.
- Isometrically – lower your body to just above the floor and hold this position. Hold for as long as possible.
- IsoDynamic – lower yourself to a count of 5, hold the position to a count of 10, raise up to the starting position to a count of 5.
- Pull-ups are great for your back. Actually, they are one of the best exercises for your back. They also work your biceps and your abs.
- Position (You’ll need a pull-up bar for these):
- Again, there several ways to do pull-ups:
- Dynamically – start in the lower position with your arms fully extended and pull yourself up so your chin is over the bar. Do as many of these as you possibly can.
- Isometrically – start with your arms fully extended and pull yourself up to the top. Hold that position for as long as you can.
- IsoDynamic – Do as many dynamic pull-ups as possible. Grasp the bar and get an assist (jump, stool, etc.) up to the top position. Either hold the top position or slowly lower yourself until your arms are fully extended.
Squats are super great exercises. We used to squat a lot when we were children, but as we age, it’s something we avoid. Squats strengthen your lower body and lower back. The can be done with or without weights. Form is pretty important. Start standing up (these won’t work if you can’t stand up.) and slowly lower yourself into a squatting position. At the bottom, the tops of your thighs should be parallel to the floor. If your calves are flexible you may be able to keep your heels on the floor.
- Position: The figure below shows good starting and ending positions.
- Ways to do squats:
- Dynamically – rapidly, moving up and down. You can add resistance with weights such as dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells.
- Isometrically – lower into the seated position and hold it. You can also do this while resting your back against a wall.
- IsoDynamic – lower your body into position and hold for a count of 10. Raise up to a standing position and lower yourself into a squatting position.
Each of the programs I recommend for fitness contain these three exercises and the various methods for performing the exercises.