While no one exercise can work out every single muscle in the body, adding exercises that work out multiple muscle groups to your workout routine makes your time in the gym more productive and efficient. By making your workout more efficient, you can spend less time in the gym and more time recovering between workouts. As with all exercise routines, it's important to follow strict form to prevent injury. Have someone experienced in the movement watch your form or consult a professional exercise coach. Complete these five basic exercises and, although you won't literally have worked out the more than 600 muscles in your body, you will have gotten a thorough workout targeting the major muscle groups.
According to the website Swim to Slim, swimming is a great, low-impact way to work out almost all of your major muscle groups. Your entire core, upper body, front trunk, back trunk, lower trunk and lower limbs are exercised during a swimming workout. Major muscles worked include the hands, forearms, shoulders, triceps, neck, chest, side, abdomen, back, spinal cord support, groin, upper legs, hamstrings, calves, shins and feet. A common stroke in swimming that will give you a great workout is the front crawl, or freestyle, which is done with your face in the water and your arms stretched out in front of you. Alternate your arm and leg movements while twisting your torso as you move through the water.
The deadlift is a weightlifting exercise done with an Olympic bar. Stand facing the bar with your thighs parallel to the ground and your back straight. Pull the bar upward as you stand up, contracting your shoulder blades. Driving the weight upward with your entire lower body works out multiple muscle groups including your lower back, hamstrings, calves and gluteus. Because the movement is done with weights, have an expert instruct and supervise you at first.
Simple to do and requiring no equipment, the pushup can be done anywhere. Start by lying face down on the floor in a plank-like position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Straighten your arms by pushing on the floor. Keep your back straight throughout the movement to support your torso and engage your core. The pushup works out a variety of muscles including the biceps, triceps, chest, abdomen and shoulders.
Squats are versatile in that they can be done with or without weights and with or without an Olympic bar. When done correctly, they work out the quadriceps, hamstrings lower back, calves, abdomen and gluteus. To perform the movement, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your back erect and your spine in a neutral position. Lower your body slowly, by moving your hips backward, as if you are sitting in a chair. If you are using weight, it should be centered directly over your heels. Lower only to about 90 degrees or less of knee flexion.