And honestly, we're not even sure if those exercises are all that effective. The good thing is it's easy to figure out the best moves for your body and switch up your routine—without a personal training certification or advanced degree in kinesiology.
Building your own workout is not only straightforward, but it's also important. "Programming gives you a purpose," says Noam Tamir, owner of TS Fitness in New York City. "Otherwise it's like going on a road trip without a map."
The easiest way to get started is to learn your basic movement patterns. The ones we'll include here are:
- Lower-body push
- Hip hinge
- Single-leg movement
- Vertical push
- Vertical pull
- Horizontal push
- Horizontal pull
Once you get the hang of it, you'll realize there's a near endless number of exercises that fall into these patterns—and that's the beauty of designing your own workout. Sayonara, boredom.
How to use this list: Below we've provided a brief explanation of each movement followed by beginner and advanced exercise examples. Do at least 1 exercise from each section for a well-rounded workout.
How it works: Pick a medium-heavy weight that will fatigue you by about 8 to 10 reps. If you're new to working out, do 2 to 3 sets. More advanced fitness fans can do 4 sets. Don't forget to warm up first (here's a dynamic warm-up you can do before any workout), and cool down and stretch out those tight spots after.
1. Lower-Body Push
This movement targets the lower-body powerhouse muscles plus core (think glutes, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calf muscles). The most well-known example is a squat. We've included two options below, but our list of squat variations has plenty more ideas.
Beginner: Goblet Squat
Advanced: Overhead Squat
2. Hip Hinge
Beginner: Romanian Deadlift With Dumbbells
Advanced: Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift With Dumbbells
3. Single-Leg Movement
This benefits the posterior chain but also engages core and stabilizers since more balance is required. You do this every time you walk, run, or climb stairs. Try our two lunge options below or get more ideas here.
Beginner: Reverse Lunge
Advanced: Lateral Lunge
4. Vertical Push
The upper-body movements below will build strength in a lot of the same major muscle groups. However, like the hip hinge and lower-body push, you'll engage those muscles differently—and it's that variability that makes your workout well rounded.
For the vertical push, you'll use shoulders, upper and middle back, and arms.
Beginner: Half-Kneeling Overhead Press
Advanced: Standing Overhead Press
5. Vertical Pull
Beginner: Single-Arm Resistance Band Pulldown
Advanced: Two-Hand Resistance Band Pulldown
6. Horizontal Push
This movement will help strengthen the front of your body and engage your shoulders, upper back, and arms.
Beginner: Modified Kneeling Push-Up
7. Horizontal Pull
Put your back into it. That's the idea with this movement that will build strength in upper and middle back, plus shoulders and triceps.
Beginner: Single-Arm Bent-Over Row
Advanced: Bent-Over Row
Looking for More?
If you read this and thought: What about plyometrics? What about my abs/butt/biceps? We hear you—and we didn't forget.
Plyometrics fall under a category referred to as power movements, Tamir says. Add them to your workout once you've reached an intermediate level and do them first when you have the most energy. Want to give it a shot? Pick 2 to 3 exercises from our list of 19 explosive movements. Do 5 or 6 reps and repeat for 2 to 3 rounds total.
As for your triceps, biceps, abs, thighs, or calves? Working these muscles individually is often referred to accessory work, Tamir says. Remember these muscles are getting worked in the larger movements described above, but you can add on more specific moves to target them if you have the time.
- For abs exercises, take your pick of these 100+ abs moves anyone can do.
- To give your lower body some TLC, check out these exercises for inner and outer thighs, the best bodyweight butt moves, or a whole lot of lunge variations here.
- Targeting your arms? Find some great upper-body exercises here.
Special thanks to certified trainer and owner of TS Fitness Noam Tamir, who designed these moves and modeled them for us. Tamir wears a shirt and shorts by Lululemon and his own Reebok sneakers. You can follow TS Fitness on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.