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The Beginner’s Guide for Body Weight Exercises

The Beginner’s Guide for Body Weight Exercises

Now that it’s March, most people tend to taper off their fitness New Year’s resolutions because the weight room is filled with torturous machines and people grunting and screaming. Additionally, the gym can be overcrowded, making it difficult to get a decent workout.

Here are a few exercises that will help you avoid the gym and challenge the entire body with the need for minimal equipment (if any at all). Make sure to warm up with a few stretches prior to beginning the routine to decrease the risk of injury.

Inch Worms

Step 1

Stand with your feet at hip width. Hinge forward at the waist and touch the floor with your palms. Bend your knees, if necessary.

Step 2

Walk your hands forward until you are supporting all your weight on your hands and toes. Your body should make a straight line and your hands should line up with your shoulders. Hold this position for 10 seconds.

Step 3

Walk your feet forward to meet your hands. Keep your palms on the floor and bend your knees, if necessary.

Step 4

Repeat the inchworm five times or until you get to a wall. Turn around and inchworm back in the opposite direction.

Planks

  1. Get in a push-up position, however instead of placing your hands on the ground place your forearms and elbows on the ground
  2. Your elbows should line up directly under your shoulders, and toes should be dug into the ground
  3. Squeeze your glutes and tighten your abs
  4. You should form a straight line from your ears to your ankles
  5. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds and increase time as it becomes easier
  6. To modify place your knees on the ground and keep your ears, shoulders, hips and knees in a straight line

Reverse Crunches

  1. Lie down on your back and lift your legs above your hips and point yours toes toward the ceiling
  2. If your hamstrings are too tight for this position you may bend your knees slightly to take the tension off your back
  3. Pick your bottom up off the floor so that your feet go straight up toward the ceiling and not toward your head
  4. Do this for 10 repetitions

Lunges w/ Sidebending

  1. Step forward with left foot and descend into a lunge.
  2. Bend your front left knee to 90 degrees (Make sure your knee does not move forward passed your toes), while reaching both hands above your head. Once you get to the bottom of the lunge sidebend your torso toward the left leg.
  3. Pause, then return to the starting position.
  4. Perform the same steps with the other side

Push Up's

Step 1

Begin on your hands and knees with your hands underneath your shoulders but slightly wider than your shoulders.

Step 2

Come onto the balls of your feet and the heels of your hands, and then walk the feet back until you’re in the plank position. Keep your hips lifted to avoid the lower back bowing so that the belly does not sag towards the ground.

Step 3

Begin to bend your elbows, lowering your body in one solid piece down towards the floor. Your elbows will bend out to the side, not behind you. Keep your abdominal and leg muscles engaged throughout the entire movement. Your head should stay in line with your spine; not droop.

Step 4

Lower yourself down until your chest is about an inch or two from the ground and then slowly push yourself back up to the starting position. Push through the heels of your hands in order to return to the starting position.

Tips

  • Don’t let your back sag down or your hips rise up.
  • To modify, start with your knees on the floor and your hips tucked.

Squats

  1. Keep the trunk upright, shoulders relaxed, and spine in a neutral position
  2. Set feet hips width apart with toes slightly pointed outwards
  3. Slowly lower your body down as you initiate the squat at the hip followed by the knees.
  4. Keep the core tight by filling your abdomen with air and pushing your belly button towards your spine. This protects your spine and creates increased stability into the lower back
  5. Drive your hips behind you to allow for the weight to be placed into your heels
  6. As you lower yourself, make sure you keep your knees lined up with your big toe and that your knees don’t buckle inward
  7. Having trouble keeping your knees from coming forward? Place an object in line with your knees as you are squatting and squat as if you were trying to sit in a chair behind you
  8. Continue to lower yourself down until your hips are roughly parallel with the floor
  9. Push up with your heels to return to the starting position and exhale

Horizontal Pull Up's

  1. Lie on the floor underneath the bar (which should be set just above where you can reach from the ground).
  2. Grab the bar with an overhand grip (palms facing AWAY from you).
  3. Contract your abs, and try to keep your body in a straight line. Your ears, shoulders, hips and ankles should all be in a straight line.
  4. Pull yourself up to the bar until your chest touches the bar.
  5. Lower yourself back down.

Some Tips and Tricks:

  • Don’t let your bottom sag
  • Don’t flail your elbows. Grab the bar with your hands a little closer than you would if you were doing a bench press, and keep your elbows at that angle from your body.
  • Pull the bar towards the middle of your chest.Don’t pull the bar up towards your throat, or down towards your belly button.  Right in the middle!
  • Keep your abs tight. Keep your abs tight throughout the whole routine.  Your body should be a straight line the whole time, and the only thing moving is your arms
  • Think of pulling your shoulder blades together at the top of the exercise.
  • Go all the way. Lower yourself until your arms are completely extended, and raise yourself until your chest touches the bar.
  • To modify bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor and keep your ears, shoulders, hips and knees in a straight line.

Things to Consider:

If you’re having pain or not feeling the exercise in the correct places, please consult a professional.

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Nicholas DeMonaco, PT, DPT
Nicholas is a fan of the major sports and roots for all Pittsburgh teams and the Los Angeles Clippers. He enjoys going the movies and also stays active by exercising, golfing and playing basketball. Nicholas especially enjoys spending time with his wife and family and looks forward to any opportunity to travel.