There are certain exercises that should be a part of everyone’s fitness routine as they benefit every age group. Such functional exercises are based on movements from routine activities and therefore, help strengthen the muscles like abdomen, back and hips which are used for engaging in day-to-day activities. Another interesting aspect is that such exercises are beneficial for every person whether their goal is to lose fat, build muscle mass or improve overall fitness levels.
The best part? All these are relatively easy to perform, require no equipment, can be done in the convenience of your home and hardly take any time!
You should ideally start with 8 repetitions of each exercise and progressively increase up to 12-15 repetitions per set for 3 sets.
Squat is one of the best functional exercises as it helps you build muscle, increase muscle efficiency and improve your balance. Therefore, squatting just by itself makes your body stronger to perform everyday activities in the real world. Also, as squats help develop more muscle, it ends up leading to more continuous fat burn.
Muscles involved: Squats work on your leg muscles, especially your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Squats also improve the range of motion in your ankles and hips and help improve overall body balance.
How to perform squat: Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, weight on your heels and knees centered over your feet. Slowly bend your knees keeping them over your toes and push your hips back to reach a 90-degree angle. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Push-ups is one of the simplest and the best bodyweight exercise for your core, chest, and arms. Push-ups engage your shoulders, triceps, biceps, back, chest, core, and glutes. By engaging all of these muscles at once, push-ups burn a lot of calories, reduce fat and improve your metabolic rate. This, in turn, leads to toned muscles and increased endurance.
Push-ups also improve the strength of your upper body, develops postural support and helps perform daily activities such as pushing and reach for things.
An added advantage with push-ups is that being a compound exercise which engages a wide range of muscles, it leads to increase in the production and release of the human growth hormone, which leads to increased muscle growth.
Muscles involved: Muscles involved while performing push-ups are pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, triceps brachii, biceps, triceps, rectus abdominus, obliques, quadriceps, and erector spinae.
How to perform push-up: Start with your face down on the floor and weight balanced on your toes and hands. Your hands should be a little wider than your shoulders, toes at hip-width and back straight. Slowly, in a controlled manner, bend your arms and lower your body toward the floor to reach a 90-degree angle. Return to the starting position to complete one repetition, keeping your body in a straight line.
The plank is an isometric exercise, meaning that it develops muscles by engaging the muscles in a held position for a prolonged period of time. Plank helps develop postural support, strengthen your abdomen, core, back and shoulder muscles, while also increasing balance and body stability.
Performing a plank, therefore, challenges your entire body and burns more calories than other abdominal only focused exercises. Also, by strengthening your muscles, you end up increasing your Basal Metabolic Rate, which is the number of calories consumed by the body while it is at rest.
Muscles involved: Transversus and rectus abdominals, erector spinae, trapezius and rhomboids, quadriceps, deltoids, obliques, gluteus minimus, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings.
How to perform plank: Start with lying on the floor on your stomach and place your elbows below your shoulders. Your palms should be face down in front of you, fingers pointing away from your head. Contract your abdominal muscles, flex your thighs and rest your feet on tiptoes. Gradually lift your body, keeping your back and head straight and support yourself using only your forearms and your toes for as long as comfortable and then slowly lower yourself back to the ground. Try and maintain the position for 10 seconds initially and increase as your strength develops.
Lunges are compound movements, which elevate your heart rate while targeting several muscle groups simultaneously. Generally, lunges are performed to increase the strength of the thighs and hips.
Lunges increase functional strength, balance, and stability. In addition to working on your glutes hamstrings and quadriceps, lunges also involve calf muscles, your abdominal muscles, and your back muscles.
Muscles involved: Lunges work on quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteals.
How to perform a forward lunge: Start with your legs slightly apart and arms at your sides. Engage your abdominal muscles and keep your back straight. Take two to three steps forward with your right leg and then bend both of your knees to lower yourself down into a lunge. Each knee should ideally create a 90-degree angle. Press with your right feet to extend your leg and hip, and return to the standing position. Repeat the forward lunge with your left leg.
How to perform a static lunge: Start by standing with your right foot forward and your left foot back. Engage your abdominal muscles and keep your back straight. Maintain this position and bend both of your knees to lower yourself down into a lunge. Continue down until your left knee nears the floor then come back upward using your legs to straighten them and complete one repetition. First, perform the repetitions with your left leg behind you, and then repeat the exercise with your right leg.
Burpee is an excellent cardiovascular building exercise that gets and maintain your heart rate up, and is, therefore, a high-calorie burner. Burpees involve your arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and core muscles, and is one of the best exercises to boost your strength and endurance for sports and other activities.
Muscles involved: Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, erector spinae, rectus abdominal, deltoids and also cardiac muscles.
How to perform burpee: Start with your feet at the hip distance and bring your palms to the floor. Jump and take your feet back to get into a high plank position, keeping your core contracted and hips lifted. (Depending on your comfort level, do a push-up by bending your elbows, returning to the high plank position.) Now jump and take your feet to the outside of your hands. Then jump up and take your arms overhead. Do as many repetitions as you comfortably can.