Even the most dedicated gym-bunny gets bored at times, which is why most of us are always looking for new exercises. That’s all good, but we should not overlook the important stuff - effective fitness for every day. That means a strong and stable core, flexible shoulders and trained legs.

Get back to basics with these three effective exercises. Equipment is a mat and either a barbell or two dumbbells.


Core muscles need to be in good condition for everyday functional fitness, as well as supporting your workout programme. Tone them up with this move.  Get into a side plank position, supporting weight on your forearm. Then lower your straight body down and up. Make sure your body remains straight by keeping your abs engaged.


There’s nothing like the tried and tested squat for working legs and abdomen. Add some weight and it is also a great way to build overall strength. For this move, place a barbell or dumbbells across front of shoulders (i.e. in front of neck) which keeps you more upright. This is better for your back and also gives more work to your quads.

Remember to keep elbows high and push up through your heels.

Correct form is absolutely essential for injury-free squats, so check out this list of squat form tips. Remember that the right form does depend on your build and proportions, so it isn’t one-size-fits-all.


This three-step lift does not need much weight to do a lot of good.

Step 1: Begin with feet shoulder width apart, and a barbell held in front of your shins. Keep head up and back straight in a half-squat.

Step 2: Pull the bar quickly up to chest height, spine straight and weight close to your body.

Step 3: Press the bar over your head with straight arms and legs. Keep core tight and push through your heels. Lower under control, in stages, and repeat.


The Author

Patrick Law

Patrick is a keen touch rugby and football player and regular gym goer. He also enjoys long-distance running.


Michael W.
10 January 2019

Michael W.

i actually find the squat by itself without weights pretty good. I used to do 100 every morning - I had legs like iron!

Hugh M.
6 January 2019

Hugh M.

The clean and press is the one exercise I started doing as a teenager and am still doing now, 20 years later, The oldies are often the best.

Nicky B.
6 January 2019

Nicky B.

I'd forgotten about the side plank. - I used to do this a lot when I was younger and I got to the stage I found them easy. Sounds simple, but actually quite tough and effective.

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