The only five exercises you’ll ever need
Sometimes knowing what kind of workouts to do is the hard part. if you want to keep it simple, stick to these tried and tested favourites, writes personal trainer Siobhan Byrne
For me, exercise is a really important part of my day for many reasons. As an experienced trainer, I see clients on a daily basis who have neglected their health over the years, whether to concentrate on family or work life, but what people fail to understand is that a small amount of exercise can make a huge difference to your health and how you feel. I'm often asked what are the best exercises to do. My answer always depends on ability - so if you have neglected your fitness and want to get started to build a new healthier and fitter you, my top exercises would be as follows...
This is one of my ultimate exercises, which has so many benefits - from working legs to back and core, all simultaneously. The thing I love about this exercise is that, as you develop your fitness, the squats can be varied and made more difficult by adding weight or incorporating a plyometric jumping movement to shock the muscle.
The perfect exercise to work the upper body, from your chest and shoulders to even your triceps. If you are a beginner, you may find a standard press-up hard to do, especially if you are a woman, as we naturally have less upper-body strength ability than men. But remember, strength and ability can be developed and I've never had a client who in time cannot complete a press-up. However, one of the reasons this exercise makes my top five is that you can do so many variations of it, depending on your ability. The more parallel your body is to the ground, the harder this exercise will be, so an easier variation is to be on your knees with your back and bottom flat and tummy tucked in. Or, if you find this too difficult, look at a further inclined variation of the press-up where your hands are inclined on a bench/stairs; again, the more of an incline, the easier this exercise will be, so you can vary it as your fitness and strength develop.
This is another one of my all-time favourite exercises and, again, can be changed and varied as you get fitter and stronger by adding weights. The basic lunge helps to work the legs and even some of the core by working calves, quads and glutes.
I, of course, can't leave the core out, and the reason I choose the mountain climber is that, unlike a static plank, this adds in movement - which gives you more bang for your buck. The mountain climber will use many muscles, including core and upper body, such as chest, shoulders and triceps, while the movement forces you to work harder, thus burning extra calories.
Finally, the crunch is a perfect option for an abs exercise. You may wonder why I would choose this particular one over most other well-known abs exercises, such as sit-ups. Well, for many reasons, I have seen so many clients complete sit-ups wrong over the years, allowing other muscle groups to kick in and not effectively hitting the abs area. The crunch controls this a lot more, making it more effective - and maybe not quite foolproof but as close to it as you can get. Also, because there is not as much movement in it, you will be less likely to pull at your neck, causing injury.
So, there you have it - with just 30 minutes of exercise a day, you can easily increase your fitness levels, develop a stronger body and create more energy.