Body weight exercises are an effective and inexpensive way of working out. By using only the resistance of your own body, you can gain strength, endurance and inner peace. Body weight exercises are great because you can get an effective workout anytime, any place, with no equipment. Walking, swimming, dancing and yoga are all considered body weight exercises. While I encourage you to explore those, here are a couple specific body weight exercises to try out:
The Superman Lie on your stomach with your arms and legs outstretched, with a neutral spine so your elbows are by ears. Contracting your lower back, gently lift your arms and legs off the ground, hold for a few breaths, and slowly release them back to the floor. Repeat. This exercise works your lower back and core.
Tricep Dips Okay, technically, this uses one piece of equipment, but you can find it anywhere. Start with your back to a chair, bench, stair or steady surface that can hold your weight. Sit on the chair and place your hands on the edge of the chair, right on the outside of your hips. Slide your butt off the chair so it is just an inch or so in front (moving too far off the edge can put pressure on your shoulders). With your legs outstretched, lower your body towards the floor by bending your elbows until they reach a 90 degree angle (or close to it.) Keeping your back close to the chair, push up through your hands and bring yourself back to the starting position. This move works your triceps, or the back of your upper arms.
Reverse Crunch Lie on your back with your feet off the floor, knees bent at 90 degrees, your hands on the floor, at your sides. Keeping your belly button pulled in and your lower back flat on the floor, slowly lower your feet towards the ground, keeping the 90 degree angle in your knees. Once you hit the ground, or can’t keep your back on the floor, bring your knees back to starting position. This exercise works your lower abs, that pooch area that is so hard to hit.
Push Ups It’s a myth that ‘girl’ push-ups don’t work. An effective push up can be performed on either the knees or toes- but if you can do around 15 ‘girl’ push-ups in a row, it’s time to switch to your toes. Be sure to keep your back straight and abs in. If you regular push-ups are too easy, try decline push-ups. Place your feet on a stair or chair so more of your body weight is placed on your hands. This exercise works your chest and triceps, plus upper body recruiting muscles.
Burpees (or Squat Thrusts) Begin in a standing position. Drop down into a squat and place both of your hands in front of your feet. Shoot out into plank position, pull your legs back in, and jump up back to standing. Burpees should be done quickly and with large levels of enthusiasm- these are a great cardio exercise if you are short on space and work all the muscles in the body at once.
Wall Sit Position your back against a wall, with your knees at a ninety degree angle. Your feet should be about two feet from the wall. Pretend as though you are sitting on a chair. Make sure your weight in on your heels, not your toes, and keep your hands in front of you- don’t brace them against your legs. Hold for as long as you can, striving to improve your time with each session. For a variation on this, try spreading your feet further from the wall and alternately raise each knee to your chest. This is also called a wall squat and works all the muscles of the legs.
November 5th, 2010