You probably think of walking, running, or jogging when it comes to maintaining a fitness routine. But there are other important exercises that are shortcuts to ensure you're getting the most out of your workout.

Here are five exercises you should be doing more of:


You've probably been told many times how great planks are for you. It looks easy but it really burns when you plank. Do you know why? It's because you're training your core to resist flexing and twisting. The ab and back muscles are all that support the lower spine between your pelvis and rib cage, so your goal should be to make them as firm as possible. Anti-flexion and anti-rotation exercises like planks challenge all-around core stability without the back strain that crunches and sit-ups can cause.

Loaded Squats

Lifting weights has its benefits - it's a way to build muscles, strengthen your bones, and even speed up your metabolism. And because the glute and leg muscles are the largest in the body, adding bulk to your squat is a big way to boost calorie burn (and no, you won't add bulk to your thighs, it's the opposite in fact). The easiest way is to use dumbbells, held in your hands with straight arms by your sides as you squat. Start with 10 pounds per hand, and increase once you can perform 12 reps with ease.

Side Step Ups

Most of our daily movements involve going from back to front (walking, running, going up the stairs) that we forget about training our bodies to move sideways. Working your inner and outer thighs, obliques, and side glutes will round out your strength. You'll also be working those crucial muscles for stability on your feet. Side step-ups get you moving in the right direction, with the added aerobic component for a metabolic boost. But remember to keep your shoulders square and your step light, especially when you land when doing this move.


Pulling exercises like rows strengthen your back to improve posture and balance out the body. You'll also look much sexier in bare backed outfits! The bent-over row uses dumbbells and gravity to target the back. Keep your hips hinged without letting your shoulders hunch, and pull your arms back. Alternate your arms to add in some extra core work, but while keeping your torso square (no twisting).

Reverse Wood Chops

Get the biggest metabolic boost by moving more muscles at once. This is to help you work out in a way that's more functional than you would. Lift a medicine ball, dumbbell, or cable handle from in front of one hip to the opposite shoulder. You're technically mimicking the movement of lifting something from the ground to a high shelf while taxing the muscles in the arms, shoulders, and core.