The Only 5 Exercises You’ll Ever Need

By on July 6, 2015
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It sounds like a bad infomercial, “Get Ripped Fast!” We’re conditioned to believe that jaw-dropping, body-transforming results are achieved only by putting in hours and hours in the gym. But if you’ve been adhering to the muscle-isolating back-and-bi, chest-and-tri gospel, the truth is, you’re doing it wrong. (here’s why)

Your brain doesn’t think in single ‘muscles,’ it thinks in terms of movement planes and patterns. Human bodies are designed to excel at five basic movements, which encompass nearly all of our everyday motions. Meaning your workout needs just five exercises, one from each of these categories: push (pressing away from you), pull (tugging toward you), hip-hinge (bending from the middle), squat (flexing at the knee), and plank (stabilizing your core).

If you break down just about any of the HASfit workouts, then you’ll see they are designed with this method. Pick one move from each of the categories below. Then choose your set and repetition structure.

Here are some good choices: 2 sets of 12 repetitions, 3 sets of 10 repetitions, 4 sets of 8 repetitions, or 5 sets of 5 repetitions. Learn more about choosing the right sets and repetition combo for your goals here.

Change up the moves but repeat the plan three or four times a week.

PUSH

The Ultimate: Bench Press
Lie face-up on a bench, holding a heavy barbell at your sternum, hands shoulder-width apart, elbows bent into sides. Extend arms, pushing bar directly above chest. Pause, then lower barbell to start.

The Alternates: Push-up, dumbbell shoulder press, single-arm kettlebell press

PULL

The Ultimate: Pull-up
Hang from a bar with palms facing away from you, arms straight, knees bent so feet don’t touch floor. Bend elbows, pulling chest toward bar. Slowly lower yourself to start.

The Alternates: Dumbbell row, inverted row (easier version of pull-up), chin-up, lat pull-down

HIP-HINGE

The Ultimate: Deadlift
Set a heavy barbell on the floor in front of you. Push hips back as you bend forward, grabbing the bar with hands more than shoulder-width apart, palms facing body. Keep back straight as you stand up, lifting the bar and thrusting hips forward. Slowly lower bar to start.

The Alternates: Kettlebell swing, Romanian deadlift, stiff leg deadlift

SQUAT

The Ultimate: Barbell Squat
Stand on your right leg, left foot resting on a bench or box behind you, and hold a heavy dumbbell in each hand. Bend right knee, lowering body until left knee hovers just above the ground. Straighten right leg, returning to start. Complete all the reps on one side before switching legs.

The Alternates: Bulgarian split squat, lunge, front squat

PLANK

The Ultimate: Farmer’s Walk
Stand up straight holding a heavy dumbbell in each hand, palms facing body. Maintain your posture as you walk 20 meters. Turn, repeat, returning to start.

The Alternates: Plank, superman plank, alternating arm and leg raise