Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Body Weight Exercises


This topic is important to me because I've been traveling a lot and not all the places I stay at have a fitness center or access to a fitness center.  For instance, here in Iceland, I am at a guest house that is not near any type of fitness center so I need a way to get resistance integrated into my exercising.  The great thing about using the weight of your body is that it provides resistance for a nice overall workout. In addition, one does not need a gym, equipment, or anything else.  You just need yourself.

What is nice, is that body weight exercises are a great way to boost metabolism, your fitness, and your endurance.  One study concluded that if you used body weight moves as part of high intensity circuit training, it helps one lose body fat effectively and improve muscular fitness.  Furthermore, you may not develop bulky muscles which is fine if you are only interested in improving your overall fitness so you don't suffer injury.  You will tone muscles, build strength, and improve your health.

If you haven't exercised much recently, using body weight exercises is a good way to help one build a good understanding of correct form and movement as you build strength. You can either do the body weight exercises on their own or you can add some moves to your current workout plan.  In addition, these exercises can be done by anyone of any fitness level. 

When starting out it is recommended one do two sets of 15 repetitions of each movement but if you are more advanced, you could do four sets of 15 repetitions. It is best to use a variety of body weight exercises targeting specific parts of the body.  For instance, if you want to work on your chest, look at doing pushups (12 to start) , the push up shuffle in which you do a push up then move a step right, repeat the pushup (5 sets) and move a step to the left, or an isometric chest squeeze where you stand with the hands in front of you at a 90 degree angle so they meet at the chest.  Then push together for 30 seconds and release (10 reps).

For arms try doing tricep reps which can be done using a bench or couch. Sit so your feet are extended in front of you and your back is facing the couch.  Your hands are positioned behind you about a shoulder width between on the couch or bench and fingertips are facing your body.  Straighten your arms so your body is now over the floor and bend your elbows into a 90 degree angle.  Carefully let yourself do down and then raise yourself up.  Repeat 12 times.  Then there is the up-down plank where you  begin in plank position with your body in a straight line.  Take your left arm and put it down on the mat so it is on the ground, bent at a 90 degree angle.  Repeat with the right arm, then straighten the left arm, followed by the right and repeat for 30 seconds.

Let's move on to your back.  Lie down so your face is on the ground, your feet together, and your arms form a Y above your head, Using only your back and shoulder muscles, raise your chest and arms off the ground, hold, and then lower.  Repeat 15 times.  This same exercise can be done with the arms to the side at a 90 degree angle in the same manner.   Another good exercise for the back has you kneeling on the ground on your hands and knees.  You lift the left leg and straighten it backwards and the right arm forward, hold, and lower.  Repeat with the right leg and left arm.  Do 15 on each side.

We are back to the regular plank where you put your legs straight out behind you, arms lifting you up, and your eyes focused on a spot about a foot in front of you.  Hold for at least 30 seconds but longer if you can.  It works your core muscles.  Another exercise for your core and abdomen muscles is the bicycle crunches.  You lay on the ground, your hands lightly on the back of your head, Pull your knees into your chest as you raise your shoulder blades.  At this point extend your left leg out while you twist your upper body so your left elbow touches your right knee.  Straighten and bring your left leg back in, then repeat by extending your right leg and twist to touch your right  elbow to the left knee.  Repeat until 30 seconds is up. 

I am stopping here and will continue with more exercises in the next column.  As you see, these exercises can be done anywhere without much more than a yoga mat.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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