By Lauren Denos: 7/22/2015 (Fitness)

There is such a variety now days for exercising, It is wonderful. You can use tons of different machines, kettle bells, bosu balls, Swiss balls.. the list goes on and on. All of these pieces of equipment can be used for great benefit, but do not ignore the basics, what I am talking about is body weight training.

Why should you do body weight training? There are plenty of reasons. Some of the benefits of body weight training are:

#1 Body weight training uses only your body so you do not need to be at the gym, you can be anywhere. You can be in your house, back yard, park or beach, there is no limitation on where you can do them. In fact going outdoors with your exercise can be a great option since it gives you some different scenery.

#2 It forces you to learn good form and create better balance. Using machines can be very beneficial to people new to working out because they take much of the guess work out if it. You sit at a machine and you do what it says to do. When you are doing body weight exercises you need to actually make sure you are keeping proper form which includes proper balance and since much of that balance comes from using your core that means...You guessed it, a stronger midsection!

#3 Body weight exercises incorporates multiple muscles at the same time, therefore is is a very efficient way to exercise. For example when you are doing a regular push up you are using the chest (pectorals), the triceps, deltoids (shoulders), serratus anterior, coracobrachialis, and the abdominal muscles. All of these muscles were used in one exercise. This is one very good reason this type of workout is a very good choice.

#4 You can do high impact or low impact. You can alter body weight exercises for your level of fitness and intensity that you would like to have. You can do low impact such as a squat or a high impact high intensity version like a squat leap or a box jump. There are so many progressions available. For many people when they start learning pushups they may only be able to do wall push up, these are very gentle and will help someone who does not have much upper body strength get started. Then they could progress to push ups on their knees. Then some full pushups, then decline push ups and even handstand push ups. And those are only some of the progressions available on a regular push up. There is so much you can do to scale a body weight workout to what you need.

#5 Body weight exercises are inexpensive. You do not need to buy equipment and you do not need a gym membership. You can do them anywhere you want. Too many people say they don't have the money to go to the gym, well, that excuse is now invalid because you do not need a gym to get in a great workout.

#6 Many of these exercises are functional training. Functional training means that they prepare people for challenges they may face in their lives. And while in general just getting strong no matter how you do it could be considered functional because that strength could aid you in a number of things, what is meant by functional is that the movements could be used in daily life. Most movements we have to perform in daily life are not isolated exercises, meaning one muscle group at a time. It is usually many different muscle groups. This is why functional exercises use multiple muscle groups at the same time. As an example being able to do push ups may help you get up off the ground. Doing a squat can help you pick up your child without throwing your back out.

#7 A body weight routine is easier to fit into your schedule. Body weight exercises are ones that you can do whenever you have a few extra minutes. You can even do it watching TV or during commercial breaks. So that typical excuse of not having time is out the window. Next time you choose to watch TV, before hand select 3 or 4 body weight exercises and at every commercial break do as many as you can. If you do not know what you would start with then here is a list of a couple things you can do.

Some common and simple body weight exercises are:

Pushups

You start in a plank position. Your hands under your shoulders but slightly wider. You want your hands facing forward, think of your middle finger pointing straight ahead. When you go down you want to keep your arms in closer to your body verses letting them fly away. You can do these on your closed fists with your knuckles pointing out as well. This can be very helpful if you have weak wrists because it will put your wrists into a more stable position, it can also make it easier to keep your arms in close to your body verses them flying away like flapping wings. Keep your body firm. You should not have any movement in your midsection when you do this exercise, you do not want the midsection or the knees drooping. Keep your legs and glutes tight. This will help you keep your body strong and straight throughout the pushup. The only thing that should be moving is your arms, and your feet are your pivot point.

Dips

For this you can use a chair, a step, a workout bench, cement flower bed edges, or even a boulder. For the dip you want to keep your butt pretty close to the chair, not touching it but close to skimming. You will lower yourself down to where your upper arms are parallel to the ground or less depending on what you can do. Keep your elbows pointing back as much as possible, you do not want them flying out to the side. Then use your arms (not your legs) to press back up into the starting position. Always pay attention to how your shoulders and elbows feel when doing a dip. If they hurt your butt may be too far away from the chair, or you may be going lower than you should. If that is the case look at your form, if your form is good then shorten your range of motion by not going as low in the dip.



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