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posted: 1/18/2014 5:45 AM

Exercise selection is key to getting results

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  • There aren't many exercises that elicit as much muscle recruitment as the dead lift.

      There aren't many exercises that elicit as much muscle recruitment as the dead lift.
    courtesy of Joshua Steckler

  • The kettlebell swing is a tough exercise, so start light and work your way up.

      The kettlebell swing is a tough exercise, so start light and work your way up.
    courtesy of Joshua Steckler

  • The plank is a foundational exercise that builds core strength and stability.

      The plank is a foundational exercise that builds core strength and stability.
    courtesy of Joshua Steckler

 

Hopefully by now, you're settling into your new workout routine and noticing some positive changes.

How do you choose the exercises that make up your workouts?

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When it comes to weight loss and improving body composition, exercise selection is key to getting results. To help you maximize results, we've narrowed down a handful of movements that should be an integral part of your workout routine, pending physical limitations.

Planks, or any variation originating from the plank position. The plank is a foundational exercise that builds core strength and stability. A strong core allows you to handle more weight and more reps. A strong core helps you maintain proper form and protects your spine from injury. A strong core also improves natural biomechanics and posture.

If you've mastered the basic plank, try this variation: Lie on your side with your bottom arm bent 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearm and feet. Reach your top arm toward the ceiling and hold this position. If this is too easy, raise your top leg or hold a dumbbell with your free arm.

The Dead lift. There aren't many exercises that elicit as much muscle recruitment as the dead lift. A proper dead lift uses the legs, hips, core, back, shoulders, and arms as well as many stabilizing muscles in-between.

If you practice the dead lift frequently, you know that a proper dead lift allows you to move large amounts of weight in relation to other exercises. But the deadlift's benefits go far beyond maximal muscle recruitment.

By deadlifting challenging loads, you are supporting the hormonal response that leads to a leaner and tighter body. To perform a dead lift, step up to a weighted barbell with shins nearly touching the bar and feet hip to shoulder width apart. Squat down toward the bar as you keep your heels firmly planted while maintaining a natural curve through your back.

Grasp the bar slightly wider than shoulder width and tense your body. As you lift the weight, push your feet into the floor while exhaling. Be sure to keep the bar close to the body as you lift. Maintain your posture throughout the lift, keeping tension through your shoulder blades as you rise to the top position. Control the weight back down to the floor and repeat.

The Kettlebell Swing. Like the dead lift, the kettlebell swing recruits numerous muscles, but also adds the challenge of controlling the power you create. It's a ballistic movement that improves aerobic and anaerobic capacity, power, stability, and even posture.

The kettlebell swing is a tough exercise, so start light. To perform, take a shoulder width foot position over the top of a kettlebell. Squat down while inhaling and maintain your natural posture. Grab the kettlebell with both hands, tighten your core, and make sure your heels are planted.

As you stand up, exhale and force your hips forward while straightening your legs and allow that force to move up through your arms to swing the kettlebell upward to an overhead position. Keep control as the kettlebell swings back down between your legs and repeat.

For the complete list of exercises, go to PushFitnessTraining.com and click on the Facebook link on our home page.

• Joshua Steckler is the owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning, and nutrition. Contact him at PushFitnessTraining.com.

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