5 of the Best Bodyweight Exercises to Try at Home

So you wanna get fit but maybe you’re still leery of joining a gym (don’t be) or, maybe you just want a small arsenal of exercises you know you can do well before you do get into the gym. Never fear! Here are 5 awesome bodyweight exercises you can master at home!

Push Ups:

The classic yet oft-dreaded push-up. Push-ups come in a variety of forms – each more complicated than the next. Unless you have severe mobility or strength issues I recommend starting with the classic and then make adjustments as necessary.

Push-ups target the chest, arms, and shoulders, and recruit support from other muscles including your core.

Starting in plank position, slowly bend your arms at the elbow to lower your chest until it touches the mat. (Ideally, your elbows should stay tucked in close to the body. However, some degree of elbow flair is allowable. Try to keep it below 45 degrees.)

Then, push yourself back up into plank. Try not to let your elbows flair out to the sides too much. Perform as many times as you can.

If the classic push-up proves too difficult you can perform the exercise on your knees (“modified” aka “the girl version”) or with your feet shoulder width apart which will help with stabilization if your arms are weak.

As the exercise becomes easy, transition into the classic movement.

Tips: keep your back straight and your core tight and strong. If you begin to feel strain in your back that’s means your core has lost tone which increases the risk of back strain/injury.)

Tricep Dips:

Tricep Dips focus on (you guessed it) the triceps!

First up! To reduce the risk of injury, make sure your chair/bench won’t slide or fall over as your perform the exercise.

To perform this exercise, position yourself on the edge of a stable chair (no wheels) or a bench with feet extended just past the perpendicular. Next, slowly lower your self off the chair ensuring that the seat of the chair stays in gentle contact with your back as you descend. Lower yourself until your arms create a 90 degree bend (or go further if possible) and then push yourself back up until your arms are fully extended. Perform up to 10 repetitions.

Sit-Ups/Crunches:

Sir-ups are a controversial exercise. Some professionals will say that crunches provide the same benefits as sit-ups while also lessening the strain on the lower back and others will say both should be included in any abdominal strength regimen.

To be honest, both are true. The difference will really depend on your back health. If you have trouble in your lower back, ditch the sit-up and opt for a crunch (or avoid both all together.) Sit-ups do target additional muscles that the crunch does not so if you’re looking for a 6 pack do both if your body will allow.

To perform a sit-up, start by laying back down on a mat, pull your knees up so that they are bent short of perpendicular. This will reduce unnecessary strain on the lower back. Place your hands behind your head or across the chest and then contract your abdomen so that everything north of your glutes (booty) rises off the floor. Keep your back straight as you sit up. Do not put pressure on your neck if your hands are behind your head.

If the sit-up is giving your grief, try tucking your toes under your sofa. This will give you some resistance to work with and should help you complete the movement. Perform up to 10 repetitions.

Crunches:

Crunches are an excellent substitute for sit-ups. They provide much of the same benefit without applying too much strain to the lower back.

To perform this exercise lay on your back on a mat. Pull your knees up so that they are bent. Place your hands behind your head or across your chest. Now, lift and curl your shoulders towards your pelvis. You should feel the contraction in your abs. If you place your hands behind your head be careful to push against your head as this can cause or aggravate a neck injury. Perform up to 10 repetitions.

Squats:

Squats, squats, squats. I love squats!

To perform a squat, start in a standing position with your feet hip to shoulder width apart. Make sure that your body is squared  up, facing forward (if you’re not sure, tighten your butt. This will square you up.) Your feet should either be facing straight forward or turned outwards slightly. (The positioning here will largely depend on your own skeleton. Aim for what feels comfortable.)

Arms may be held outstretched in front of you (as if you were flying), outstretched with hands clasped or hands clasped against your chest. Your back should remain flat as a board.

Center your weight in your heels, bend the knees, and push your butt back (as if you were sitting down in a chair.) Aim for a minimum for a 90 degree bend at your knees. If you can go lower, do it. You should feel a stretch on the tops of your thighs.

Push through your heels to return to a standing position. Perform up to 10 repetitions.

Superman:

The Superman is a lower back exercise so again, if you have LB issues, it may be best to avoid it.

To perform the Superman, lay prone (face down) on a mat and make sure your arms and legs are fully extended. Next, lift your arms and legs off the mat as high as you can. Do not allow your next to travel upwards. Keep your eyes focused ahead. You should feel the contraction in your lower back. Hold for 1-5 seconds then release. Perform up to 10 repetitions.

There you have it! 5 exercises you can do comfortably at home!

Note: I’m not a Certified Personal Trainer (yet!) nor am I health professional. Any advice found here is strictly meant for entertainment purposes only (obviously.)

I encourage everyone to do their due diligence by researching not only these exercises but others for personal suitability and proper technique. YouTube has a ton of videos from CPT’s that demonstrate these exercises. If you get hurt, sue them, not me.

Images courtesy of http://www.workoutlabs.com

Om, Baby. Om,

Joshua T.

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