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50 Go-To Exercises for Your Gym Routine

livewell360 core bag

It’s easy to walk into a gym like ours and completely be overwhelmed with equipment. To be honest, it would even intimidate me if I was seeing it for the first time. As a result, many members don’t venture out much. They just use what they know – no matter how little that is. So, it’s time to start working out with more purpose, so you can get the best results possible.

In Tuesday’s blog, “How to Set an Effective Workout Schedule” I talk about varies ways to break up body parts so you can design a workout based on your schedule. Well, as promised, today I will be giving you a hit list of exercises you can use in your routine.

First, in this list, I categorize exercises by body part, with the largest muscle groups first. When you are lifting weights, you don’t want to work your small muscle groups before you work your large muscle groups – because your small muscles will be too tired to lift the heavier weight required to work the larger ones. Large muscle groups include chest, back and legs. Small muscle groups typically refer to all your arm muscles.

muscle anatomy

Next, you’ll notice that in each group, I first list one exercise that doesn’t require equipment (if possible). I also list alternative machines or tools to help you find what works with what you have access to. Now realize, there are SOOOO many more, but these 50+ exercises are the most common – and good for starting a beginner to even advanced routine.

If you are doing a full-body workout, you may only choose 2-3 exercises per body part, and only do 2-3 sets of each (depending on your time). If you are working out several times a week, and breaking up body parts more, you may do all the exercises in each specific body group for that day for 3-5 sets to add intensity, and extend the length of your workout.

gymbossLastly, rest time is super important. You can take a very basic workout and majorly boost intensity if you reduce your rest time. We use the GymBoss Interval Timers (set at 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off) at our club so our members are being pushed to work hard and rest little.

So that brings me to reps. You can do 12-15 reps for upper body and 15-20 reps for lower body OR you can use the interval timer to go as hard and fast as possible and not even worry about counting. Just remember, if you could do a few more reps, you likely need to up your weight.

Top 50 Exercises:

OK, so here you go! Here are 50 different exercises mentioned below with some tips to help you design your workout schedule. (PS: It’s actually more than 50 exercises, but TOP 50 sounded better than Top 51. Ha!)

Push Ups
Barbell or dumbbell Bench Press (flat bench)
Incline Dumbbell or Machine Chest Press
Dumbbell Fly (Pec Dec Machine or Cable Crossovers)
Do at least 1 pree & 1 fly

Pull Ups or Assisted Pull Ups
Wide Grip Lat Pull Downs (preferably with wide bar)
Seated Row Machine
Bent Over Row (dumbbells or barbell)
Do at least 1 wide grip & 1 close grip.

Squats (Air Squat or Barbell Squat, hits all muscles)
Leg Press Machine (hits all muscles)
Walking Lunges (dumbbells, quads and glutes)
Leg Extension Machine (hits quads)
Leg Curl Machine (prone/lying, seated and/or standing, hamstrings)
Straight Leg Deadlifts (Dumbbells or Barbells, for hamstrings)
Weighted Calf Raises (or Calf Raise Machine)
Do at least 1 exercise per body part (quads, hams, glutes)

Handstand Push Up or Pike Press
Military Press with Barbell or Shoulder Press Machine
Arnold Presses or Shoulder press with dumbbells
Upright Rows
Lateral Raises
Rear Delt Raise (or Reverse Fly or Reverse Pec Dec Machine)
Do at least 1 press, 1 raise (front or lateral) and the rear raise.

Dips (or Bench Dips)
Tricep Pullovers (with dumbbell or curl bar)
Tricep Press (on cable with bar, V handle or rope)
Tricep Kickbacks
Do at least 2 exercises.

(Equipment needed)
Straight Bar Curl
Preacher Curl or Bicep Curl Macine
Dumbbell Curl
Concentration Curls
Do at least 2 exercises.

Traditional Sit Ups
Weighted Crunches
Bicycle Crunches 
Leg Raises  or Hanging Knee Raise (advanced) for lower abs
Oblique Crunch (sides/obliques)
Choose 2-3 exercises. 

Side Plank
Back Extension  or Ham/Glute Developer Machine
(PS – I don’t like the way this exercises is demonstrated, but it can give you an idea)
Choose at least one.

Remember to read: How to Set an Effective Workout Schedule” for help on scheduling your workout schedule for the week. 

Have fun, train with confidence & #getafterit!

Do You Speak Gym? 37 Fitness Words You Should Know

HELP! My Gym Speaks a Different Language

Joining a gym can be pretty scary. It’s like going to another country. The members can even speak a different language using phrases and words you’ve never heard before. As if just being at a new gym was not intimidating enough, now you have to speak to people and pretend you know what they are talking about?

Well, I’m here to tell ya, if you feel like an illegal alien in your gym, there are only a few words you need to learn before you will feel like a full-fledged gym citizen. Learning some of this gym slang will not only help you feel more comfortable, but it will help you learn how to maximize your workouts. Check it out! And if you have some words you’d like to add, post them in the comments below!


Spot: When someone assists another person with an exercise. ie: “Can you spot me?” or “I need a spotter.”

Rep: Short for repetitions. This is how many times you do a single exercise in a row. i.e.: “I did shoulder presses for 12 reps at that weight”.

Set: 1 Set refers to a group of repetitions done without stopping. i.e.: “Do 3 sets of 15 reps”

Super Set: Refers to a combination of complimentary exercises done back to back in one “super set” with little to no rest. For instance, “I did a super set of shoulder presses and lateral raises”

Circuit: This is a series of different exercises that are performed back to back with little to no rest.

