No Gym! – Total Guide To Bodyweight Training At Home
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Anyone can benefit from bodyweight training. That’s right, regardless of age, fitness level or experience, everyone can gain from doing bodyweight training.
Bodyweight training has been around for a long, long time – thousands of years. Before the invention of weight training equipment, bodyweight was all people had to train with. The Ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Indian Wrestlers, Shaolin Monks and even the military today used (and the last three still use) bodyweight training as a primary source of physical fitness. Why? Two reasons: it can be done anywhere and it works! In particular we are going to look at five ways almost anyone can benefit from bodyweight training:
1) Weight Loss/Management
While bodyweight training is not known for its calorie burning ability, it is known for building muscle and muscle mass burns calories; the more muscle, the more calories burned even when at a resting rate. So bodyweight training should be viewed as having more of a long term result when it comes to weight loss or management.
2) Stay Flexible
Older adults benefit greatly from bodyweight training, because as we age, we tend to lose bone mass and get more inflexible. However because bodyweight exercises use eccentric and concentric contraction, they tend to work a joint through its full range of motion, thus improving flexibility. This translates to less joint pain making the Golden Years more enjoyable.
3) Make Life Easier
Just doing all the things of daily life, such as laundry, vacuuming, carrying in groceries are more difficult if the muscles used in these tasks are not toned and developed. Because bodyweight exercises are a functional type of training program, it develops the muscle you use most, thus making daily tasks easier.
4) Better Mental Health
Wait, how can bodyweight training help me mentally? When we exercise, our heartrate goes up and the blood in our veins and arteries pumps faster, thus taking more wastes out of our cells and bringing in more oxygen and hormones necessary for good health. Not only does this happen in the cells of our muscles, but also in the brain cells. Consequently, you can think more clearly and have less stress.
5) Sleep Better
Bodyweight training helps reduce the stress hormone cortisol. With reduced stress levels, less will be on your mind when you go to bed, meaning not only will you go to sleep quicker, but you’ll get a more restful quality of sleep.
With being well rested the next day, looking great from the toning and defining bodyweight training does to your muscles, confidence and self-esteem will exude from you; all around you people will notice and ask what you are doing to look and feel as good as you do. Tell them – bodyweight training!
The best part about this is that you can do all of them at home!
4 Stair Workout Ideas for the Home
Exercising at home can be just as costly as joining a gym. You have to buy workout equipment, weights and floor mats. You also need to have enough room to work out. That is why so many fitness fanatics simply pay a monthly or yearly fee and use the equipment at the local gymnasium or health club.
Unfortunately, that can mean waiting in line for the machine you want to use. It also requires travel time for you to make it to your gym. Then there is the issue of aggressive or even hostile gym members or staff making your workout anything but enjoyable.
If you have a staircase in your home, you can enjoy a serious strength training and cardio workout. A recent search for “home stair workout ideas” on YouTube returned 5,272 results. This means you can watch others workout on their home staircases to give you some ideas about how to use your stairs for exercise.
The easiest way is to simply use the bottom step in an up-and-down running-in-place workout. Stand in front of the first step of your staircase. With feet about shoulder width apart, step your left foot onto the first step. Then place your right foot onto the first step. Return your left foot back to the starting position, followed by your right. Slowly increase the speed and repeat. Work up to a slow running speed, and go for 3 to 5 minutes.
Try an inclined press. You are going to perform a push-up, but really crank up the muscle resistance. Once again, start at the bottom of your staircase. Place your feet toes down on your second step. This adds more resistance to a traditional push-up, since your feet are elevated. Place your hands palm down at the foot of your landing, and perform as many inclined push-ups as you can.
Stand at the bottom of your stairs. Keeping your left foot on the landing before your staircase, step up with your right foot and place it on the edge of the third step. Lean forward, bending your knee as much as possible. Pause, and return to the starting position. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions with each leg.
Lying on your back at the foot of the stairs, place your heels on the second step. This is really going to work your core, as it adds more resistance to the traditional crunch or sit-up. With your hands beside your head, slowly raise your back off of the floor. Compress your abdominals, pause at the top, and return your starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
3 Household Items You Can Use Instead of Weights
There are many items around the house that one can use instead of weights. Whether your reason is not having enough space to store more exercise equipment or a lack of funds to buy it, here are some items that make good strength training equipment equivalents.
Canned, bottled, bagged or boxed items
A can of soup makes a great replacement for a one pound weight to use in doing bicep curls. And the beauty of it is that as you progress, just use a heavier canned or bottled product. Need a two pound weight? Grab a big bottle of ketchup!
Need a heavier weight to do weighted lunges? A one gallon milk jug weighs around 8.5 pounds. You and make it weigh more by refilling it with sand once empty for an even better workout or as you progress in strength and want to challenge your muscles even more.
A bag of flour or rice can easily weight 5 pounds. Either works great to put on your chest when doing crunches. Grab a box of laundry detergent for one-arm rows; it can weigh up to 10 pounds. Most of the boxes even have a built-in handle. What a deal!
You might already have these in your garage, the stretchy cords that you use to tie down things when hauling. Just tie loops on each end – one for your hand and the other for your foot. Or if long enough, you can put a loop in each hand and step on the middle of the cord to work both arms doing bicep curls. If you have short cords, you can put a hand in the loop on each end and stretch it to workout chest and arm muscles. Be sure to work it slow in both directions so you get the full benefit.
Your Own Bodyweight
And of course, you can always use your own bodyweight. If you have stairs in your house, a 140-pound person burns 175 calories by walking up and down for 30 minutes. For tricep dips, use a kitchen chair and your bodyweight.
