Strength training- when you hear those words, what do you think of? Do you think of a gym full of weights, sweaty people, and dumbbells? Or perhaps you see complicated nautilus machines. Or perhaps the image of some home exercise machine or personalized wrist weights come to your mind. In either case, chances are you’ve stayed away from strength training partly because of the expense.
Well what if I told you that there was a way to do strength training without all the equipment? No weights, no clunky metal bars, no trips to the gym, nothing like that. All you would need is your body, the ability to count to twelve and the room you’re in. Would you be interested?
Body weight exercising is simply using your own body as the resistance in the workout. They’re easy to understand and implement, but man, oh man can they be a challenge to do. Here are a few of my “favorites” As always, make sure you check with your health professional before beginning any exercise program, and warm up and stretch before any exercise session.
Remember doing these in school gym class? Well, even when you’re a middle-aged woman like me, these babies can be a wonderful way to get the cardio going and burn those extra calories that you acquired from eating that chocolate mousse last night. Just remember to keep light on your toes, and your body moving in one fluid motion. I usually do three sets of twelve throughout my exercise routine- one at the beginning, middle and end.
Feel like lying down for a while? Good, because the next exercise will let you do just that, and work a good bit of your core muscles. Start by laying on your stomach with your arms and legs stretched out. Raise your arms and legs off the ground, hold for six seconds, and then slowly bring them back down to the ground. Repeat for a set of twelve. These sound easy, but trust me, you’ll feel it pretty quickly in your midsection.
This is one of those deceptively simple static exercises- it is so, so simple to do, and yet packs a lot of power when it comes to strength training. Simply get yourself into a push up position with the arms extended, but not locked, and hold the position for as long as you can, while contracting your stomach muscles. Trust me, this may just be one of the hardest, and most beneficial exercise you’ll ever do, if it is done correctly.
Do you want to improve your coordination, leg strength and overall stability? Mountain climbers are a great way to do just that. Start in a push up position, with your body raised and the arms extended but not locked. Bring one leg forward, bending at the knee and resting the foot somewhere just below your lower mid-section. Bring the leg back to the original position and perform it again with the other leg. Make sure you keep your body in line, and resist the urge to twist your back with each movement. Repeat twelve times per set. You can also add a little speed if you want to get some cardio in as well.
These are just a few of the body weight exercises that I use in my regular routine. There are quite a few others out there, and as always, be sure to consult with your health care professional or an exercise instructor for guidance. Above all, though, have some fun!