4 Exercises You Need NOW to Melt Fat & Sculpt Muscle

If you find yourself short on time with BIG fitness goals (like many of us do) then you already know how important it is to maximize your training time to get the results you want.

Clients and friends often ask what the best exercise is for transforming their bodies without a lot of equipment… at Early to Rise, this is our specialty!

There are four exercises I continually advocate because they have stood the test of time — through fitness trends of all kinds they remain the foundation of the best fitness programs that get the best results.

The 4 BEST Bodyweight Exercises for Melting Fat & Sculpting Muscles (videos below):

  1. Squats work the largest muscles in the body, the thighs, stimulating quick gains in muscle growth and strength. Plus, squats provide systemic metabolic stimulation that seems to encourage even upper-body muscle growth. Squat.Lunge.2
  1. Push-ups have been a staple in military fitness, martial arts, and just about every other type of exercise program that’s ever existed. They are one of the most effective ways to not only increase upper body strength but total body fitness since every muscle in the body, including muscles of the shoulders, back, legs, and core, must be engaged to perform a proper push-up. military-a-b
  2. Lunges offer skillful and powerful sport-specific movements in multiple directions to target a greater number of muscles. Lunges primarily target the quadriceps but more emphasis is easily placed on the glutes, adductors, and abductors by integrating directional or stride length changes. Plus, all lunge variations require greater stabilization and balance, which engages the small stabilizers of the pelvis, core, torso, and lower back. Dead.Lunge.4
  3. Pull-ups are the most challenging exercise but they build muscle and shred fat, sculpting the upper body fast. As a functional movement, they require the physical strength to move your own body rather than moving an object, like a dumbbell. This translates into a total body metabolic experience, with surprisingly intense core activation.

Many of my clients transform their bodies and fitness by incorporating these 4 exercises as the foundation of their programming.

Plus, they are astounded at how theses bodyweight moves help them achieve “6-pack abs” without doing thousands of crunches!

Ok, so you know what exercises are the best but do you know why?

Answering this question gives you the power to accelerate your fitness without wasting your time.

The 5 Components of the Best Bodyweight Exercises:

  1. They can be done anywhere. Accessibility is a key component to these movements – each of them requires only bodyweight with the exception of pull ups which is easily solved by working out at a gym, installing a pull up bar at home, or jogging to your local park to hop on the monkey bars. TRX is also a great way to begin building pull up strength.
  2. They offer a compound exercise. Each of these movements require engagement of multiple muscle groups, including the core, creating more effective training while triggering the release of growth hormone that stimulates muscle tissue growth and supports the fat burning process.
  3. Their intensity can be easily adapted. Numerous progressions and regressions make it easy to customize training intensity to align with your individual fitness level.  Proper form execution allows for effective training that builds strength and stamina while reducing risk of injuries.
  4. Variations of these exercises are plentiful. Variety equals results. The more you can switch things up the more your body is challenged to perform. You (and your body) avoid boredom and the dreaded training plateau by incorporating alternate versions of each exercise into your programming.
  5. Each exercise sculpts muscles and melts fat. All of these exercises require balance, coordination, power and control. Their intensity increases heart rate, boosts metabolism, and provides the perfect platform for burning fat while building muscle.

Ready to transform your body? Click below for my quick, Fat Melting, Muscle Building, “Best Bodyweight Exercise” Circuits (beginner, intermediate, or advanced). 

Best Bodyweight Workouts (Scroll past videos for form cues and exercise descriptions):

Beginner: 45:15, 1-3 times through

•Zombie squats

•Kneeling push-up

•Alternating reverse lunges

•Wide-grip pull-ups with Monster Band assist

Intermediate: 45:15, 1-3 times through

 

•Prisoner squat

•Push-up

•Alternating forward lunges

•Neutral-grip pull-up negatives 1 count up : 4 counts down

Advanced: 45:15, 1-3 times through

•Squat jumps

•Push-up with 3-way knee drives: middle, cross body, spiderman

•Alternating reverse lunge and pulse

•Reverse-grip pull-ups

Exercise Form Cues:

*Athletic Stance: Feet hip-width apart or closer. Ball of foot is connected to the ground but emphasis on weight in heels. Slight bend in knees with legs and glutes toned. Lift from the waist to become tall through the spine while contracting or bracing the core. Set shoulder blades together and down, with chest open. Remain lifted through the crown of the head with chin parallel to the floor.

