While there is no one-size-fits all exercise, experts believe that some exercises are more effective than others whether they help you burn calories more effectively, work several muscle groups at once, or are appropriate for a different fitness levels. WebMD asked four fitness experts to name the best workout routine, and came up with the list below of the most effective exercises.
According to fitness experts, a workout program should include cardio exercises which strengthen the heart as well as burn calories.
Walking is also something you can do anytime, anywhere – and it does not require exercise equipment apart from a decent pair of rubber shoes.
Walking works for people of different fitness levels as well. Beginners can get started on walking, while veterans can get a good workout from it as well.
According to Robert Gotlin, DO, director of orthopaedic and sports rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, "Doing a brisk walk can burn up to 500 calories per hour." To lose one pound, you must burn 3,500 calories. This means that you can lose a pound for every seven hours you walk, even if you do nothing else.
Richard Cotton, a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise recommends starting with a 5-10 minute walk for beginners, gradually going up to 30 minutes per session. Cotton adds that your should avoid adding more than 5 minutes at a time, and that it is better to strengthen your walks before increasing your speed or incline.
Interval training increases your fitness level and helps you lose weight regardless whether you are a beginner or a veteran exerciser, a walker or an aerobic dancer. According to Richard Cotton, "Varying your pace throughout the exercise session stimulates the aerobic system to adapt."The more power the aerobic system has, the more capacity you have to burn calories."
Experts stress the need for strength training. Richard Cotton says, "The more muscular fitness you have, the greater the capacity you have to burn calories." Experts favor strength-training exercises that work several muscle groups. This is why squats are a great example. Squats target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteals.
David Petersen a trainer from, Oldsmar, Fla. says, "They give you the best bang for the buck because they use the most muscle groups at once. " Peterson though, stresses the importance of form. To do a perfect squat, you should keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Bend your knees and lower your butt. Cotton says, "The knee should remain over the ankle as much as possible."
Physical therapist Adam Rufa, of Cicero, N.Y., says practicing with a real chair can help.
"Start by working on getting in and out of a real chair properly," he says. Once you’ve mastered that, try just tapping the chair with your bottom, then coming back up. Then do the same motion without the chair.
Lunges also work the major muscles of the lower body. David Petersen says the lunge is a great workout because "it mimics life, it mimics walking, only exaggerated."
Richard Cotton says that lunges are a bit more advanced than squats in that it also helps improve your balance.
To execute a proper lunge, take a huge step forward, keeping your spine in a neutral position. Bend your knee at a 90 degree angle, concentrating on maintaining your weight on the back toes, and lowering the knee of your back leg towards the floor.
Adam Rufa shares this trick to make the lunge even more functional: instead of just stepping forward, step back, and out to each side as well. Rufa explains that ""Life is not linear, it’s multiplanar." The better an exercise prepares you for various positions you’ll move in throughout the day, the more useful they are.
Just like lunges and squats, push-ups also work multiple muscle groups – chest, shoulders, triceps, and even the core trunk muscles – at once.
Richard Cotton says what’s great about push-ups is that it "can be done at any level of fitness." Cotton suggests doing the following: "For someone who is at a more beginning level, start by pushing from the kitchen-counter height. Then work your way to a desk, a chair, the floor with bent knees, and, finally, the floor on your toes."
To execute a perfect push-up, lie face down on the floor, and then place your hands a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Put your toes or knees on the floor then try to create a perfect diagonal with your body. Keep your glutes and abdominal muscles engaged. Bring your body up and down bending and straightening your elbows, keeping your torso stable the whole time.