I’m a huge fan of bodyweight exercises, that is, exercises that require no equipment, only your body.  Most people have bodies, so these exercises are probably something YOU can benefit from (sorry, dear body-less readers).  So, what makes bodyweight exercises so special? Well, they…

  • Can be done anywhere, anytime
  • Are easily modified for different ability levels
  • Get amazing results
  • Are generally safer than free weights/lifting
  • Don’t require any equipment
  • Can contribute to a clutter-free, minimalist lifestyle (?)

You don’t have to lift heavy weights to get seriously fit; try just mastering your own bodyweight.  Here’s my 3 favorite bodyweight exercises to get you going, with instructions:

 

PUSH-UPS

Bodyweight Push-ups

Bodyweight Push-ups – Standard Grip

Known as press-ups in the UK, push-ups are the gold standard bodyweight exercise.  Push-ups work your chest, shoulders, arms, abs, even your legs.  Here’s how they’re done

  • Set your hands slightly wider than your shoulders, and set your feet at whatever width feels comfortable (generally wider is more stable)
    • Do this from your knees instead, until you can complete all steps correctly from toes
  • Keep your body straight from feet to head by clenching your butt and engaging your abs
  • Drop down without flaring your elbows out wide (keep them closer to your sides) until arms are 90 degrees or until your chest hits the ground
  • Explode back up from the ground and return to start position
  • Pat yourself on the back (later)

That’s it.  Now, whenever you hear “Push It” by Salt-n-Pepa you can drop and do these.

SQUATS

Squats

Squats – Prisoner Style

Do you know squat?  Some people don’t know squat…but they should!  The king of all lower body exercises, these bad boys work your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and more.  Here’s how:

  • Start with feet a bit wider than shoulder-width, knees under hips, and ankles under knees – toes and knees pointing same direction
  • Place hands straight forward, palms down (or behind your head for prisoner style, pictured above)
  • Begin by sending your hips backward as your knees bend, keep your weight on your heels
  • Keep chest and shoulders upright, the back straight, and your head facing forward with eyes straight ahead
  • Go as deep as your mobility allows, ideally getting your hips under your knees
  • From bottom, engage core, push through your heels and explode back to standing

Now, you can tell people you DO know squat, thank you very much, and you can do squats when you hear “Baby Got Back”!

SITUPS

Sit-ups

Sit-ups – Hands Behind Head

Now, it’s true that abs are made in the kitchen, but they are definitely strengthened by exercises like these.  In fact, you build the abs with exercise, and then use proper nutrition to reveal the abs.  Here’s how they’re done:

  • Lie flat on your back, knees bent, feet about a foot and a half from your tailbone
  • Place hand across your chest, or, to make it harder, place fingertips behind ears (pictured above)
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together, exhale, and engage your abs and curl up toward your knees, keeping your eyes up, chin tilted slightly forward
  • Rise until you are sitting fully upright, or your chest reaches your thighs
  • Inhale and slowly lower yourself until your back and shoulders contact the floor
  • Keep your ab muscles contracted throughout the downward phase
  • It may help to have someone hold your feet down or place your feet under something solid (under the edge of a bed or sofa perhaps)

There you have it: the one kind of sitting that’s actually good for you (actually, wall sitting aint bad either).

The beauty of all these exercises are that they all can be modified in a ton of different ways to work different areas of your body and keep things fresh and interesting.  In fact, that’s just what I did in Cards Against Obesity 😉  Keep practicing doing these correctly and you’ll build the strength needed to demolish your friends and conquer your enemies!

 

Categories: Fitness

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