Low impact resistance exercise is a growing trend in our community. Some lack the self-esteem to walk into a gym. Not everyone is a big fan of loading up plates on barbells. And what about those who are just getting started on their weight loss and maybe haven’t exercised in years? There are quite a few reasons to try some resistance exercises that can be done in private. My first several months of resistance exercise were all done at home – so why not yours?
Before you decide that this is the easy way out, consider this: pound for pound, gymnasts are some of the strongest athletes on the planet. Now, consider the routines you see gymnasts performing. They are hanging from rings, whirling around on uneven bars and pommel horses, and catapulting themselves into the air during floor exercises. Not a set of dumbells to be seen, right? These feats are being accomplished mainly with body resistance training.
Locking Down The Core
The term “Core training” gets used quite a bit these days. Disciplines like yoga, pilates, and isometric exercise all promise to strengthen and stabilize the core muscles. Which causes many of us to raise our hands and ask: “What is a core muscle, exactly?”
The core muscles are the muscles of your abdomen and your lower back. These muscles are involved in just about every movement your body makes – from bodyweight bench presses to simply walking down the hallway. Your diaphragm, your glutes, your pelvic muscles, and other core muscles have a unified function. They all work to keep your skull, spine, and tailbone in alignment as you experience resistance anywhere within the body.
Since all muscular activity is going to derive from this central source, strengthening these muscles just makes sense. If you have elected to skip the gym and work out at home, here are a few things you can try:
- Crunches are used in almost every single workout routine for a simple reason: they work. Focusing on the “6-pack” muscles deep within the abdomen, crunches give great bang for the exercise buck.
- Planks look like someone taking a break during a set of push-ups. They are anything but that. Supporting yourself only on your toes and forearms not only hits your abs but also strengthens everything from your shoulders down to your calves. Try to do one for 60 seconds, and see what starts wobbling first.
- The “Superman” may look silly, but that’s why you are doing this at home, right? Lying on your stomach and then elevating your arms and legs as if you were flying through the air does marvelous things for your glutes and your back.
The Rest of the Muscles
Exhausted and ready to move on to something else? I thought you might be. Here are a few starting points for working the rest of your body without using weights:
- Think you need weights to feel the burn? Squats and wall-sits (pictured above) are really all you need to turn your entire legs into quivering mush. Try working up to holding these leg-killing exercises for 60 seconds at a time.
- Need tickets to the gun show? You need the push-up. It works your arms, your back, and your shoulders all at the same time. If you can’t manage a “normal” push up yet, try using a wall or counter top as the anchor point for your hands at first.
- To really focus on those arms, there is another weapon you can add to your arsenal: the triceps dip. All you need is a low couch or bench to sit in front of. Put your palms on the bench, then push yourself up until the arms are straight. Repeat the maneuver without letting your butt touch the floor. Do this to failure. Go throw up. Repeat.
- Though you will have already been working on your shoulders and back via application of the push-up, you can really blast your shoulders via the handstand push-up. Get a friend to help you the first few times you try this. Put yourself in a headstand against a wall with your hands shoulder-width apart. Push yourself up the wall, then return to starting position. You will fall over the first few times you try it – this is why you require some assistance to get it right initially.
Putting It All Together
Now, remember, these are just ideas – this is not an entire workout. For an entire bodyweight workout, I really recommend that you get some help from an outside source. If you have a Roku attached to your television, you are all set – dive into one of their fitness channels and don’t look back. Though many of them have a monthly subscription fee, it will be much lower than a gym membership.
Other sources of coaching are available on your smartphone. I personally used the FitStar app on my Android phone for months before I moved out of the house and into the local gym. Though I am not a paid endorser of FitStar, I highly recommend it – I loved the initial fitness test it put me through to determine where I should start my workout program. Plus, it had voice-over training work by Tony Gonzalez. Other football nerds will understand why this is important.
Again, the most important thing about an exercise program is to pick one that you will do consistently. There is a big world out there for you to walk or run in. The internet is full of potential workouts you can do at the gym or at home. You can use your Roku, your cell phone, a friend that works out regularly – just make sure you use something. Your dietary changes won’t mean a thing if you don’t add some muscular strengthing and calorie burning to your life. Get off your couch and get moving – every day you sit is another opportunity wasted.
“You Miss 100% Of The Shots You Don’t Take” – Wayne Gretzky
Can’t Top That Exit Line,