When a person is interested in getting fit, one of the first things they think of is they must join a gym. When it comes to gyms, there are two costs involved. Time and money. Most people can use a bit more of each. Others feel intimidated by going to a gym as they feel they may be out of place. Then the thought of a home gym is considered. However, they can get quite expensive. So can a person get fit, trim and strong at their home on a budget? Thankfully the answer is yes!
To do this we don’t need to look any farther than our own bodies. Bodyweight exercises are the most affordable way to workout when both time and money are considered, and they can be done in the privacy of our own homes. They are both challenging and effective and the muscles that we use every day are used. Thus, we will be functionally stronger for our daily activities. If we cannot move our own bodies without injuring ourselves how do we expect to move heavy objects?
Typically, bodyweight exercises are under rated by many trainers, and gym goers. But they can be a powerful tool in our arsenal to gain a strong, lean and fit body. Many think back to jumping jacks in gym class but there is much more to it. Let’s look at 4 basic bodyweight exercises that can be used by either an elite athlete or someone who is just starting a workout program.
Variations of pushups work different muscle groups. They can help to develop a strong upper body by working the pecs, deltoids, and triceps. In addition to muscles that are worked dynamically, they also work other muscle groups statically. These include muscles in the abdomen, glutes, lats, spinal area, as well as the legs including the quadriceps.
There are so many forms of pushups that it would be impossible to list them all. For a beginner, they can start by standing at a wall with their palms against the wall at chest level and your feet together, lean in and gently touch the wall with their forehead.
Those who are advanced can move into one-handed pushups that will develop tremendous pressing strength. Someone advanced can also add plyometric pushups otherwise known as “clapping pushups” which will develop speed. When speed and strength are combined, we achieve power.
Moving to developing lower body strength, we use various forms of the squat. In most gyms you go to you, you will see a squat rack. However, many times it is either ignored or used improperly to hold the barbell for people doing bicep curls. If a person is an athlete, it is imperative they train for strength in the legs. Most athletic maneuvers are transmitted to the ground via the legs. If a person has weak legs, power transfer will be small.
Squats help to develop the most powerful muscles in the body, the glutes. Therefore, it is an exercise that can develop much power in the body. Other muscles included are the smaller hip muscles. Because of the forward motion of the squat, the lumbar muscles are also worked as well as are the abdominal muscles. In the front of the leg, the quadriceps are worked and in the rear, the hamstrings are involved. When the trainee pushes up, the ankle is flexed by the calf muscles. Basically, squats work the entire lower body.
A beginner can start with jackknife squats. Start by standing in front of an object about knee height that will not move. Bend at the hips until your hands are on the object. Bend at the knees and hips while keeping your torso as parallel to the floor as possible. Go as far down as possible or until your thighs touch your calves. If you cannot do that yet, you will have to work on gradually increasing your depth.
Someone who is advanced should look into one-legged squats which can develop tremendous strength. When plyometric jumping is added, speed and power is added in. To add a cardiovascular workout, a person can add burpees that involve squats, pushups, and jumping.
Where pushups can give you tremendous pushing power, pullups will give you tremendous pulling power. They will develop muscles in the forearms responsible for grip, especially if done using a rope. The biceps are worked through the elbow as well as the shoulder. Of course it works muscles in the back such as the lats, traps, rear deltoids and the muscles around the shoulders.
It may seem that a pullup requires something that may not be easily accessible, which is a pull up bar. However, you can use the top of a door or anything that is not too high to safely drop from and perform the exercise.
A beginner can start by standing near something vertical that you can hold onto while standing, such as a door frame. Keep your feet about 3-6 inches away from what you are using. Grip whatever you are using, with your arms slightly bent. Proceed to lean back until your arms are extended. Pause briefly and pull your body back up.
Someone who is more advanced can work towards one-handed pullups. Another form of the pullup that can be developed is the “muscle up” in which you will end up not only pulling your body up to the pullup bar but then pressing the body until the arms are fully extended.
Now it is time to work our abdominals. This is typically the hardest part for people to develop. But without strong abdominals, the body will not be strong as a unit. Leg raises will train the entire midsection and make the whole body stronger. Combined with a proper diet, you will develop 6 pack abs using the leg raise exercise.
A beginner can start with knee tucks. Sit on a bench, lean back a little, and grasp the bench with your hands. Put your feet together and bring your knees up until they are about 6 inches from your chest. Reverse the motion to finish the exercise.
Someone who is advanced can use a pull up bar or door to do hanging leg raises and work up to V-raises which will require you to raise your feet past your face. Someone who is able to perform these will have a strong midsection.
These four bodyweight exercises can provide an excellent foundation for developing your physique. They are not just a compromise for those who have no equipment or do not want to join a gym. These bodyweight exercises are ones that you can use to develop a body that is fit, lean and strong!