When you walk into a gym it is easy to get overwhelmed by the options. There are endless machines and racks of free weights to train with and at it can be hard to determine what exercises are absolutely essential in your workout. The following exercises are compound movements that work multiple muscle groups at a time. Instead of zoning in on small muscle groups, these exercises work large and small muscles to give you a complete foundation for your workout.
Squats are by far the best exercise for your lower body. Not only do you use stabilization muscles to balance the weight, but you work your quadriceps, hamstring, glute and calf muscles all in one solid movement. If you have bad knees make sure you use wraps and do not go too heavy on the weight. Wear a lifting belt so you protect your back and are not prone to injury.
Another compound movement, push ups are the upper body equivalent to squats. You work your chest, back, shoulders triceps and abs all in one movement. It is one of the best exercises to strengthen your core and is one of the primary movements in Yoga and Pilates.
Not only are pull ups and chin ups one of the most difficult exercises, they are great for your back and biceps as well as your core. Most gyms have machines that help you train for pull ups by offsetting your weight with weights. This is a great place to start to build up the strength to do pull ups on your own.