With strength training, you should have at least a day between exercising the same set of muscles. Strive to do two to three sets of each exercise in your routine with 12 to 15 repetitions per set. A 20 to 30-minute session three to four days per week is all you need to get firm and tone.
4 Abdominal Exercise Ideas
Many bodyweight exercises work at strengthening just the abdominal core, but planks and lunges not only target your core, but burns belly fat too. Let’s look at 2 advanced workout variations of each type…
Most of us are familiar with the basic bridge plank, but let’s look at the Side Plank and one of its variations:
Lie on your side with your legs straight. Prop yourself up with your forearm so your body forms a diagonal line from your shoulders to your feet. Rest your free hand on your hip. Pull in your abs and hold for 60 seconds. If you can’t hold your abs in for that long, hold for 5 to 10 seconds, rest for 5 seconds, hold again, etc. for 1 minute total. Be sure to keep that straight line by keeping your hips and knees off the floor.
Side Plank With Rotation
From the Side Plank position, brace your abs and reach your free hand toward the ceiling. Next, rotate it downward while twisting your body downward until your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Finish the repetition by returning to the side plank starting position. Do 2 or 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps on each side, resting for 1 minute between sets.
Lunges / Reverse Lunge
Grab a 5- to 15-pound dumbbell in your left hand and hold it up next to your left shoulder, palm facing in. Step backward with your left foot and lower your body until your knees are bent and your front leg perpendicular with the floor. During the time you are stepping backward and lowering yourself down, push the dumbbell directly overhead without bending or leaning at the waist. Lower the weight back down to the starting position as you push quickly back to the starting position. Do 10 to 15 of these, then switch sides.
Lunge With Rotation
Grab a 5 to 15-pound dumbbell by the ends with both hands. Keep your elbows straight, but not locked. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms straight out. Pull in your abs and take a big step forward with your left foot while at the same time twisting your torso to the left as you bend your knees and lower your body until your front leg is perpendicular with the floor. Twist back to center, push off your left foot, and back to the starting position. Do 2 or 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps and then repeat with the other leg.
Add these advanced plank and lunge workouts to your normal abdominal routines to bring your core building and belly fat burn to the next level.
A little more about planks
If you are not familiar with “the plank”, it is a great isometric exercise to build your abdominal core, including the abs, obliques (love handles), lower back and the muscles that stabilize the back. And the best part, it does not require any equipment so it can be done almost anywhere, making it a great exercise to perform when away from home.
The Basic Plank
Start by lying face down on the floor. First raise up onto your toes and then rest the front part of your body on your elbows. Basic form should be arms directly beneath your shoulders with your feet hip-width apart. If either is uncomfortable, experiment by moving your arms closer or farther apart or further ahead or back. The same with your feet. Try a wider or narrower stance until you find the position most comfortable.
Next, while keeping your back flat, keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels. Contract your abs by pulling your belly button up toward your spine to ensure you keep that “flat as a plank” straight line and hold in that position for a designated time or until your body begins to shake.
Finish by lowering your body down to the starting position. As you do more and more planks, you’ll notice that you will be able to hold in the plank position longer and it will continue to increase as your abdominal core gets stronger. Not only will a strong core better support your back, it will give you better posture.
While the basic face-down bridge plank position is the standard, there are a number of variations to it. One popular move to target your obliques is the side plank.
Start by lying on your side with your body weight supported on one forearm. Keep your body in a straight line from your upper shoulder to your feet. Rest your free arm on your hip. Hold for 3 seconds keeping your core tight. Be sure to switch sides so each set of muscles worked doing this exercise are equally stressed. Otherwise with one set stronger than the other, you could be at an increased risk for an injury.
Other variations to the basic face-down plank include supporting yourself on both feet, but raising one arm or supporting yourself on both arms, but raising one leg. Hold each position for 3 seconds.
As your abdominal core gets stronger, you’ll be able to hold each position longer. Experts generally agree that the plank is a much better exercise to strengthen your abdominal core than crunches, plus there is less risk of damaging your spinal column.
5 Variations on the Standard Push Up
A push up is a push up is a push up right? Not necessarily. There are many variations of the standard classic that so many of us are used to doing. Changing things up by varying your pushup type will keep your routine from being anything but dull. While there are over a dozen different types of push ups, I’ve highlighted 5 of the most popular ones including the:
The starting position is the same as the classic, but instead your arms are wider than shoulder-width apart. Be sure to keep your hands in the vertical plane below your shoulders and don’t let your elbows flare out too much. This keeps the stimulation more on your chest, shoulders and triceps as opposed to just your shoulders.
Opposite of the wide grip, the diamond has your hands directly under your chest with the thumbs and forefingers touching, thus forming the diamond symbol. The diamond targets the triceps, but because of the hand placement, it also puts more pressure on the wrists, shoulders and elbows. If any of these joints are weak, it might not be a good one for you to do.
The starting position for this variation is the same as for the classic just that your hands are resting on something that is up to two feet off of the floor, such as an incline bench. Because much of your body weight is shifted lower, this one is actually easier to do than the classic, but still gives your shoulders a good workout.
Opposite of the incline, the decline has your feet higher than the rest of your body. Whether you rest your feet on a couple of stair steps above the floor or use a small fitness ball, shifting your weight forward puts more pressure on your wrists, but does work the shoulders nicely.
With this variation, one hand is around 6 inches higher than the other. Because of a shift in weight, more pressure is put on the lower hand. You’ll feel a great burn in your chest and shoulders making this one a good advancement up from the classic. Be sure to alternate sets between hands so that each get an equal workout.
Not only does always doing the classic standard push up get boring, you’ll eventually hit a point where you will want to take your push-ups to the next level. These 5 great variations will spice things up.