If you work out enough, you’re practically guaranteed a trim, toned, sexy body. But there’s more to being active than aesthetic benefits. Regular exercise prevents weight gain and bone loss, promotes strong muscles and joints, and has been shown to help stave off some chronic illnesses.
And while it’s never too late to get in great shape, you’ll be more likely to look and feel your best if you focus on specific exercises at different stages of your life. The centerpiece of this fitness plan is an efficient multi-muscle resistance routine. Combine that with our cardio prescriptions, bonus moves and guidelines that target your specific needs in your 20s, 30s and 40s, and you’ll look and feel your very best from one year to the next.
Exercise for that killer body
1. leg press Set backrest of leg-press machine to 45 degrees and sit with feet hip-width apart in center of plate, legs straight but not locked, holding support handles [A]. With abdominals tight and weight balanced toward heels, release hand lock and bend knees to 90 degrees, in line with hips, your lower back in a neutral position [B]. Straighten legs without locking them, keeping knees tracking in line with second toes, and repeat. Weight: 45 pounds (no added weight) to 225 pounds (four 45-pound plates). Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks
2. one-arm chest press with ball Sit on a stability ball with a dumbbell in each hand. Walk feet forward and roll down ball until head, neck and upper back are supported on ball, knees bent and aligned over ankles, feet flat. Gently contract abs so spine is in a neutral position and extend arms above chest with palms facing forward [A]. Bend one elbow, lowering dumbbell down and out to side until elbow aligns with shoulder [B]. Straighten arm to return to starting position, and repeat with opposite arm to complete 1 rep. Weight: 5- to 15-pound dumbbells. Strengthens chest, front shoulder, triceps
3. Lunge and press: Standing with legs straight, hold a dumbbell in each hand on shoulders, elbows bent and close to sides, palms in. Step forward with one foot, bending both knees so front knee is aligned over front ankle and back knee points toward floor with back heel lifted [A]. Hold the lunge and extend both arms overhead [B]. Lower arms to shoulders as you push back to starting position. Repeat with opposite leg to complete 1 rep. Weight: 5- to 12-pound dumbbells.
Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks, calves, upper back, shoulders the centerpiece of this plan is a resistance routine that works regardless of your age.
4. Lat pull-down: Attach a long bar to a lat pull-down machine and grasp bar with an overhand grip, hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Sit erect with knees bent and under pads, feet flat on floor. Lean back from hips so bar is in line with collarbone, with arms extended [A]. Draw shoulder blades down, then bend elbows in toward waist to lower bar toward collarbone as you lift chest to meet bar [B]. Straighten arms and repeat. Weight: 30-70 pounds, depending on type of machine. Strengthens middle back, rear shoulder, and some biceps.
5. Bent-over fly: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand with arms at sides, palms in. Bend knees, then flex forward at hips until torso is parallel to floor, arms hanging at sides, elbows in a slight arc, palms in; contract abs [A]. Squeeze shoulder blades down and together, lifting arms up and out to sides to shoulder height [B]. Lower and repeat. Weight: 3- to 8-pound dumbbells. Strengthens upper and middle back, rear shoulders.
6. Smith Squat: Stand in a Smith machine with feet slightly more than hip-width apart, toes and knees turned out to 45 degrees. Hold the bar across your upper back with an overhand grip, hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart, elbows pointing down, and rotate bar to unlock. Contract abs and point tailbone toward floor [A]. Bend knees, keeping them over toes, lowering hips as far as you can without tilting pelvis forward or backward [B]. Straighten legs without locking knees, and repeat. Weight: 0-25 pounds per side, depending on machine. Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks, inner thighs.
7. Ball pull and extend: Lie face down on a stability ball. Walk hands forward on the floor and roll down ball until just shins are on the ball, body forming a straight line from head to heels and wrists aligned under shoulders. Contract abs as you press shins down on ball and bend knees to pull ball in toward chest [shown]. Push with legs to roll ball back to starting position without letting belly sag. Strengthens abdominals and spine extensors, buttocks, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
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