Friday, November 10, 2006

ACE’s Top Ten Exercises You Can’t Live Without

Fitness experts are constantly coming up with new and innovative ways to exercise. Even so, there are some essential exercises that will always play an important part of any well-rounded workout. Here are ACE’s top 10 exercises you just can’t live without:

Squats: The squat strengthens all of the major muscles of the lower body, including the gluteals, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. Add hand weights to increase the intensity.

Lunges: Like the squat, the lunge works all the major muscles of the lower body as well as the stabilizer muscles that are used to keep you balanced as you move into and out of the lunge position.

Push-ups: Push-ups strengthen the chest and the triceps and stabilize the core as you hold your body in a plank position. To increase the intensity of this exercise, place your feet or hands on a stability ball or platform.

Pull-ups: Performed with or without assistance, pull-ups are a great way to strengthen the muscles of the upper body, particularly the latissimus dorsi, posterior deltoids and biceps.

Shoulder press: The overhead shoulder press, which effectively targets the anterior deltoids, can be performed while sitting or standing, with either dumbbells or elastic tubing.

Triceps dips: Requiring no more equipment than a bench or the edge of a chair, triceps dips are the perfect exercise to work not only your triceps, but also your pectoralis major and anterior deltoids.

Seated Rows: The seated row, which can be done using elastic tubing, a cable and pulley or a seated row machine, is a great exercise for the upper back, including the latissimus dorsi and rhomboids, as well as the biceps.

Abdominal Exercises: Strong abdominals are key to maintaining a strong core. While there are many variations of abdominal exercises, research suggests that abdominal crunches on a stability ball may be the most effective.

Walking: Slip on a pair of comfortable shoes and head out the front door—what could be easier? Walking is a great low-impact, cardiovascular workout for people of all fitness levels. Start out slowly and gradually increase both speed and distance over time. Add hills for a greater challenge.

Running: When it comes to improving cardiovascular fitness and burning calories, running is both effective and efficient. But it can also be hard on the joints, so it’s best to ease into this activity and avoid the common mistake of doing too much too soon.

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