Strength training is a progressive thing: as you progress and grow stronger, the intensity and resistance of your exercises will evolve to continue to challenge you and keep those results coming. There are very specific variables that effect how hard an exercise is that you can use to increase that intensity incrementally. You can’t always just add more weight, so here are four other ways to ramp up the results of your body weight workouts.
How to Strength Train Without Weights
Change the angle: The steeper the angle of your body toward your exercising muscles, the harder the exercise will be. Example: elevate your feet during push-ups to make them tougher, or place your hands on a stair to decrease the angle for an easier modification of a standard pushup.
Decrease the stability: Reducing your contact with the floor instantly works more muscles groups to keep you balanced. You can do this by lifting one foot or hand off the ground, or getting off the floor completely with an unstable surface like a bosu, a balance board, or a stability ball.
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We need 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity physical activity, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. It’s a great goal but it can feel unattainable for many people. If you’re new to exercise, jumping from zero to 30 minutes EVERY DAY can feel as daunting as being asked to run a marathon. This is especially true if you have no idea where to start or what to do for those 30 minutes.
Even for experienced exercisers there are days with back-to-back meetings or when the alarm doesn’t go off – again. Exercise can get pushed off the plate to balance out the daily demands on our time. With the holidays upon us, time for workouts becomes even more precious and scarce then usual. Rookie or pro, we can all fall into the “all or nothing” trap.
By the time I drive to the gym, I’ll just have to turn around and come right back. If I can’t get my whole workout in why even bother?
I can’t walk on the treadmill for FIVE minutes, how am I supposed to do 30? Where am I even going to find 30 minutes in my day?
New Book Preview: What You Can, When You Can
If the “all or nothing” mentality is holding you back from getting your daily workout, I’ve got good news for you. The latest research says our minimum dose of exercise may be lower than we once thought. A recent study in the journal Lancet looked at exercise patterns and life expectancy of over 400,000 men and women. They found that as little as 15 minutes a day provided health benefits and reduced all cause mortality.
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There are three benefits to hiring a personal trainer. The first is accountability. Having someone waiting on you helps insure you get to the gym. The second is structure. We have enough to think about, letting someone else put together the workout is a huge time saver. The third is having someone who pushes you out of your comfort zone and makes you do the exercises you hate.
Even the most devoted exerciser has at least one exercise they love to hate. We hate it when we’re doing it, but we love the way we feel or look afterwards. I did an informal poll of my clients and came up with the five exercises they love to hate (and why we should all do them anyway).
Burpees (aka squat thrusts): I don’t think one client likes burpees. I like them because they are efficient. If you want to get to your heart rate up and work multiple muscle groups (core, arm, shoulders and quads) then the burpee is the quickest way to do it. A burpee can also be modified for almost every fitness level.
Squats: I get groans every time I mention squats. That means there are a lot of groans because we do some form of a squat at every workout. Squats are a part of daily life (think about every time you get up out of the chair). If you want to stay independent and function for your whole life squats need to be part of your workout routine.
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Getting to the gym on the weekends doesn’t usually happen for me. It’s my time to relax and unwind and the last thing I want to do is get bundled up, make myself presentable and go get sweaty for an hour. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a quick workout before my weekend officially kicks off. This 10-minute arm workout that can be done at home (or anywhere) is my solution for that.
From boxing to yoga to body weight moves, this quick arm toning workout hits almost your entire upper body, including triceps, chest, core, and even your legs. So get into something comfy and breathable, grab a bottle of water to stay hydrated, and let’s get started!
Pamela Hernandez owns Thrive Personal Fitness in Springfield, MO where she focuses on weight training for weight loss. She writes a blog for her web site, www.thrivepersonalfitness.com, sharing vegetarian recipes from her kitchen, exercise strategies, lifestyle tips and stories from her own journey. You can also follow Pamela on Twitter @ThriveFit or pick up more tips on Facebook, www.facebook.com/thrivepersonalfitness.
If your main excuse for not exercising is lack of money for a gym membership or at home equipment, get ready to put it behind you. You don’t need a gym to get an effective and challenging workout. You don’t need weights or infomercial gadgets. You already have the only equipment you need – your own body.
Body weight exercises are some of the most effective (if you can’t move your own body weight how do expect to lift heavy dumbbells?) and they can be done anywhere (fitting well into a busy schedule at home or on the road.)
I have 5 essential body weight exercises for you. If you do these exercises you will hit all your major muscle groups; doing them circuit style will get your heart rate up at the same time for an extra cardio boost.
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