If you could only do one workout move for the rest of your existence what would it be?
Of course, it's just a hypothetical question -- we all know the best exercise routines are personal recipes of strength, cardio and fun -- but it's an interesting idea. We can all probably name a favorite food, so why not a favorite squat variation or yoga pose? Evaluating your routine, especially if you're stuck in a rut, might help you pare down the (inefficient) time you're spending at the gym.
We asked some of our favorite fitness experts to tell us which moves are their absolute favorites and why. Check out their responses below. Then tell us yours in the comments!
"The clean is my favorite exercise. While it is mainly used by athletes, I believe it is one of the best overall exercises for people of any age. The clean is an Olympic lift that is a total-body exercise with a focus on the posterior chain, the muscles in the back, glutes and hamstrings. These are the muscles that will make any pair of jeans look amazing. This exercise can be performed with dumbbells, kettlebells or a barbell. The clean focuses on explosive power first and foremost, while also building strength and speed. Olympic Lifting, such as the clean, helps build bone density, and will improve performance in almost any sport."
--Collette DeBenedetto, fitness expert, author of "The Intuitive Athlete"
"My favorite workout is burpees. It's the best because it's a combination movement, forcing you to use your entire body, while raising your cardio! Great way to get a cardio and strength-training workout at the same time! Explosive. Start standing straight up, jump, then kick your feet back and bring your hands to the ground simultaneously. Hold your body in a plank position for a few seconds, then jump your feet right back to your hands, lift your hands up and jump again. Whew!! Easy huh?"
--Dolvett Quince, trainer, "The Biggest Loser"
See the full burpee below:
"My absolute favorite exercise I would have to say is Downward Facing Dog. I always say a downward dog a day keeps the doctor away. Downward Facing Dog works the entire body from head to toe. You use your arms and legs to stretch and strengthen the body. Your core is keeping you supported. It's an all-over toner for the entire body, while also lengthening and opening you up. You can do it anywhere and anytime, with or without a mat. I like doing it before or after a run or walk, in the morning, at the end of the day, before strength-training or just as a full-body move. Try holding it for three to five minutes."
--Kristin McGee, celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor
"There are so many to choose from, and sometimes it really depends on the individual and their goal. But if I could pick just one, I'd say the kettlebell swing. Here's a picture of me doing a swing in my kitchen. The beauty of the exercise is you can do it anywhere -- and it burns more calories than sprinting."
--Ben Greenfield, fitness and triathlon expert, Get-Fit Guy podcast host
"Seated meditation is most valuable to me. All the poses are a movement that provide great benefits as long as you are moving with ease, instead of moving tense. Finding a moving meditation is a great way to practice instead of performing poses. Beginning with seated meditation helps my body to relax and my mind to calm and focus and intuition to take the wheel."
--Tara Stiles, founder of Strala Yoga
"If I had to pick one exercise, I'd probably go with a Prowler -- Lower Body Push. I like it because depending on the chosen load, speed of movement and/or the distance to cover, it can be a very demanding exercise from both a strength and conditioning perspective. In addition, there's a very low learning curve, so it can be incorporated into a beginner's program while still offering a tremendous training effect. For those individuals that don't have access to a Prowler, I would suggest hill sprints as an alternative."
--Joe Dowdell, CSCS, personal trainer and strength coach
"For non-[Olympic]-athletes, I'd say the front squat. In the front squat, you carry the bar just above your collarbone, rather than across your upper back. Due to this placement, it's rather hard to have bad squatting technique: if you lean forward, the bar falls to the ground rather than continuing to crush you and hurt your back. Also, the upright posture while squatting targets your core. Lastly, the front squat also works the upper and mid back, while still hitting the legs as well as other squat variations."
--Rob Schwartz, U.S. Olympic Committee strength and conditioning coach
See the full Sprawl below: