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If you feel pain going down stairs, he says, strengthening your quads with squats may very well help. And our experts tended to favor strength-training exercises that target multiple muscle groups.

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There are also triathlons, Tough Mudders, Super Spartans, and other obstacle races for people who like variety. Not everyone likes getting fit just for the sake of getting fit. Although you might not have a “ripped body” yet, these small changes shouldn’t be dismissed. “For someone starting out, I notice that within 2 weeks they can start feeling the benefits of exercise,” Jamie Logie, a personal trainer who runs Wellness Regained, told Healthline. Marketing campaigns might claim otherwise, but the truth is, there’s no quick way to get fit.

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time. Adam Rufa, physical therapist; certified strength and conditioning specialist , Cicero, N.Y. The trouble is that poor form can change the whole exercise, putting emphasis or even strain on different areas than intended. “Done with good technique, all exercises do what they’re supposed to do,” says Petersen.

For a standard crunch, says Cotton, begin lying on your back with feet flat on the floor and fingertips supporting your head. Press your low back down and begin the exercise by contracting abdominals and peeling first your head , then your neck, shoulders, and upper back off the floor.

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These seven exercises are excellent, efficient choices, the experts say. But with just about any strength or resistance exercise, says Petersen, the question is not so much whether the exercise works as how well you execute. For his part, Petersen teaches his clients to do crunches with their feet off the floor and knees bent. He says that with feet kept on the floor, many people tend to arch the back and engage the hip flexors.

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Experts say that when done correctly, the familiar crunch is a good choice to target them. “I’m very much into planking exercises, almost yoga-type moves,” says Petersen. “Anytime you have the pelvis and the core in a suspended position, you have to rely on your own adherent strength to stabilize you.” If done correctly, the push-up can strengthen the chest, shoulders, triceps, and even the core trunk muscles, all at one time. Gotlin sees lots of patients with knee pain, and says quadriceps weakness is the cause much of the time.