How do you recognize the best fitness exercises?
You can do thousands of fitness exercises at home or in the gym.
If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering:
“Which exercises allow for the best progress?”
In the gym, I regularly observe people who train ineffectively.
For example, the gentlemen who do butterflies when they’re not curling their biceps. Or the ladies on the ab and adductor machine.
They probably don’t lack the will. Nevertheless, they invest a lot of time in routines of little use.
Probably because they don’t know the champions among fitness exercises. Maybe because they simply underestimate them.
If you’ve read this article in its entirety, you’ll feel what proper strength training means.
Then you know how to recognize the 20% of all fitness exercises that account for 80% of your success.
What does “the best fitness exercises” mean?
The best fitness exercises will help you achieve your goal as directly as possible.
The “R” of the MBSC formula – proper strength training – helps you in both respects.
Other factors also play a role, for example, the length of the sentence breaks or the number of repetitions.
However, this is less useful if your training plan is based on ineffective exercises. You will now learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff here.
Checklist: 4 characteristics of highly effective fitness exercises
Most fitness exercises are simply variations of some basic exercise.
These basic movement patterns in ALL training plans bring a lot and take little time.
If a fitness exercise meets the following four requirements, it is a champion:
- It’s functional. The exercise depicts everyday movement patterns.
- It uses a lot of muscle mass at the same time.
- It involves more than just one joint.
- You need a lot of energy to perform them.
Case Study #1 – Leg Extension Machine
Do you know the leg extension machine? It is a good example of an ineffective isolation exercise:
- How many everyday movement patterns can you think of that involve stretching your leg forward with a lot of force? I know few.
- On the leg extension machine, you train almost exclusively in the front of the thighs (quadriceps). That’s comparatively little muscle mass.
- You only use one joint, the knee joint.
- You don’t need nearly as much energy as the next example.
Case Study #2 – Squat
The squat is one of the most effective basic exercises at home and in the studio:
- A squat is functional: how often do you get up and sit down each day?
- Few fitness exercises activate such a large muscle mass as the squat. During the barbell bend, the entire body is under maximum tension.
- The squat involves multiple joints: the knee, hip, and ankle.
- Squats are real energy guzzlers, which is why they make you sweat quickly (in contrast to the leg extension machine).
More highly effective fitness exercises
If you want to lose body fat, build muscle, or just want a nicely defined physique, then squats are the number one choice for your training program.
Fitness exercises are in the same league as:
- rowing and pull exercises,
- pressure exercises,
- core exercises.
That doesn’t mean you should never do isolation exercises, by the way.
How to find the right balance of compound and isolation exercises.
Isolation exercises such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, or calf raises are the icing on your training plan.
They help you find the right balance and accents while shaping your body.
An acquaintance (trained carpenter) would probably put it like this:
Basic exercises are like a planer. They bring you rapid progress.
Isolation exercises are the sandpaper you use to work out the finishing touches.
Some people work on fine-tuning right from the start.
I suspect many of them are wondering why, if at all, they are only making micro steps.
Some blame their genetics and give up in frustration.
Successful stayers find the right balance:
It won’t be nearly as effective if a training plan relies more on machines and isolation exercises than on basic exercises.
In concrete terms, you would burn fewer calories and release fewer fat-loss and muscle-building hormones.
Therefore, compound exercises (and their variations) form the foundation of any effective training plan. Isolation exercises set accents.
Fitness exercises for home and studio: How to choose your champions
Where do you train, in the home gym, or are you a studio member?
The answer to this question is just as important as the experience you bring to the workout.
Point 1: It depends on whether you are looking for the best fitness exercises to do at home or in the gym
Which fitness exercises are optimal depends largely on where you train and the available equipment.
Where you train is entirely your decision – there is always a suitable solution.
For me, there is no real alternative to a good gym. It inspires me to be surrounded by people who train ambitiously in a pleasant atmosphere.
Other factors may play a role for you.
Maybe the gym isn’t your thing. Many people prefer to train all by themselves.
Perhaps the trip to the studio is inconvenient for you. Maybe you don’t need a studio because your Home Gym is perfectly equipped.
No matter where you train, it’s a good idea if you:
- uses more training equipment with increasing experience.
- vary your training plan regularly every 8-12 weeks.
If you’re starting, the Visual Impact for Women provides an entry-level cycle-one training plan that includes the best fitness exercises for both home and gym.
Once you complete a training cycle, you can choose alternative exercises with a similar movement pattern. Or you invest in new equipment that gives you more variety and new training stimuli.
You might also decide to look for a gym that suits you.
Point 2: It depends on your starting point
Whether you are just starting out or have been weight training for many months or even years, it makes a difference.
I could show you many top fitness exercises, but many require a solid foundation of strength and a few weeks or months of continued practice.
There are some excellent all-rounders, but they are unsuitable for the overweight or untrained.
Take pull-ups: one of the best exercises for the upper back and upper body. Anyone who is severely overweight or has yet to develop their strength will not be able to do it.
If you can’t pull up yet, you can set that as a goal and then incorporate pull-ups into your training plan when you’re light and/or strong enough.
A pull-up bar looks good in every apartment. (Here, I show you how you can do twice as many pull-ups in 28 days. In the Visual Impact, you will find a variant of this fitness exercise at home if you currently cannot do a pull-up.)
Best fitness exercises – Conclusion
Functional, multi-joint, and strenuous home and studio fitness exercises are the most effective. They also use as much muscle mass as possible.
While there are thousands of fitness exercises, the basics are simple. In my training plans, you will find squats, deadlifts, barbell rows, and core exercises.
Simple doesn’t have to mean monotonous.
On the contrary, it’s a good idea to try more and more fitness exercises and incorporate variations as your training experience progresses.
Variation not only brings more variety to your training but also provides continuously new training stimuli.
Incidentally, there is a third crucial criterion that the “best fitness exercise” must meet:
It’s an exercise you enjoy.
Because that’s the only way to keep going.