10 Best Exercises for Everyone

Young man exercising in his living room at home.

There are countless ways to improve your fitness — so many that it can be a little overwhelming. If you’re looking to create a workout routine, it’s best to start with a small number of basic exercises. Below are 10 that will help you increase your strength and improve your flexibility. Before long, you’ll have a good foundation for bringing other exercises into your routine if you choose to.   

1. Planks

Planks target your abdominal muscles but give other muscles in your arms and legs a good workout.

  1. Start with your hands on the floor, your arms extended, and your knees and toes on the floor.
  2. Tuck your chin slightly and look at the ground just in front of your hands.
  3. Straighten your legs so your knees come off the floor and your body is in a straight line from the back of your head to the back of your heels.
  4. Hold the position for 30 seconds before bringing your knees back to the floor. 
  5. Complete 2-3 sets of as many 30-second holds as you can.

2. Lunges

Lunges strengthen your legs and glutes, stretching the muscles at the same time.

  1. Stand with your arms at your side and your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Step forward with your right foot, bending your right knee as you do. Step far enough forward that your right knee doesn’t go past your right foot before your right thigh is parallel to the ground.
  3. Straighten your right leg to return to the starting position. Complete the same actions with your left leg. This is one repetition (or “rep”).
  4. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

3. Pushups

Pushups involve multiple muscle groups and are a highly effective strengthening exercise.

  1. Start in the plank position with your back straight, legs extended, toes on the floor, arms extended, and hands flat on the floor below your shoulders. 
  2. Bend your elbows to lower your body until your chest touches the floor.
  3. Extend your arms, pushing your body up off the floor, until your elbows lock.
  4. Do 3 sets of as many reps as you can. If you aren’t able to do a standard pushup, you can leave your knees on the floor rather than your toes. 

4. Squats

Squats are a great way to strengthen your core and lower body. And because you’re using large muscles, they burn lots of calories. Squats are a great way to strengthen your core and lower body. And because you’re using large muscles, they burn lots of calories. 

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders and your arms at your side. 
  2. Keeping your chin up, bend your knees and move your hips backward like you’re going to sit in a chair. Bring your hands together in front of you near your chest.
  3. Continue lowering your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold for one second and then return to the starting position. 
  4. Do 3 sets of 20 reps. 

5. Overhead dumbbell presses

Using two 10-pound dumbbells, this exercise engages muscles in your shoulders, upper back, and core. 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Position your arms so that your upper arms are in line with your shoulders, your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle, and the weights are at head level.
  2. While engaging your core, push the weights up until your arms are fully extended. 
  3. Pause, lower your arms until your upper arms are in line with your shoulders again, and repeat.
  4. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

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6. Single-leg deadlifts

Using one 10-pound dumbbell, this exercise improves leg strength and balance. 

  1. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand with your knees bent slightly. 
  2. Rotate your upper body forward at the hips, lifting your left leg straight back behind you and moving the dumbbell toward the floor.
  3. Continue raising your leg until it is parallel with the floor or to whatever height you’re comfortable with. Then, slowly lower your leg while lifting the dumbbell and returning to the starting position. 
  4. Do 10 reps lifting your left leg, switch the weight to your left hand, and do 10 reps lifting your right leg. 

7. Dumbbell rows

This exercise uses two 10-pound dumbbells and strengthens multiple upper-body muscles. 

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Position your body at a 45-degree angle to the ground by bending forward at the waist. Make sure your core is engaged and that your neck is in line with your back. Let your arms hang down. 
  3. Pull the weight in your right arm up near your chest. Return to the starting position and do the same thing with your left arm. This is one rep. 
  4. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

8. Side planks

Side planks help strengthen your core.

  1. Start on the floor lying on your right side with your legs straight and together, and your left foot stacked on top of your right. Prop up your upper body by putting your right elbow under your right shoulder and your forearm flat on the floor.
  2. Lift your hips and knees off the ground to make a straight line with your body.
  3. Lower your hips back to the floor and repeat.
  4. Do 3 sets of 10 on each side. 

9. Glute bridge

This exercise strengthens your glutes. 

  1. Lie on your back on the floor with your feet flat on the floor, your knees bent, and your arms at your side, palms down. 
  2. Push down on your heels to raise your hips off the ground while keeping your shoulders and upper back in contact with the floor. 
  3. Hold for a second or two at the top of your lift, then lower your hips back to the floor. 
  4. Do 3 sets of 10 reps. 

10. Burpees

Burpees strengthen multiple muscle groups and also provide a great cardiovascular workout. 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  2. Put your hands out in front of you and squat down. When your hands touch the ground, shoot your legs out behind you into the pushup position. 
  3. Pull your feet up near your hands in one motion, stand up straight, and jump. This is one rep. 
  4. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Get Started with a Fitness Routine Today

It may take a little time to learn these exercises and get comfortable doing them. But once you do, you’ll find your fitness improving steadily as you add more reps and sets. Before starting any new exercise or fitness routine, talk with your doctor about what’s safe for you. You can learn more about Baptist Health’s weight management program, or find a provider near you online.


Next Steps and Useful Resources:

Find a Provider Near You
Take a Free Healthy Weight Online Health Risk Assessment
From Punishment to Privilege: Changing Your Fitness Outlook
Just One Thing: 10-Minute Fitness
Home Exercises for Weight Loss
Recovering from COVID-19? Here Are 5 At-Home Exercises That Can Help.

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