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Yesterday we looked at the first 3 of the 7 and now we are here to finish it up with the other 4 top exercises to sculp and define your physique.  Give me your thoughts at the end.

4. Lunges

Like squats, lunges work all the major muscles of the lower body: gluteals, quadriceps, and hamstrings.   A lunge is a great exercise because it mimics life, it mimics walking. Lunges are a bit more advanced than squats helping to improve your balance as well.

Here’s how to do them right: Take a big step forward, keeping your spine in a neutral position. Bend your front knee to approximately 90 degrees, focusing on keeping weight on the back toes and dropping the knee of your back leg toward the floor.

5. Push-ups

If done correctly, the push-up can strengthen the chest, shoulders, triceps, and even the core trunk muscles, all at one time.   Push-ups can be done at any level of fitness.  For someone who is at a more beginning level, start by pushing from the kitchen-counter height. Then work your way to a desk, a chair, the floor with bent knees, and, finally, the floor on your toes.

Here’s how to do a perfect push-up: From a face-down position, place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Place your toes or knees on the floor, and try to create a perfect diagonal with your body, from the shoulders to the knees or feet. Keep the glutes [rear-end muscles] and abdominals engaged. Then lower and lift your body by bending and straightening your elbows, keeping your torso stable throughout.

6. Abdominal Crunches

Who doesn’t want firm, flat abs? Experts say that when done correctly, the familiar crunch (along with its variations) is a good choice to target them.  For a standard crunch, begin lying on your back with feet flat on the floor and fingertips supporting your head. Press your low back down and begin the exercise by contracting abdominals and peeling first your head (tucking your chin slightly), then your neck, shoulders, and upper back off the floor.

Crunches work the ab muscles; not to be mistaken as exercise that burns the fat over the abdominals,” he says. “That’s the biggest myth in exercise going.”

7. Bent-over Row

Talk about bang for the buck: This exercise works all the major muscles of the upper back, as well as the biceps.

Here’s how to do it with good form. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then bend knees and flex forward at the hips. (If you have trouble doing this exercise standing up, support your weight by sitting on an incline bench, facing backward.) Tilt your pelvis slightly forward, engage the abdominals, and extend your upper spine to add support. Hold dumbbells or barbell beneath the shoulders with hands about shoulder-width apart. Flex your elbows, and lift both hands toward the sides of your body. Pause, then slowly lower hands to the starting position. (Beginners should perform the move without weights.)

Technique

These seven exercises are excellent, efficient choices, the experts say. But with just about any strength or resistance exercise, the question is not so much whether the exercise works as how well you execute.  Done with good technique, all exercises do what they’re supposed to do.  The trouble is that poor form can change the whole exercise, putting emphasis or even strain on different areas than intended. This can hurt, rather than help you.

So especially if you’re a beginner, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of a fitness trainer – whether it’s a personal trainer or a trainer at your gym — to be sure your form is safe and correct.

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Share your thoughts on this topic and let me hear from you.  What kind of exercises are working for you?

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