Zombie squats

  • Begin standing with feet hip-width apart, weight evenly distributed, arms extended straight out from shoulders and fully engaged.
  • Push hips back first, then bend knees into a squat with weight shifted into heels.
  • Keep chest lifted, core tight, and arms extended throughout the squat.
  • Drive through the heels and engage glutes to return to standing.

Kneeling push-up

  • Begin in a ½ plank with knees on mat, hands set just outside shoulders, and chest lengthening forward.
  • Brace abs as you bend elbows (angled back ~45 degrees) lowering torso toward mat.
  • Only go as low as you can maintain spinal alignment: no dipping chin, arching back or hip wobbles.
  • Press back up to starting position.

Alternating reverse lunges

  • Being standing in an athletic stance.*
  • Step one leg back onto ball of foot and drop knee toward floor.
  • Keep weight shifted onto front leg, specifically driving up through the heel and glutes of that front leg as you return to standing. Switch sides.
  • Alternate legs lunging and repeat for the designated time.

Wide-grip pull-ups with Monster Band assist

  • Use a Monster band, bench or other device to assist you with proper form and weight.
  • Grab the bar with palms facing forward and hands set wider than shoulders.
  • Draw shoulder blades down and together to begin.
  • Pull body up until chin reaches above bar — elbows draw down toward waistline. Engage abs.
  • Lower with control and fully extend arms. Repeat for designated time.

Prisoner squat

  • Begin standing with feet hip width apart, weight evenly distributed. Prisoner arms have hands set behind head, elbows open, and back muscles engaged.
  • Push hips back first then bend knees into a squat with weight shifted into heels
  • Keep chest lifted, core tight, and arms in Prisoner throughout the squat
  • Drive through the heels and engage glutes to return to standing

Push-up

  • Begin in high plank with hands set outside shoulders, chest lengthening forward and legs engaged.
  • Brace abs as you bend elbows (angled back ~45 degrees) lowering torso toward mat.
  • Only go as low as you can maintain spinal alignment: no dipping chin, arching back or hip wobbles.
  • Press back up to starting position.

Alternating forward lunges

  • Being standing in an athletic stance.*
  • Step forward and drop back knee toward floor.
  • Keep weight shifted onto front leg, specifically driving up through the heel and glutes of that front leg as you return to standing. Switch sides.
  • Alternate legs lunging and Repeat for the designated time.

Neutral-grip pull-up negatives 1 count up : 4 counts down

  • Use a Monster band, bench or other device to assist you with proper form and weight.
  • Grab the bar with palms facing each other and hands set shoulder-width apart.
  • Draw shoulder blades down and together to begin.
  • Pull body up until chin reaches above bar — elbows draw down toward waistline. Engage abs.
  • Lower with for 4 counts until arms fully extend. Repeat for designated time.

Squat jumps

  • Begin in an athletic stance* with feet hip width apart.
  • Press hips back and sit into a squat then drive up through legs to jump off the ground. Land softly, dropping right back into the squat.
  • Repeat for the designated time.

Push-up with 3-way knee drives: middle, cross body, Spiderman

  • Begin in high plank with hands set wider than shoulders and torso in a straight line. Engage quads and core to stay buoyant.
  • Perform a push-up. At the top, drive one knee up toward chest.
  • Repeat the push-up and drive other knee to chest.
  • Repeat push-up this time driving the knee toward the opposite elbow. Repeat on the other side.
  • Finally, perform a push-up with a knee drive to the same elbow. Repeat on the other side then start again with knee drives toward the chest.

Alternating reverse lunge and pulse

  • Begin in an athletic stance.
  • Step one leg back onto ball of foot and drop knee toward floor.
  • Keep weight shifted onto front leg, specifically driving up through the heel and glutes of that front leg — repeat one split squat (or pulse) before returning to standing. Switch sides.
  • Alternate legs lunging and repeat for the designated time.

Reverse-grip pull-ups

  • Use a Monster band, bench or other device to assist you with proper form and weight.
  • Grab the bar with palms facing you and hands set shoulder-width apart.
  • Draw shoulder blades down and together to begin.
  • Pull body up until chin reaches above bar — elbows draw down toward waistline. Engage abs.
  • Lower with control and fully extend arms. Repeat for designated time.
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