What’s the “Best” Exercise

Sharon Rekieta, Fitness and Wellness Director - 25th April 2014

The search for the “best” exercise is a common quest for workout enthusiasts and experts in the field.  And for those of us working in the fitness realm, it’s also a common question we hear in the form of: what is the “best” exercise for sculpting the lower body, tightening the abdomen or defining the arms?

The answer depends on your level of conditioning and exercise experience as there are options that would be more appropriate for the “not yet” conditioned or beginner and other choices that would be better for the more advanced fitness fiend.

For example, suppose we wanted the “best” exercise for sculpting the lower body.  Most would agree that the squat is a good place to start as this very basic and very effective move involves the major muscles in the hips, glutes and thighs.  And, there are various ways to make a squat easier or more challenging.

For beginners, the “Seated Leg Press” machine would be a very safe option.  You are seated and up against a back support so you don’t have to balance or stabilize your body.  And since the weights are within the machine, you also don’t have to worry about holding something in your hands or positioning a bar across your shoulders.  All you need to focus on is engaging your hip and thigh muscles while pushing your feet against a platform to move your body into a squat position.

For those who have been working out for a while and wanting to take their squat to the next level, I would suggest using the “Smith Machine.”  Since you are in a standing position, your core muscles and spine stabilizers will be working and that requires more concentration and effort to maintain proper form.  However, you will still have some help from the machine.  Since the bar is within a channel, you don’t have to worry about holding hand weights or a balancing a bar.  

The more advanced exerciser will definitely want to perform a freestanding squat, as the move will be all you with no assistance from a machine!  Your core muscles will tighten to protect your back; your spine stabilizers will engage to help with balance and support; and your hip and thigh muscles will be forced to work harder to maintain control.

Whether you are a beginner just starting a workout program or a workout enthusiast who has followed a routine for decades, you might benefit with guidance from a personal trainer or certified instructor to find the “best” exercises for you!