Pyramiding: Doing sets of downward or upward scaling of reps or weight. i.e 4 sets by 12-10-8-6, or 6-8-10-12.

Intervals: Interval training is when you train at a low intensity for a period of time, followed by a high intensity. (I love interval training! I use the GymBoss Interval Timer to boost my workouts)

Tabata: Tabata training is a highly effective style of interval training, doing an exercise for 20 seconds on and 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds, which totals 4 minutes.

HIIT: High-intensity interval training is another form of interval training. The exercise strategy alternates periods of short intense exercise with less-intense recovery periods.

Resistance Training. Any exercise using resistance, like weight or elastic bands.

One Rep Max: The maximum amount of weight one can lift in a single repetition.

Negatives: Negative training is when the muscle lengthens during an exercise, called an eccentric contraction. For instance, on a bicep curl, the negative movement is when you are bringing the weight back down. Concentric contraction is what we think of when we flex our muscle, or shorten the muscle (like the beginning of a bicep curl). The negative movement is believed to be a crucial part of muscle development.

Recovery: Refers to rest between exercises. Short recovery is best for fat burn and conditioning, long recovery is best for power lifting and bulking.

DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. The soreness is felt most strongly 24 to 72 hours after the exercise. To treat DOMS, increases blood flow to the muscle with low-intensity work, massage or hot baths. Increased water and protein can also help repair muscles. Staying still can make it worse.

Failure: When you cannot do one more rep. Reaching failure is believed to to produce muscle growth.

Maximum Heart Rate: 220 – your age. This is used when determining your training zone.

Target Heart Rate: A good target heart rate for vigorous training is 70-85% of your maximum heart rate. For example, for a 40yr old who wants to train at 75%, calculate 220 – 40 X .75 = 135. Or visit the Mayo Clinic’s Target Heart Rate Calculator to get a cool graph.

Selectorized Machines: Also known as universal machines, refers to weight machines where you can easily “select” a weight by inserting a pin in the weight stack. Machines are very safe and effective because they isolate the appropriate body part and leave little room for error.

Bar: A long straight bar (typically 45lbs) used to put plate weights, used traditionally for squatting and bench press.

Curl Bar: The curved bar, known as the EZ Curl or preach curl bar, typically used for bicep curls, can normally weighs 25lbs.

Collar: This is the attachment that secures the plate weights on a barbell or curl bar so the weight doesn’t slip off.

Free Weights: Typically refers to dumbbells & barbells. Free weight exercises require more balance and engage more muscles than working out on machines. Free weights are more challenging to use, but highly recommended and offer a gym goer more versatility.

Cardio: Short for Cardiovascular exercise, normally refers to a fat burning workout on a treadmill, elliptical, bike or aerobic class, although real cardiovascular exercise is designed primarily to work the heart and lungs.


Pecs: Short for pectoral muscles (chest).

Lats: Short for latissimus dorsi (back).

Traps: Short for trapezius muscles, which span across the neck, shoulders and upper back. It’s the muscles you typically think of when you ask someone to rub your shoulders.

Delts: Shoulders. You can work the front, middle and rear delts.

Tris: Triceps (the back part of the upper arm). This is the part women hate to giggle when they wave.

Bis: Biceps (the front part of the upper arm). People often use language like, “bis and tris” for short, when talking about the body parts they trained.

Quads: Quadriceps (front of the thighs).

Hams: Hamstrings (back of the thighs). Also playfully called Hammies.

Glutes: Short for gluteas maximus – a much nicer way to say “butt”.

Core: Refers to your trunk – your low back, mid back, abdominals, obliques and stabilizers.

Ripped: Someone is ripped when they have very low body fat and muscle separation is visible and defined. i.e.: “That guys is ripped!”

Cut: Refers to the sharp lines of definition around muscles. i.e.: “I can see the cuts in your legs” or “she’s really cut”.

Jacked: Refers to a guy or girl who has a lot of muscle (like this guy). i.e.: “That guy is jacked!”

Juice: If you hear someone say they are on “juice” they aren’t talking about juicing fruits and vegetables, they’re talking about steroids.

Pump: This is when your muscle is so full of glycogen and water from training it, it actually will feel like it has been pumped up like a bicycle tire. It will feel tight to the touch and temporarily look swollen (in a good way).

Lean Mass: Refers to the amount of muscle you have.

BMR: Basal Metabolic Rate, which is the amount of calories you burn at rest.

The More You Know, the More You’ll Go!

You don’t have to know all this stuff to get a great workout in. However, in my experience, if you are even the least bit uncomfortable working out in a gym, you won’t go. So, the more you learn, the more confident you will be  – and the more you will go!

‘High Protein’ Foods Exposed

1st blog in this week’s series: “Eating for Success” 
Subscribe to get the rest of this series. 

QUESTION:I want to increase my protein so I can lose fat and gain muscle. What foods besides eggs, peanut butter, chicken, lima beans are high in protein?” Darryl 

ANSWER: Darryl, there’s a difference between a food having protein in it and a food actually being considered a good ‘protein source’. In my opinion, I don’t consider a protein ‘high-protein’ unless it has at least a third of the calories coming from protein.

It’s hard to determine what’s high in protein without looking at all the substrates. There are approximately 4 calories in one gram of protein, 4 calories in one gram of a carbohydrate, 7 calories in a gram of alcohol and 9 calories in a gram of fat. Below are graphs of the foods mentioned so you can visually see the breakdown of each food. Now, let’s see how some of the foods you mentioned weigh in.  Read the rest of this entry

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