With one day left to lock in our resolutions, hardcore fitness buffs are deciding what athletic feat they’ll tackle this year: Tough Mudder? A marathon on a new continent? Finally learning to surf?
For the rest of us semi-athletic, but mostly lazy, people who really just want to tone up so we look slightly better naked, it’s a time to set a ridiculously ambitious fitness goal that we work towards for approximately 18 days before throwing in the towel.
But this year, instead of resolving to completely overall your entre fitness regimen—and shelling out $200 a month for that fancy boxing gym that you’ll never use—why not resolve to do something you can actually accomplish?
Forget the marathon that you’ll train for for a month before remembering that you hate running with a passion. Skip the miserable 5 a.m. bootcamp classes—you’re not a morning person; never will be. Instead, set yourself up for success by resolving to add just one exercise to your fitness routine.
Do we have your attention?
If you’re going to add just one exercise to your 2016 workout plan … what should it be?
We asked the fitness experts exactly that. And their answers will allow you to break the annual cycle of over-ambition, laziness, and guilt. These single exercises require little or no equipment, no hour-long gym sessions, and no unshakeable motivation.
This year, you’ll actually be able to say you accomplished your resolution.
Here are six options to choose from when making your list:
Rowing: “Everyone should try to work some rowing into their workouts. There are always rowing machines at the gym (usually the Concept 2) or you can even buy a unit for your home,” said Dimitri Sonck, a world class competition winning bodybuilder, previous gym owner and personal trainer, and consultant at Dynamic Fitness Solutions. “Rowing is great because it’s a total body workout. It engages your core, arms and legs with every motion and also doubles as cardio so it burns calories, too. If you don’t have access to a rower, you can also buy some exercise bands; they’re pretty good at simulating the rowing motion.”
Burpee Push-Ups: “It works every muscle in the body developing strength, both muscular and cardiovascular,” said Minna Herskowitz, certified personal trainer, and owner of Sandbox Fitness in Sherman Oaks, CA.
Mountain-Climber Burpee: “Definitely one of my favorite drills, since it has it all in such a short time!” said Tal Siperman-Cohen, personal trainer, Nike trainer, Pilates instructor and owner of Train With Tal. “You’ll use your entire body while performing one drill, unlike isolation exercises where only one muscle group is working. Combining the burpee with Mountain Climbers increases the use of your abdominals, emphasizing your obliques. By doing even one rep you’ll feel your heart racing, so imagine doing 10 in a row. Because of the explosive movement and the use of the entire body, you’ll increase the energy the body needs to perform the drill. In other words: You’ll burn more calories. And thanks to the high intensity, you’ll keep burning much more after you’re done with your workout. Do three sets of 10 and you’re good to go.”
Squats: “Whether you’re a teenager looking to get better at sports or a retiree looking to improve your quality of life, the squat will do all of those things,” said Tom Duer, NSCA-CSCS, CEO of Pittsburgh Fitness Project and Founder of Tom Duer Fitness. “Squatting is used in everyday situations (from getting out of chairs, to using the bathroom, to getting up off the floor), so adding the squat to your fitness routine will ensure you can continue to perform those everyday functions. If performed with proper form, loaded squats (front or back squats with weight) use a ton of muscles and are incredibly taxing on your cardiovascular system. Not only do they have the most bang for your buck in terms of calories burned, but they also help increase testosterone production naturally, which helps you stay lean.”
Plank: “It helps to build a solid core (most people do not have one due to a lot of sitting and bad posture) and stabilize the shoulders (which are affected by injury and bad posture, as well as all the typing we do today),” said Maurice D. Williams, MS, NASM master trainer and owner of Move Well Fitness. “They can be done anywhere, progressed and regressed to fit any population, and can be used in between exercises as either a break or add-on challenge.”
Thrusters: “The movement starts as a squat and ends in a shoulder press,” said Derek Durkin, ACSM certified personal trainer, owner of RISE Fit Academy and Reebok Fitness Ambassador. “It works the entire body, with the primary focus on the legs (largest muscles worked = most calories burned), and since you’re transitioning into a shoulder press you’re transferring all the force from your feet through your legs, your core, and into your back and shoulders. Not only is it working all your muscles, it’s also going to get your heart rate rocking and feel like you’re doing cardio. Start with eight thrusters and one minute to do them. If you finish in less than a minute recover the rest of the minute, and at the start of the next minute do nine thrusters. Continue until you can’t complete a round, and aim to break that next time you try it!”