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The Best Body Composition Exercises to Help You Achieve Your Goals

Christiana Mikesch
Published by Christiana Mikesch
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: February 2, 2021

A common mistake many people make is that body composition exercises are about weight loss. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, if you do body composition exercises the right way, then you would gain lean body mass while lowering your body fat percent.

And because muscle tissue weighs more than fat, you could see an increase on the scales.

What you need to avoid, though, is just regular weight training, without targeting the flabby stuff as well.

So, let’s start with some basics before we jump into an exercise routine.

What Is Body Composition?

a woman's flat stomach

Body composition is the ratio of your lean body mass compared to fat.

It essentially tells you what percent of your body is made up of fat [1], which is a good indication of how healthy and fit you are.

It’s important to understand that improving your body composition should not just be about fat loss and achieving a healthy weight.

It should be about decreasing fat and increasing your muscle mass.

And while a cardio exercise routine can work well to burn off fat, it won’t do much to boost your lean muscle mass. That’s why we’ve come up with a special lean mass strength training routine.

Let’s take a look at a simple exercise program for you.

What you’ll find here is a set of resistance training workouts that target your entire body. They are ideal for lining up as part of a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) program.

The goal should be to keep your heart rate high by avoiding long breaks in between the aerobic exercise moves.

Here’s what you should do at each exercise station.

1. Push-Ups

man doing push ups

Pushups are one of the best ways to take advantage of your own body weight while activating muscles in your back, shoulders, arms, and chest.

These are areas where you often have some hidden body fat that you might not pay as much attention to as those love handles around your waist.

Aim to mix things up with wide, military, and diamond push-ups so that your activity triggers muscles in different ways.

It’s one way to speed up how fast you can build lean mass.

2. Burpees

man doing burpees

These will really get the sweat flowing.

Start in a push-up position with your body completely straight. Jump your knees up to your chest with your hands still on the ground.

Stand up straight and optionally do a jump when you get to the top of the movement.

From there, squat back down again and plant your hands on the ground while jumping your feet back out, so you end up back in the starting position.

You’ll find that these work your leg muscles, core, and even shoulders.

3. Lunge Jumps

man performing lunges with a dumbbell

These are great for your hamstrings and glutes, and they will also trigger your core to get rid of some mid-body fat.

Stand up straight and take a long step forward and drop your whole body down by bending your knees.

The knee of your front leg should remain over your front foot and get down to a right angle.

The knee of the back leg should go down to about an inch above the ground and then explosively push yourself back up with both legs into a jump and land in your starting position.

Keep repeating this for alternating legs.

4. Squat Jumps

man about to squat jump

These are even better if you have a weighted vest as it frees up your hands to help with the jump.

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and lower your butt down to just below your knees.

Your upper body should remain straight and vertical throughout the move.

Once you get to the bottom, push yourself back up through your heels and end up in a jump.

You should really feel the burn in your lower body and core as well.

5. Plank

man in a plank position

The plank is a great way to strengthen your entire core and drastically change your body composition.

The trick here is to not fool yourself into being a hero.

Stop when your hips start to sag, or you struggle to control the shake in your muscles.

Once that happens, you won’t get the same benefits, and you’d actually be better off doing a few more sets of good quality planks than forcing yourself through longer ones.

6. Pull-Ups

man doing pull ups

I always include pull-ups in an upper-body training program as it’s one exercise that engages a wide muscle range.

Switch things around with wide and close-grip, and if you manage to build up enough strength, try some towel-grip pull-ups.

If you still struggle to complete more than a couple of full pull-ups, I would suggest using a chair to push yourself up. The important thing is to get the full range of motion.

7. Ab & Core Workouts

man doing sit ups

This is where people tend to have most of their fat mass, which means that targeted core and ab work is needed.

Building up muscle strength in your core will also help you maintain a better posture while exercising or sitting at a desk for work [2].

Examples of core workouts would be deadlifts, ab crunches, hanging leg raises, side plank, and bicycle kicks.

“The muscles on the front of your torso also called your core muscles, can affect your ability to maintain good posture. A strong core helps you stand straighter and keeps your trunk stabilized during your workout — or even as you go about your daily activities.” - ClevelandClinic.org.

Are You Going To Try These Body Composition Exercises?

Unless you’re dealing with severe weight issues and need to lose weight for overall health reasons, I would always suggest balancing weight loss with strength training.

You don’t need to get into a bodybuilding exercise and activity routine, but targeted training to burn calories and trigger muscle growth can be the ideal solution for most people.

Try out the above routine on a few of your training days, and then let us know how much your health and appearance have improved.


References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/index.html
  2. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/want-improved-posture-try-strengthening-your-core-with-this-move/

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