In my opinion, go with the old saying, ‘don’t trust everything you read’. Always have a look as to where the advice has come from. If it is an author, have a look at their credentials. If it is a website, ensure that the information is coming from a credible body or organisation. Lastly, if it is a paper, make sure it is peer-reviewed!
The truth is, there is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution. There can never be a perfect black and white answer to health and fitness. In saying this, I am going to offer my understanding to what can be a bit of a grey subject, with my top 7 most effective exercises for overall strength, health, injury reduction and pain relief.
2) Dumbell front squat
3) Push up
4) Bent over row
5) Pull up / Lat pulldown
6) Cable / Dumbell lateral raise
7) Overhead barbell press
NOTE: You should be coached on all of these exercised before attempting them.
I have chosen the above movements for a few reasons. The first; I like to eat — a lot. The great thing about these exercises is they use a lot of muscles, require a lot of energy to do, and thus burn a ton of calories. Anything that can keep me eating more and my waistline down gets the thumbs up!
Secondly, these movements produce weight-bearing load through your body. This is beneficial for many reasons, two of which are outlined below:
Lastly, recent studies have shown support for generalised exercises, as opposed to precise exercises, for improving mobility and reducing pain within some joints. These more generalised movements, in conjunction with physio-identified specific rehab exercises (if needed), have been shown to be very effective regarding strength gains, general function and reduction in pain.
In summary, simple can be better. Don’t get sucked into doing extremely complex, minimalistic movements over larger, more robust movements.
So, there you have it! My personal opinion on the 7 most bang for your buck exercises that will provide the most benefit for the least effort.
That said, I need to reiterate again that exercise does not have a ‘one size fits all’ solution. There will be people who thrive from all types of different exercises and physical activity modalities. However, if you are confident in the gym, have little time, and love eating a little too much, these could be suitable for you!