Some basic exercises become workout staples for a reason. Almost any well-rounded fitness routine will incorporate these five moves, because you don’t need clunky gym equipment or fancy accessories when it comes to toning and strengthening your arms and legs.
These five basic exercises are the pillars of strength training and bodyweight training. If you need a basic, all-over bodyweight workout in a pinch, this is your go to.
Squats are an essential move to incorporate into any routine, but especially if you are looking to tone and strengthen your legs. Squats focus on the quads and butt, but build muscles on the entire leg. You can use a barbell on your back, dumbbells at your side, or simply use your bodyweight.
- To perform a squat, stand in a hip-width stance with feet pointing out at 45-degree angles.
- Roll your shoulders back and down.
- Sit back into squat as far as you can. You should envision yourself sitting on a chair to simulate this motion correctly.
- Contract your glutes and use them to bring yourself up from the squatting position.
- Aim to complete three sets of 12 repetitions.
Of course, you can adjust the amount of repetitions, weight, and sets to your desired intensity.
Push-ups are a key movement that work the arms as well as the chest. It’s an easy bodyweight movement to throw into your routine since you don’t need equipment. If you like to work similar muscles with weights, you can perform bench presses.
- To complete a push-up, start in a plank position.
- Your head and neck should be in neutral alignment with your arms under you shoulders.
- Your back should be straight in a horizontal alignment.
- Lower down by leading with your chest.
- Push back up to the starting position for one repetition.
- Aim for three sets of 10-12 repetitions.
If you would like a variation to the push-up movement, you can perform them on your knees.
Lunges focus on the front and back of the legs and the butt. Lunges can be completed with a barbell on your back, dumbbells at your sides, or with your bodyweight. These variations allow you to be able to complete the movement anywhere to tone your legs.
- To perform the lunge, step forward with your right foot and lunge it forward to a 90-degree angle.
- Your left leg will bend accordingly.
- Next, step your left foot forward to lunge your leg at a 90-degree angle.
- Keep alternating until you reach 25 repetitions.
- Aim to complete three sets.
If you would like to, you can perform stationary lunges where you keep one leg in the 90-degree bend and lunge up and down repeatedly before switching to the other side.
4. Triceps Dips
Triceps dips work the back of your arms, which is an area that many are focused on toning. With this exercise move, you only need a bench, ledge or chair and your bodyweight.
- To perform dips, place your palms on a chair or ledge with your fingers pointing toward you.
- Lower your arms down into 90-degree angle bends at your elbows.
- Your elbows should be pointing backward away from you.
- Once you’ve hit your 90-degree bend, straighten your arms to come to full extension.
- This counts for one repetition.
- You can extend your legs all of the way out in front of you or bend them and bring them in closer to make the movement a bit easier.
- Aim to complete three sets of 15 repetitions.
This movement requires dumbbells or a barbell and does an excellent job at targeting your hamstrings and glutes. It’s a compound movement that you can do in place.
- Grab a barbell or dumbbells and stand up straight with your shoulder rolled back in a hip-width stance.
- Your feet should point slightly outward.
- Slowly lower the weights down, with your knees slightly bent.
- Focus on keeping the weight close to your legs throughout the entire movement.
- Lower until your hamstrings feel taut, and then contract your glutes to bring them back up into a standing position.
- Aim for three sets of 12 repetitions.
- You should feel fatigued by the last repetition, so adjust your weight accordingly.