The Best Exercises to Do at the Gym

by Sapna Pathak

About Sapna Pathak

Sapna Pathak is a certified professional yoga therapist, yoga instructor, diet and nutrition consultant. She is also certified as a prenatal yoga and aerial yoga teacher. A sports writer for the "Boston Globe," Pathak has won numerous awards for her coverage of sports, health, diet and fitness issues. In 2004, she earned bachelor's degrees in journalism and exercise physiology/neurobiology.



Most gyms feature large, expensive equipment, sets of dumbbells and classes for most to achieve their fitness goals. When you are going to the gym, strive to find exercises that work the entire body at once and combine cardiovascular work with strength training. These exercises raise the heart rate and promote even more fat burning and weight loss, according to the textbook “Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance.”

Medicine Ball Push-ups

A more difficult version of the standard push-up, the medicine ball push-up adds a more intense stability challenge for your core. Begin with two medicine balls, gripping each one with your palm. Extend your legs out long and, engaging your core, lift your hips and torso off the ground into full plank position. Perform a full push-up, maintaining your balance the entire time. “Adding in the medicine balls under your hands will immediately fire up your abs each time you push up,” says American College of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer Shelby Young. “Your body is now also further away from the ground, so you have to work harder to bring your chest to the ground and push it back up. If you need to, start on your knees until you’re stronger to go onto the balls of your feet.”

Row Machine

The row machine is designed to give you an intense cardio workout while strength training your upper and lower body simultaneously. Begin in the rower, with your feet tightened in the straps and your hands gripping the handles with an overhand grip. Extend your legs straight, propelling your body backward, and bring the handles close to your chest. Like treadmills and other cardio machines, the rower offers a variety of different workouts from which to choose. “The rower is somewhat underrated because not many people understand its benefits,” says Young. “But it gives you a lot of bang for your buck. You’re getting a great cardio workout and incorporating resistance training for all the muscles of your body at the same time. It really is one of the most effective machines at the gym.”

Bosu Ball Squats

This exercise is one that features standard squats done while balancing on a Bosu ball, found in almost all gyms. Begin with the Bosu ball on the ground, flat-side up and stability-ball side down. Holding a dumbbell in both hands, quickly jump onto the Bosu ball, gaining your balance before squatting. Engage your legs and core to keep your stability, and then bend your knees until they reach 90 degrees, sticking out your tailbone as if sitting into a chair. Using leg strength, return back to standing. “Squats on an unstable surface like the Bosu ball are the perfect way to take a really effective exercise and make it even more intense,” says Young. “All of a sudden, the legs and core are working in a way they’re not used to.”

References (2)

  • Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance; William D. McArdle et al.
  • Shelby Young, ACSM-Certified Athletic Performance Specialist; Hampshire Hills Sports and Fitness Club; Milford, New Hampshire

Photo Credits:

  • Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or