Let’s face it, nowadays most of us are short on time. Not only that, not having enough time to work out is probably the number one excuse as to why people don’t workout. What if I told you that you can have a tight athletic body with just 4 exercises? It’s true, it can be done in only four exercises, perfect for those who don’t have time to work out.
I know some of you are there are probably thinking “yeah right, no way you can get a strong, athletic body using only four exercises”. But you can! There is a myth out there mostly put forward by the fitness magazines and such that have pro bodybuilder routines where they are doing 4 or 5 sets of 4 exercises per body part. Unless you have plans to be a pro bodybuilder these routines are totally worthless for you. The problem with these routines is that most people do not have near enough time to do all these exercises and not all of us want to look like that. Not to mention most pro bodybuilders are on PED’s which allow them to handle a heavier workload than your average person.
We won’t be doing calf raises or bicep curls or lateral raises in here since they only use one muscle group each. If you are going to work your whole body in just 4 exercises you are going to need to work several muscle groups with each exercise. Not only that, if you want to look like an athlete you need to train like one and athlete training focuses on compound exercises like these. Now that we have all that out of the way lets get to the exercises.
This will probably come as a surprise to no one. Squats are the king of lower body exercises and quite possibly the king of all exercises. The squats will work your quads, butt, hamstrings, calves and even the abs and the erector spinae in the back. If you are a girl wanting strong toned legs and a tight, round butt or a guy who wants powerful, athletic legs then squats would be your answer. Be sure to go to down low enough that your upper legs are parallel to the floor to get the full effect of this great exercise.
- There are many forms of squats out there with the back squat being the most common. Mixing in a the front squat as well is a good idea. It incorporates more of your core muscles to stabilize the weight and hits a little more of the quads than the back squat. Most people also find it easier to go deeper with the front squat.
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We now move from the king of lower body exercises to the king of the upper body exercises, perhaps you are noticing a trend here. The bench press will work mainly the chest, shoulders and triceps. The abs are also involved in balancing and stabilizing the weight. I will now perform a public service announcement and mention that the bench press is not only for men and that women will not become she-hulks from doing the bench press, you may now proceed to the nearest bench.
- Using the incline bench press will hit more of the upper chest and shoulders.
- Moving from a wide grip to a narrow grip on the bar will really work the triceps.
- Using dumbbells instead of a barbell will cause you to use a different range of motion and hit the chest differently. Mixing it up with both barbell and dumbbell bench press is preferred.
Pull ups are another great exercise to get you an athletic body. They work the entire back, biceps, shoulders, and the entire core. Pull ups will also help widen the back and help the waist appear smaller.
Most gyms have a pull up assist machines for those of you who are unable to do a pull up on their own. Use that machine until you get to the point where you can do them without it. Pull up bands are also a good tool for those who can not yet do a pull up.
- Vary your hand grip from wide to narrow, wider hand grip will target the lats while a narrow grip will make the biceps work harder.
- Mix in chin ups (palms facing you) as well. Chin ups will really help get a good bicep workout along with the back.
- Behind the neck pull ups are a good way to target the traps and rhomboids, work these in from time to time.
We have targeted the legs with our first exercise and then the upper body with the next two. With cleans we will be targeting the entire body. Cleans are easily one of the best whole body exercises. Cleans are a total body exercise that use your quads, calves, hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, deltoids, traps, and forearms, as well as the core muscles that come into play to stabilize your spine throughout the movement. It also helps with explosion, balance and coordination. Most any sport that requires strength and explosiveness will be doing cleans.
- Squats will train the legs and core. Mix in front squats along with back squats.
- Bench press works the chest, triceps and shoulders. Close grip bench puts extra emphasis on the triceps.
- Pull ups hit the back, biceps and shoulders. Mixing in chin ups puts extra emphasis on the biceps.
- Cleans are a whole body exercise that also involve explosiveness, coordination and balance.
There you have it, we have worked the entire body with only four exercises. Since it is only four exercises you really have no excuse not to find time and get it done. Try to hit up each exercise twice a week for 4-5 sets and vary the rep ranges from 4-20 reps. If you get to a point where you can do all 4 of these exercises well, have a solid diet and mix in some HIIT Cardio you will be a lean, mean, athletic machine!