When it comes to overall health and wellness, everything is connected, and balance is key.
A proper diet needs to be paired with regular physical activity and one of the most effective approaches is incorporates exercises that work the entire body.
“For overall health and strength of your bones and posture, strength training is the best bet,” said Stephanie Hidalgo, a personal trainer and manager of Echelon Gym in north Bakersfield. “Ninety-nine percent of the general population just wants a leaner figure – to look fit, feel fit and feel better.”
For basic weight loss and to get a leaner frame, Hidalgo said it’s more beneficial to work the entire body as opposed to isolation workouts, which focuses on individual muscles for maximum results. Machines specialize in isolation exercises while bodyweight and free weights engage your whole body.
For beginners, a strong foundation consists of pushups, squats and planks.
Pushups work a wide range of muscles, notably the chest, triceps and core, but also requires your legs to be tight and activated to complete the motion. Squats focus on the lower body. However, proper form requires a straight back and tight core, which benefits the upper body as well, especially when weights are introduced. Planks help with back and core strength while promoting increased stability and better posture from head to toe.
“It’s the most basic thing but it’s the hardest thing to do,” Hidalgo said.
More advanced exercises incorporate plyometrics, adding a considerable cardio element as well as engaging more muscles.
Burpees are a sort of hybrid between a squat and pushup that test your strength and cardiovascular endurance as you start in a standing position, then squat and kick your feet out into a pushup position before tucking your feet in and returning to the starting position.
Jump squats kick the basic squat up a notch as the top of the movement introduces a dynamic jump for a burst of cardio and explosiveness.
Kettlebell swings can help remedy “anterior dominance,” the overuse of muscles on the front side of the body, which is the result of a sedentary lifestyle – sitting for long periods of time, whether it’s at work, in school or at home in front of the TV. Grabbing a kettlebell on the floor between bent knees and feet that are shoulder-width apart, drive the hips forward using the legs to create momentum while straightening the back and lifting the kettlebell up to shoulder height. Return to starting position and repeat.
For best results, Hidalgo recommends exercising three to five times per week.
“Everything is connected,” she said. “We all need to stretch, we all need to work out, we all need to use our breath, we all need to get the proper circulation, we all need to get moving. It’s whatever way makes you feel best when you’re moving.”