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Build strength and fitness by using your own body

By The Health News Team | September 27, 2019
Build strength and fitness by using your own body

You don't need an expensive gym membership or fancy equipment to get a good strength training workout.

"Body weight training is a basic fitness approach that requires zero to minimal equipment," says Olga Hays, an American Council on Exercise-certified wellness promotion specialist at Sharp HealthCare. "All you need is your body weight for resistance and a little room to move for an effective, no-cost workout."

"The biggest benefit of body weight training is convenience — you can do the exercises anywhere, anytime," she says.

Body weight exercises can be as effective as training with free weights or weight machines.

"You can build strength, burn calories, and increase endurance and overall athleticism in as little as 20 minutes a day, two to three times a week," Hays says.

"Push-ups and pull-ups are exercises that usually come to mind when you think of body weight movements," Hays explains. "However, these moves require proper form and a certain amount of strength that may not be easy for an average individual."

5 simple body weight exercises
Hays suggests adding these five body weight exercises a few times a week for an effective workout. Do two to three sets of each exercise with 30 to 45 seconds rest between sets, or as a circuit (one after the other without rest):

1. Reverse Lunges

Reverse lunges
  • Stand up straight, with hands on hips, and brace your core.

  • Take a big step backward with the left foot.

  • Lower until both legs are bent at 90-degree angles, keeping chest tall and core engaged.

  • Push through the right heel to return to standing.

  • Repeat 12 to 15 times.

  • Switch legs, and repeat.

2. Plank

Reverse lunges
  • Lie face down with legs extended and elbows bent, directly under shoulders; clasp your hands.

  • Contract your abs, then tuck your toes to lift your body (forearms remain on the ground); you should be in a straight line from head to heels.

  • Hold for 30 seconds or as long as you can.

  • Release and rest.

  • Repeat for another 30 seconds.

3. Squat Jacks

Reverse lunges
  • Start standing with your feet together, hands at your chest.

  • Jump up and sit back into a small squat by spreading your feet, bending your knees and pressing your hips back.

  • Push through the heels and jump your feet back together to return to standing.

  • Repeat 12 to 15 times.

4. Plank Taps

Reverse lunges
  • Start in a high plank with your feet hip-width apart, and your hands directly under your shoulders.

  • Slowly lift one hand off the ground to tap the opposite shoulder, and return to start. Then repeat on the other side.

  • Continue alternating hands for 20 total reps, while keeping your body in a straight line with your core engaged.

5. Single-Leg Glute Bridge

Reverse lunges
  • Lie down with your arms at your sides, knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

  • Lift your left leg straight up toward the ceiling.

  • Holding that position, squeeze your glutes and raise your hips.

  • Hold this position for a count of one, then lower back down for one rep.

  • Repeat 12 times.

  • Switch legs, and repeat.

"Body weight workouts can make a great addition to your fitness routine," says Hays. "Moving yourself in unusual angles with leverage leads to a more natural range of motion, increased body awareness and coordination."

Relying on your own body makes it easier to modify your fitness level for better performance, reduced risk of injury and overall adherence to your training program.

Learn more about exercise and fitness classes offered by Sharp HealthCare.

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