Seven Best Exercises To Whip Your Whole Body Into Shape

Need a total body workout? Hey, who doesn’t? But also, who has time?

Well, we all might if we follow the seven best exercises to make a total body workout happen. How quickly you perform each is up to you, but they are all designed to keep the heart pumping and the muscles growing without taking up too much of your day.

According to The Manual, the seven best exercises are as follows:

Planks: A plank is relatively easy to perform and offers a good warmup to the rest of the routine. Simply lay on your stomach, lift yourself with and rest on your elbows, with your toes pushing up your legs. Hold for 30 seconds, performing three sets.

Single-Leg Deadlift: Stand on one leg, lean slightly forward and stretch one leg behind your back, balancing on the other. Hold a weight (probably no less than 5 lbs.) in the hand opposite of the leg that you’re using to maintain balance. Switch legs. Do three sets of 10 reps on each leg.

Side Planks: This is the same general idea as a plank, only you turn onto your side, again propped up by your elbow. While propped up, lift the leg with which you are not supporting yourself. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then turn to your other side and do it again. Perform three sets on each side.

Overhead Squats: The Manual refers to this as the “epitome of the total body exercise.” For this, you will need a straight bar and free weights. Place the bar on your shoulder, with your legs shoulder-width apart. “Hold the barbell on your upper back, and with your elbows underneath the bar, drive the barbell upwards overhead while dropping into a squat position making a ‘Y’ with your body,” as explained in The Manual. Perform three sets of 10 reps.

Split Squats: For this exercise, you’ll need a pair of dumbbells. Any weight will do. Once you grab those, get into a standard lunge and hold the pose. Then squat up and down, slowly straightening both legs as you exhale. Shoot for three sets of 15.

Reverse Plank: Yeah, it’s yet another form of the same routine. But rather than facing the ground, such as the plank described earlier, you start on your back. Then raise yourself up off the floor with your arms and heels, facing the ceiling (or the sky, for you outdoors types). Again try to hold the pose for 30 seconds, performing three sets.

Sumo Squats: If you’ve ever seen Sumo wrestling, you already know the pose — legs bent, arms straight out, head raised, back straight. You want to start standing straight up, but then dip down into position. “Spread the legs about a foot wider than from a normal squat. When squatting down, try not to stick your butt out,” The Manuel suggested. Try for three sets of 15 reps.

And that’s it. You’re done and you’ve completed a total body workout. With a couple of dumbbells, you probably won’t even need to go to the gym. For images and a full explanation of every exercise, visit The Manual page at this link.

Written by Sam Amico


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  1. Get a stationary bike. (There are bikes less $400 that look like a Pelaton) I could not do 2 minutes the first day, but I put 1000 miles on it the first year. Lost 30 lbs, 12 points off blood pressure, and I have muscles toned-up I never knew I had. My only regret is that I waited until after age 50 to start this.

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