Six Essential Exercises for Maximum Fitness

Six Essential Exercises for Maximum Fitness

Popular San Francisco-based personal trainer, Thomas Stracke stopped by Sun Basket HQ recently to coach us in some basic exercises. According to Stracke, good form is key to any workout. Body alignment and strong technique not only help prevent injuries but also ensure that you get most out of your workout. Here are a few of Stracke’s favorite exercises for maximum fitness. Stracke recommends two sets of each exercise, performing 20 to 30 repetitions of each move or for 60 to 90 seconds each. 

Bicycle crunch
This challenging variation on a sit up engages three major core muscle groups to build overall abdominal strength. 

Lie flat on the floor with the lower back pressed into the ground.
Place hands lightly on either side of your head, tuck your chin into your chest. Do not lock your fingers or pull your head up.
Lift both knees to a 45 degree angle.
Bring knees towards your chest, lifting your shoulder blades off the ground.
Turn your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow towards the left knee, making sure to turn from the rib cage.
Repeat on the opposite side.  

Burpee
The ultimate full body exercise, burpees work every major muscle group and give you a cardio workout as well. 

Stand straight, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Squat back as if you were sitting on a very low stool, making sure that your knees are aligned over your ankles and not pushing out over your toes. 
Thrust your legs back to a pushup position, then lower your chest to the floor and push back up.
Return to a squat position and jump. 
Repeat.  

Mountain climbers
Every major muscle group gets its due with mountain climbers. You’ll build muscle and get your heart pumping while challenging your balance and coordination, too. 

Get into a high plank position, with your hands firmly on the ground, directly under your shoulders. Keep your abs tight. 
Move one knee to opposite elbow and repeat with the other knee to its opposite elbow. 

Reverse Lunge 
An excellent exercise for lower body strength and toning, reverse lunges also target the glutes and quads. 

Step one leg back, lowering your hips until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
Put your arms straight up and make sure the front knee is directly above ankle.
Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position.

Push up
Often mistaken for an arm exercise, a properly done push-up works your chest and core muscles.  

Get into a high plank position, with your hands firmly on the ground, directly under your shoulders. Keep your abs tight.
Keeping your back flat and eyes focused about three feet in front of you to keep your neck neutral, lower your chest to the floor and then push yourself back up.  

Squats
The only movement that trains your glutes, hamstrings, adductors, lower back, and quads, squats deliver a lot of bang for the buck.  

Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your weight on the heels.  
Keep your chest and chin up.
Squat back as if you were sitting on a very low stool, making sure that your knees are aligned over your ankles and not pushing out over your toes.