Best Exercises: Our Top 10
by Carolina Diaz-Bordon
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3. BARBELL SQUATS -- Stand facing a squat rack with barbell upper chest height, walk under the bar and position it on the most upper part of the back and grasp barbell to sides. Space hands evenly on the barbell, shoulder width apart (or wider, if comfortable). Dismount bar
from rack and take a step backward. Knees should be in line with the toes. Maintain a neutral spine and a slight bend in the knees. Concentrating on the quadriceps muscles, begin to lower your body by bending from your hips and knees. Think about sitting back in a chair as you are lowering. Stick your butt out. The bar should descend in a vertical path so that the distribution of the weight is kept over the ankle. Stop when your thighs are parallel with the floor. Do not bounce at the bottom of the movement and do not let your knees ride over your toes. You should be able to see your toes. Exhale while returning to the starting position. Perform 15-20 reps with control. Beginners should practice the movement with no weight.
4. DUMBBELL WALKING LUNGES -- Stand straight with your feet slightly spread apart. Hold a dumbbell or cans in each hand with your arms down at your sides. With control, slowly step forward with the right leg and lower the left leg until the knee almost touches the floor. The step should be long enough that your left leg is nearly straight. Your right knee shouldn't pass your right foot. Don't let your knee touch the floor. Raise yourself up then, push off with the left foot and take the same long step you did with the right leg. Continue the walking lunge with each leg for 15-20 steps and then turn around and return in the same manner to the starting point.
5. DUMBBELL PLIE SQUATS -- Stand up straight with feet spread wide and toes pointed outward. Hold a dumbbell between your legs. Maintain a neutral spine and a slight bend in the knees throughout the exercise . Lower your body by bending from your hips and knees stopping when your thighs are parallel with the floor. Contracting the inner thigh muscles, slowly return to the starting position. Do not let your knees ride over your toes. Think about sitting back in a chair as you are lowering down and push off with your heels as you return to the starting position. Perform 15 reps.
6. DUMBBELL INCLINE CHEST PRESS -- Lie on your back on an incline bench with your spine in a neutral position. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at chest level with your elbows at a 90-degree angle facing outward and palms facing forward. Contracting the chest muscles, press both arms upward above the upper area of the chest until the arms are fully extended with a slight bend in the elbows. When reaching the top part of the movement above the upper chest, tighten your chest muscles for one second. Repeat for 12 reps.