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Working out individual muscle groups isn’t the way your body functions in real life. Doing bicep curls and leg machines are fine as part of your workout, but the exercises don’t translate to activities you’ll actually do as you go through your day. What’s a better option, though?
Well, “functional” exercises, for one thing. They use more than one joint (which is why they’re also referred to as “compound” exercises), and involve more muscle groups working together at one time. Not only will you work your body more efficiently, but you’ll burn more calories, too.
In short, it’s a win-win.
Here are three fun, total body exercises to try:
Through the leg globetrotters
Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you and a medicine ball (2-5 lbs) in one hand. Lean back slightly and engage your abdominals; alternately lift one leg and then the other in a fluttering motion as you quickly pass the ball under and over each leg, catching the ball with the opposite hand.
Hip hop touch
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and elbows bent with hands up towards your shoulders; quickly do two hops in this stance, pause to touch your left hand to your right foot; hop twice again and touch your right hand to your left foot. Continue alternating two hops with right and left hand toe touches.
Wide jogs with arms
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart; press hands together in front of you with bent elbows and quickly “jog” in place while maintaining tension on your hands (which works the chest).
Do these as part of your warm-up, cardio or on their own as a quick workout two to three times a week.