A is for Ab Rollers
The Move: The ab roller is a staple piece of equipment if you want that coveted six-pack. You start on your knees and roll your body out into a fully extended position. Essentially it is like a moving plank that works the entire body (especially the abs)
The Benefits: Some consider the ab roller to be the best core exercise out there. Rollouts might look easy, but they provide far greater stress on your abs than most workouts. In turn, you’ll have more muscular and more defined abs. Continue reading to learn more about The A to Z Guide of Exercise
B is for Bulgarian Split Squats
The Move: Place one leg behind you in an elevated position. Pick up a pair of dumbbells and perform a regular lunge, keeping that leg in the same high position. It’s like a regular lunge except with more benefits.
The Benefits: Bulgarian split squats strengthen the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Along with that, your core will be put to the test as you try to maintain your balance. Single leg training has to be a staple in your leg workouts as it will correct any imbalances.
C is for Chin-ups
The Move: Grab a pull-up bar with an underhanded, narrow grip. Pull yourself up past your chin and squeeze your biceps at the top as if you wanted them to pop. For a better challenge, invest in a pull-up/dip belt and throw some plates on it.
The Benefits: Chin-ups offer a tremendous benefit to the biceps, back, shoulders, and forearms. Also, they improve posture and help stabilize the spine.
D is for Dumbbell Clean And Press
The Move: Start in a deadlift position with two dumbbells (use a weight you can handle). Deadlift the dumbbells past your midline and onto your shoulders. Try not to bend your back and focus on using your legs when you go past midline; you should be squatting the dumbbells up the rest of the way. After the dumbbells are cleaned onto your shoulders, press them up over your shoulders. Reverse the motion for your next rep.
The Benefits: This is the king of dumbbell exercises and works your entire body. You’ll build strength, but more importantly, power and explosivity. In addition, the clean and press work your core and stabilizer muscles making it one hell of an exercise.
E is for External Rotation (Shoulders)
The Move: The more we do push-type exercises like the bench press, push-up, or dips, the more our shoulders become internally rotated. Internal rotation is great for getting a full-contraction on those moves but bad for our posture. That’s why face-pulls, banded pull-apart, and rotator cuff exercises are essential in fitness.
The Benefits: Externally rotated exercises are easy enough to do every day and will fix rounded shoulders, eliminate shoulder pain, and allow you to lift more weight overall.
F is for Farmer Carries
The Move: Grab two dumbbells or kettlebells and walk around your gym or designated workout area. Once your grip begins to slip or you cannot maintain an upright posture, drop the weight.
The Benefits: The farmer’s carry targets your entire upper and lower body (also your core). More specifically, they strengthen the muscles in your biceps, triceps, forearms, shoulders, upper back, traps, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, lower back, obliques, and abs, just to name a few.
G is for Goblet Squats
The Move: Grab a single dumbbell and hold it out and in front of you. Your hands should be in a crush-grip position, and your legs should be in a squat-like stance. Squat the weight down and go low enough so that your quads are parallel.
The Benefits: Goblet squats are quad killer. They also work your calves, glutes, and entire core.
H is for HIIT Training
The Move: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a cardio session that focuses on short bursts of maximum effort. HIIT sessions aren’t long, but as the name implies, they are brutal. Common HIIT exercises include hill sprints, battle ropes, burpees, and box jumps, to name a few.
The Benefits: If there ever were a type of exercise that melts pounds away while simultaneously sustaining and sometimes building muscle, it would be HIIT. These sessions also increase your metabolic rate for hours after training, making you a fat-burning machine.
I is for Incline Bench Press
The Move: Find an incline bench press or adjust a standard bench to a 15-30 degree angle. Use dumbbells or a barbell to perform a bench press on this incline.
The Benefits: The incline bench puts more work on the upper pecs. When you develop stronger upper pecs, your chest looks fuller and bulkier overall.
J is for Jump Squats
The Move: Grab a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells and start in a squat stance. Perform a regular squat and jump when you reach the top. Because of the explosiveness of this exercise, it’s best to lower the weight and instead focus on power.
The Benefits: Jump squats build explosive power and burn calories faster than regular squats. Also, they make you faster if you’re looking to improve overall speed and quickness as a runner.
K is for Kettlebell Swings
The Move: Stand up straight and grab a kettlebell with both hands having the larger side facing towards you. Perform a squat while swinging the kettlebell inwards between your legs, and as you launch up, swing the kettlebell out while contracting your glutes.
The Benefits: Kettlebells are much more versatile than dumbbells, and this move puts that on display. Kettlebell swings strengthen your core, glutes, hamstrings, quads, back, delts, and arms. If you have to decide between kettlebells and dumbbells, choose the former if you want a more intense workout.
L is for Lateral Raises
The Move: Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them at your side, laterally. Raise them either slowly or explosively (different paces provide different stresses) and keep your thumbs up to prevent internal rotation at the shoulders.
The Benefits: Lateral raises are a staple exercise for developing your mid-delt. When performed slowly, they can better target the microfibers of the muscle; and when performed explosively, you can add more weight to the exercise.
M is for Mountain Climbers
The Move: Place your hands in front of you on the ground and maintain a straight back. Then proceed to quickly alternate your legs in and back out for a minute at a time.
