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Five Exercises You Must Do

These Five Exercises Are a Must for Any Athlete

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Updated June 03, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

The number of exercises you can add to your training plan are endless. Ideally, you will design a specific workout routine based on your goals and abilities and then change that routine regularly. But if you don't have time to get a complete workout, these five exercises rise to the top of the pile when it comes to getting the biggest bang for your buck. These exercises are arguably the five exercises every athlete must do to stay strong and prevent many common sports injuries.

1. The Plank

The Plank Core Exercise
E. Quinn
The plank exercise is a fabulous core strengthening exercise that engages muscles of the entire body (the back, the arms and shoulders and legs), and in particular the abdominal muscles. The plank can be used as an assessment of core strength as well as a daily core stability exercise.

2. The Side Plank

Side Plank Exercise
E. Quinn
Along with the standard plank exercise, I'm a huge fan of the side plank. The side plank targets all the muscles that get missed during the plank, namely the hip and knee stabilizers.

3. Walking Overhead Lunges

Walking Overhead Lunges
Photo (c) Cameron Spencer / Getty Images
Walking lunges work the majority of the muscles in your body in a combination of isolated lower body movements the build strength, stability, balance and power. When you add an over head weight to the movement, you create an advanced exercise that targets the entire body, including the upper body and core. This exercise should be started without the weight. Try adding a light bar or 5 pound hand weights in the beginning. Over time you can add heavy weights as long as you maintain good form during the exercise.

4. Push Ups

Push Up Exercise
E. Quinn

If you can only do one exercise for your upper body, the lowly push up is the one to do. You don't need space or much time to feel the burn in your muscles.

5. Interval Training Workouts

Stair running workout
Photo (c) Inti St. Clair / Getty Images
The first four exercises target muscular strength and stability, but no workout routine is complete without a bit of quality cardiovascular exercise. Building your cardiovascular system (heart and lungs) with interval training workouts is one of the fastest ways to increase endurance and offers an endless number of workout routines. Any muscle groups that are missed during the plank, lunges and push ups are going to be worked during any of the most popular interval workouts.
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