04/04/2013 08:12 am ET Updated Apr 05, 2013

The Best Exercises: 5 Moves You Really Need

By Joe Dowdell for Shape.com

"What's the best exercise for my [insert any 'trouble zone' here]?" It's one of the first questions people ask when they find out I'm a fitness professional. It's also one of the most difficult to answer. First, you won't get the results you want from any exercise unless your diet and sleep habits are in check, but further, an accurate answer really depends on four things:

  • What do you really need?
  • What's your goal?
  • What kind of training experience do you have?
  • What kind of equipment do you have access to?

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The Up-Against-The-Wall Workout

The Bottom Line: As much as I would love to fire off a list of the "five best exercises ever created," I can’t definitively do that without leading you astray. There are myriad great exercises, and the best ones for you depend on your answers to the four questions above. What I can do is share what I consider to be the top five big-bang-for-your-buck movement patterns and how you can add them to your routine. I've also outlined the recommended training guidelines (sets, reps, rest) for the goal of fat loss. Click through to check it out!

Training Tip: The weight you choose should allow you to achieve a minimum of 10 reps and a maximum of 12 reps with proper form. If you can do more than 12 reps, you need to increase the resistance. If you are unable to complete 10 reps, you need to lower the resistance slightly.

Essential Exercises For Your Workout