The Benefits: Mountain climbers strike the fear of god into athletes of all fitness levels. The benefits of the exercise are incumbent on your effort level; Mountain climbers build endurance, core strength, and agility.
N is for Narrow Grip Bench Press
The Move: Sit on a bench press as if you were going to perform the exercise normally. Grab the barbell with a narrow grip (shoulder length is fine) and proceed with the exercise, but contract your triceps at the top of each rep.
The Benefits: The narrow grip bench press is the king of tricep exercises. It allows you to overload the triceps, thus building strength and mass.
O is for Oblique Exercises
The Move: Often forgotten about when beginners are targetting their abs, obliques give the body a tapered look and make you much look leaner in general. Many of these exercises involve twisting your body and allow your abs to stabilize your core. Some examples include Russian Twists, side-crunches, Wood Choppers, and twisting ab rollouts (simply turn to the left or right)
Benefits: In addition to a more aesthetically pleasing body, stronger obliques reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and improve performance in physical activities involving quick movements and twisting.
P is for Pull-Ups
The Move: Grab a pull-up bar (or any bar above you in general) and have your hands positioned slightly outside shoulder width. Contract your back muscles and pull with your elbows — not your arms — until your chin is above the bar.
The Benefits: If there ever were an ultimate move for your upper back, it would be the pull-up. Pull-ups work out the lats, shoulders, biceps, and improve grip strength. They’re also o convenient, as all you need is a body and a bar.
Q is for Quad Stretches
The Move: One of the most important muscle groups to stretch out, especially if you’re a runner or are performing heavily weighted leg exercises. A few common ways to stretch your quads are the lying quad stretch, the kneeling stretch, or using a foam roller to alleviate tension.
The Benefits: A few minutes of stretching your quads can save you from a world of trouble, specifically knee pain. Stretching the quads will reduce overall tightness and improve your mobility overall.
R is for Romanian Deadlifts
The Move: Grab a barbell or a set of dumbbells and start in the deadlift position. Deadlift the weight up normally and then bend down, hingeing at the hips and maintaining a straight back. Once you reach past your knees and feel the tension in your hamstrings, pull back up for the next repetition.
The Benefits: Romanian deadlifts are a killer lower body workout and develop the posterior chain muscles. These include the hamstrings, glutes, rector spinae, and adductors.
S is for Sumo Deadlift
The Move: Once again, start in a deadlift position and widen your stance so that your legs are nearing the plates. Don’t go too wide that it feels uncomfortable; you should look like a sumo wrestler. Place your hands at shoulder length on the barbell and deadlift the weight.
The Benefits: Much like the conventional deadlift, sumo deadlifts are a total body powerhouse of an exercise. Sumo deadlifts, however, have a better focus on the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and other muscles of the posterior chain.
T is for Turkish Get-Ups
The Move: A rather complicated move that should be studied as a video before ever attempting. Essentially you start on the ground with a kettlebell or dumbbell at your side. You then grab the weight and work your way through a series of moves until you’re standing upright. Then you reverse the movement back down.
The Benefits: There’s a reason that UFC athletes love Turkish get-ups; it’s because they work your entire body while improving mobility, flexibility, and overall strength. Anyone can get started with this exercise and immediately reap the benefits.
U is for Upper Back and Traps
The Move: The uppermost back muscles are often neglected unless you’re an intermediate or advanced fitness goer. Exercises include barbell/dumbbell shrugs and face pulls.
The Benefits: Along with looking more aesthetically pleasing and giving your body a more substantial presence as a whole, traps play an important role in injury prevention, specifically reducing blows to the shoulder area.
V is for V-Sit
The Move: Lay on the ground and angle your body into a v-like position. Contract your abs and hold until failure.
The Benefits: Feel the burn! V-sits are an isometric exercise for your abs and improve core stability and spinal flexion.
W is for Weighted Dips
The Move: Find a dip station or an area where you can adequately dip your body low enough without hurting yourself. To target the lower pecs, you should stick your chest and angle yourself downward; to target the triceps, you should maintain a straight position and contract your triceps at the top. The exercise doesn’t have to be weighted if you’re a beginner.
The Benefits: Weighted dips are another powerhouse exercise for your upper body. They develop the chest, triceps, shoulders, and core muscles.
X is for X-Raise
The Move: Hang from a bar and raise your legs until they’re well above your midline; you should be able to see your ass if you’re performing the move correctly. Contract your abs throughout the exercise, and when lowering your legs, do so in an x-formation.
The Benefits: The X-Raise targets the tricky-to-develop lower abs. This exercise does so by forcing you to lift the weight of your legs, thus putting more stress on your core.
Y is for Yoga
The Move: Many athletes and weekend warriors alike ignore the endless benefits of stretching. There are too many moves to account for, so here’s a list of common stretches to try. That said, do not stretch before an exercise; studies show that stretching reduces strength and speed before training.
Z is for Zumba!
The Move: Movement is the single best way to boost your metabolism. Walk for an hour, do chores around the house, or, if you’re looking to get a great workout in and increase your dance skill, consider a Zumba class.
The Benefits: Through moving just a little bit more in a day — choosing the stair over the elevator or parking your car farther away from its destination — we can significantly boost our metabolism.