What’s the best exercise option  – one which focuses on an activity such as running or yoga, or a full-body workout routine that gives you all-round fitness? It entirely depends on what your focus is for development. If you want to just do the minimum to stay active and fit, then you need not worry about going the whole hog and a daily run or swimming and yoga sessions will suffice, but for the full-body workout, you need to carve out extra time and also have some equipment ready.

From crucial warm-up drills and stretches to bodyweight exercises, and extending to some basic gym workouts, a full-body workout routine gradually build ups to more intense plyometric exercises such as squat jumps, reverse crunches and weight training.

Calf stretches
This is one of the essential workouts for anyone looking to take up sporting activity seriously. Make sure you stretch your calf muscles and Achilles tendons against a wall. These sites can be prone to injury among athletes. Face and lean against a wall keeping the leg or legs straight while keeping the heels down. For the tendons, keep the toes pointed inward and do the same stretch, with the knees bent and while the heels remain pinned to the floor.

Lunge sets

Lunging forward, sideways and behind, with various degrees of bend in the knee. You could choose to use weights for lunges or just use your bodyweight. This helps develop lower body strength, and gives your muscles good memory to activate faster.

Reverse Crunch
Not many people realise this but crunches not only strengthen your core, but add flexibility to your upper body as well. You cannot make a good crunch without the adequate upper body range of motion, and this exercise proves handy for other activity such as running or swimming.

Lie on your back and put your feet up in the air with knees bent at 90 degrees. Let your hands rest on the floor besides your body, or tuck them behind your head. Now pull yourself up from your abdomen, while keeping the belly button tight. Keep going up till your lower back is off the floor, and your knees are straight and your legs are perpendicular to floor. Do not let your legs touch the floor at any time in the exercise.

High Knee Pumps
A great cardio exercise that adds an exaggerated plyo element to your running, and gets your heart pumping. When performed regularly it will improve flexibility and power in the lower limbs as it works on quadriceps, soleus, gluteus maximus, rectus abdominis, hamstrings, hip abductors, and your tibia muscles.

Stand straight with the feet hip width apart, looking straight ahead and arms by your side. Jump from one foot to the other at the same time lifting your knees as high as possible, hip high is the recommended height as this gives you that explosive power throughout your legs. The arms should be following the motion as well, swelling up with your leg. Make sure you land on the balls of your feet.

Carioca Step
Make this a part of your warmup drills or to build up the intensity. The carioca is an excellent coordination exercise which requires you to run sideways with a criss-cross movement such that your legs cross back and forth. Start by slowly moving your left leg behind you, then bring the right leg in an arc in front of you to move sideways. Slowly build up momentum, and switch the leg sweeping back after 8-10 steps.

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Plyo Pushups
Plyometric pushups are some of the best exercises because they build quick, explosive hands and a powerful upper body. There are multiple variations to plyo pushups, with spiderman pushups, tiger pushups, clap pushups or even shoulder-tap pushups. We will focus on the clap pushups as these also help improve your reflexes.

Get down in a standard pushup position, and perform a regular pushup, getting your chest to an inch or so above the floor. Breathe out and push yourself back up with force, such that your hands are in the air. Now perform a clap under your chest area and quickly bring them out to balance your body in the up position.

Squat Jumps
Like the above pushups, squat jumps are one of the best lower body plyometric exercises that improve strength, agility, reflexes and jumping ability.

Get into a standard squat position with feet comfortably apart, but hold the phone tightly in one hand. Lower yourself while inhaling into the deep squat position, stopping when your thighs are below the knee level. Instead of getting back up slowly, exhale and push up through your legs and launch yourself straight up, off the floor. Swing your arms over your head from the sides while jumping. Land back in the deep squat position. And repeat.

Leg workouts

Leg extensions, leg curls and leg presses in the gym will help strengthen your lower body and help prevent injuries that could hamper any other activity you may have planned. For example, if you are planning to take up basketball, you need to develop power and speed to make those leaps and jumps. This is crucial to cover distance and vertical jumping ability defines good players. For this split squats or squat jumps are the order of the day. Perfect to help build jumping ability over time.

Quad extensions

Quad extensions are another way to make sure your leg muscles can withstand the impact of running on hard surfaces, and can balance you as you rock back and forth. The quads will be doing a lot of heavy lifting, when you run stairs or even reach up to grab something. This exercise will keep you in top shape for everyday activities, and won’t make you break down mid running up a flight of steps. Make sure it gets enough exercise in your routine.

Shoulder strength

Upper body strength is crucial for nearly all everyday activities. Over period, without proper attention, you are likely to develop problems around shoulders, sides and upper back. Medial – internal – and lateral – external – shoulder rotation exercises using dumbbells, cables or resistance bands should help you develop strength and flexibility in the rotator cuff. Do not overdo the shoulder exercises as it can seriously hamper your chances on the court.

Of course, it’s easy to concentrate only on your conditioning. Don’t forget to include a nutritious and well-rounded diet. You will need a lot of energy, while your muscles also need protein and fat. So a balanced diet with carbohydrates and protein will benefit you with more energy to burn as long as you are adequately exercising. High protein will promote muscle building which adds more strength.

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