Heading to the gym can be an excruciating experience for newbies, and workout programs can be intimidating with their many move sets and equipment requirements. But that shouldn’t be an excuse not to work out – you can still push your body without all the bells and whistles. So stop making excuses and start sweating. We asked personal trainer and physical specimen Lonan O’Herlihy to show us three simple moves that will build strength and get you fit anywhere, anytime.
THE AUGMENTED PUSH-UP
One-minute bursts with as many push-ups as possible. One-minute rest. Three sets.
It’s the veteran go-to move for most workouts, and with good reason. Not only is it impressive when you rattle off 20-plus, the exercise works out your chest, shoulders and core. Here, O’Herlihy remixes the move by adding a tap movement at the top of the push-up. “The reason I put the weight [in front of me] is to get some balance involved and exaggerate the effort on core. When you're leaning forward with one hand, there's more stress on the opposite shoulder, helping to tighten the muscles.”
THE WEIGHTED LUNGE
One-minute bursts with as many lunges as possible. One-minute rest. Three sets. Add weight for more challenge.
This variation of the standard squat allows you to get stronger, quicker, because it’s an isolation exercise and focuses on one leg at a time. “Targeting one muscle at a time means you're exerting more pressure on the muscle, which in the long run is better for the muscle surrounding the joints, helping it get stronger and tighter,” says O’Herlihy. It’s a small but important differentiation from doing a two-legged squat, where you have the luxury of using other muscles help you do the move. “When you get tired, you start to bring your back in, your shoulders and they start to over compensate as your legs get tired. But when you’re doing one leg, when it gets tiring you have to stop because you have no other muscles supporting you.”
Hold the position for one minute. Rest one minute. Three sets.
If you hate sit-ups, this is the move for you. With this exercise, you can work your core without sacrificing back strength. “Plank is good because it involves the whole core and the lower back. A lot of people do ab exercises that stay up in front, but your back gets weaker and you start to get back problems, which is what you want to avoid above all else when you're doing core,” O’Herlihy explains.
While it might not seem like much, plank allows you to really increase strength throughout your whole body without putting too much stress on it. “There’s stability in the shoulder joint, so you're not putting too much pressure in one specific area. By having both elbows down, and using core, it is really a full body exercise.”