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5 top exercises a gym-goer must never ignore

Forget all that you’ve read in fitness magazines, or your neighbourhood trainer's hyperbole. Some exercises take pride of place in any fitness enthusiast's pecking order, and you cannot ignore them if you want to stay fit. If you are not dreaming of those elusive six-packs, we give you 5 exercises every gym-goer must include in his routine.

health and fitness Updated: Aug 04, 2014 13:33 IST

Forget all that you’ve read in fitness magazines, or what your fellow gym-goer tells you. There are a few exercises that have the pride of place in the exercise pecking order, and you just cannot ignore them if you want to stay fit. If your goal is just to be fit, and are not really dreaming of those six-pack abs yet, just do these 5 and you’d be laughing all the way back from your gym.

Also see: 5 exercises big on hype, but totally useless

Plank: Yes, it's one of the simplest one around. You just need to hold your body straight like a plank. The longer you hold it, the more challenging it gets. But it's not as simple as it looks. It takes the majority of the muscles in your body, from your core, legs, shoulders and others to help you stay in that position. As you build your ability to hold the plank position, target to hold it for longer durations.

Good for: Abs and a strong core


Squat: Another basic movement for the body, the mighty squat is a classic exercise that engages the largest muscles in your body, your quadriceps and glutes. Most people can perform at least 1 squat. Target to do 3 sets of 10 repetitions. If that’s too hard, build your stamina to do them. If it’s too easy, add some weight, with dumbbells and barbells, or try the elusive one-legged squat (Be forewarned that the one-leg squat is a really advanced exercise, and requires not just strength but practise to perform correctly).

Good for: Legs


Push-up: This is another classic strength exercise. From newbies to black belt commandos, everyone does this exercise. It's great for the muscles on your chest, shoulders and arms. If you do it right, you'll even use your abs for this exercise. Push-ups are synonymous with men. But women too should do this too. If you are not sure that you are doing it right, restrict it to just one, and then try the knee push-up.

Good for: Chest, arms and shoulders


Considering the amount of time we spend sitting, the lunge should be one of the most primary exercises in your list. We tell you why. While we are in the sitting position, we typically disengage the glute muscles (that give shape to your bum). When we disengage these muscles, they become weak and small. This gives rise to the 'flat bum' syndrome, and is also associated with metabolic and lifestyle disorders. To fix this, you need to perform the lunge. It's as simple as taking a deep big step.

You can do this at home, in the gym with weights, or even do jumping lunges to make it a cardio workout

Good for: Your glutes (bum muscles)

The pull-up is a slightly advanced exercise. It requires strength and technique, but it's a brilliant exercise to burn calories and improve upper body muscle and rev up your metabolic rate. Oh, and to get a great v-shaped body. Again women, do not worry. You're not going to get a massive v-shape from doing pull-ups. If anything, it will help you 'shape' up more.

Being able to lift your own bodyweight is a primary fitness test, and if you're looking to get fit, you must be challenge yourself to do at least 1 pull-up with proper form.

Good for: Back and arms


Realistically there are thousands of exercises out there, so to say that these are the 5 best exercises out there is inaccurate. And even these 5 exercises have tonnes of variations. But what we're saying is that these 5 movements and the resulting stress on your musculature is key. The idea is that if you're covering these 5 exercises somewhere in your routine, then you're better off, than if you're not. And if you’re not exercising, please start!

Dhruv Gupta is the founder of the Fitho (an online weight loss diet programme, and the author of a book on healthy living, Losing It- Making Weight Loss Simple.

First Published: Jul 28, 2014 15:10 IST