8 Exercises That Use Your Own Body Weight
Who needs an expensive gym in order to get a fantastic workout? You can use your own body weight for a series of effective moves that challenge your body, top to bottom. Here are eight exercises that don’t require any special equipment – just your body:
Pushups can be done in a variety of positions. Beginners can start positioned on knees and hands and then as they get stronger, they can progress to the more challenging position on hands and toes, with legs straight. There are a variety of different hand positions that you can use to target just your chest or to include the triceps muscles. If you have a step or stairs in your home, you can also change the angle of your pushups for added variety and heightened challenge. Plyometric pushups (burpees) are a high intensity exercise in which you explode into a full upright position off the floor when you push up and then return to the ground for the next pushup before going into explosive motion again.
Lunges are excellent lower body and core exercises and you can do them in a variety of directions. Lunge forward and lunge backward in order to target different muscles in your legs. You can also do individual backward curtsey style lunges to challenge your hip flexors and your gluteal muscles with a slightly different angle of movement. With good form and a nice number of repetitions, using just your body weight is enough of a challenge. Add free weights when you get stronger.
Wall sits in which you literally slide down into a sitting position, with you back and head against the wall, challenge your quadriceps muscles. Make sure knees are over your ankles and at a 90 degree angle. Timed wall sits are incredibly effective. Do several repetitions and keep extending the time intervals.
Squats can be done with feet hip distance apart as you mimic sitting in an imaginary chair and then standing up straight. You can also “squat out to each side” adding some cardiovascular quality to the move. Plie squats are a variation of this move with you turning feet out and moving feet quite a distance apart. Bend all the way down with knees going out to the side, while your back stays straight and you look straight ahead.
Calf raises are easy to perform and quite effective for working out your lower leg muscles. You can also practice doing calf raises, with one foot slightly off the floor, so you add a balance challenge to the effort.
Jumping jacks are perfect if you want to add intervals of cardiovascular challenge to your workout. You can do a variety of different combinations to add variety.
Triceps pushups can be done with feet on the floor and legs bent or straight. You can also put your feet on a step or chair to change the angle. This is a very effective exercise that helps to strengthen the small upper muscle in the back of each arm. You can vary the distance between your hands to change the level of difficulty of this push up. You can also challenge your triceps by putting your hands close together behind your back, index fingers and thumbs forming a diamond position flat on the floor, as you lower and raise your body.
Planks are incredibly effective for building core strength and simply require that you get into pushup position and hold the position for a particular count. Another option is to balance on your elbows with hands clenched for a count. You should be in a standard push up position and not on your knees for planks.
Crunches are another way to work on your abdominal muscles and there’s an encyclopedia of variations on the standard crunch.
Don’t forget that yoga is a very effective workout that requires only an optional mat or non-slip flooring.
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