In order to get the lean body that you desire, you have to incorporate strength training into your fitness routine. Lifting weights builds muscle, increases your metabolism, and burns more fat than traditional cardio workouts. After all, one of the biggest fitness myths that’s still out there is that cardio leans you out and gets you toned while weights get you big and bulky. When combined, these moves target every major muscle group to sculpt lean and toned definition all over.
But, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, if you don’t strength train, then you won’t be able to build any muscle, and that’s what gives you the muscle definition and toning you’re aiming for all over.
Luckily, there are many effective strength-training exercises that you can add to your usual workout program in order to see results. However, there are four fundamental movements that are crucial for getting a well-rounded, full-body strength session: Hinge, squat, push, and pull. These are the best bang-for-your-buck movements because they incorporate multiple muscle groups at a time and burn more calories compared to other single-joint exercises that only work one muscle group at a time (such as curls or triceps extensions).
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With this in mind, here are four exercises that you can start adding to your strength-training routine now in order to achieve a lean and strong body for good. Shoot for 3-4 sets total of all of these moves. And if you’re down for more, check out this 15-Minute Workout Routine That Can Add Years to Your Life.
Stand with a weight (a kettlebell or dumbbell works well for this) in front of you on the floor with your feet shoulder-width apart. Push your hips back and squat down low enough to grab the weight, making sure your shoulders are in line with the handle and that your torso is straight when you get into position. Keeping your core tight and shoulders down, pick up the kettlebell by pushing through your heels and hips to stand up tall, squeezing your glutes at the top. Reverse the motion to put the weight back down before performing another rep. Do 10 reps.
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Dumbbell Goblet Squat
Begin by holding one dumbbell in a vertical fashion in front of your chest. Keeping your core tight, push your hips back and squat down until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Drive through your heels and hips to stand back up, flexing your quads and glutes to finish. Do 10 reps.
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
Lie flat on an incline bench and grab a pair of dumbbells. Hold them straight up above you with your arms fully extended. Pull your shoulder blades back and down into the bench as you lower the weights down toward your chest. Get a good chest stretch, then press the weights back up to the starting position, squeezing your pecs and triceps at the top. Do 8-10 reps.
Position yourself parallel to a bench so one hand and knee are firmly planted on the surface for balance. Grip a dumbbell with your opposite hand, your arm extended straight down toward the floor. Then, begin the motion by pulling the dumbbell up towards your hip, squeezing your lats and upper back at the very end of the movement. Straighten your arm back down and get a nice stretch at the bottom before performing the next rep. Do 8-10 reps on each arm.
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For more on the benefits of strength training regularly, check out Secret Effects of Lifting Weights Just Once Per Week, Science Says.