There are now countless exercise machines and equipment in existence, as well as numerous specialized workouts and training plans that utilize all kinds of extra gear, weights, and whatever else is needed to do them properly.
Despite all of the different ways one can exercise and workout, the most simplest and primitive tool you have available is your own body weight.
In fact, when done correctly, using your own body weight can be just as effective as all of the other exercises and methods out there that use various gear and equipment. This can not only allow for you to exercise away from a gym, but also save yourself money and hassle from acquiring home gym equipment others may suggest you need.
With just a few items around your house, and the right knowledge, you can put together an efficient and useful exercise routine that touches on all the main focus areas of your body, whether you are trying to tone our shape or build muscle.
Here are three of the best ways to build muscle & strength with bodyweight exercises.
Perhaps the most well-known bodyweight exercises of them all, push-ups are extremely effective in working out various parts of your upper body all at once, and they can be tweaked and changed in numerous ways to increase both difficulty and targeted muscle areas.
When doing push-ups, form is everything. If you are lazy or lackadaisical in your form, your push-ups will not only be less effective, they could even put strain on your muscles and contribute to injury, so be sure to be strict with your form and posture.
- To do a proper push-up, get down on the floor, and place your hands palms-down, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your legs extended behind you, and your feet resting facing downwards.
- Be sure to keep your body in a straight line, and avoid letting your midsection sag towards the ground or sticking your butt up in the air. Keep things flat.
- Angle your head to be facing slightly ahead of you, as opposed to facing straight down. Straighten your arms and allow them to fully support all of your weight. You are now ready to begin.
- Using just your arms, lower your yourself towards the ground, keeping your chest parallel to it. Once you are within a few inches, slowly raise yourself back up.
There are several ways to increase or decrease the difficulty of your push-ups.
If you’re having trouble doing them properly, you can opt to do them from your knees rather than your feet, and move your arms outwards slightly. If you want to increase difficulty while targeting different muscle areas, move your hands more towards the center of your body.
Doing push-ups on your fists provides a more difficult test as well, but be sure that you have enough padding under them. If you have a portable step or low-sitting chair, you can place your feet up at a higher angle, which works your arms and shoulders even more.
Wearing a backpack with weights in it is another simple way to add more resistance and weight to your body.
Pull-ups are another popular bodyweight exercise, as they can be done anywhere you can install a simple pull-up bar. There are actually several pull-up bar products available now that can can be easily suspended from any standard doorway and removed in a matter of seconds.
Pull-ups are extremely effective in building upper body strength, with a big emphasis on the shoulders, chest, and arms. Different grips can affect the difficulty, such as facing palms inwards or outwards, and how far your space your hands apart.
Facing your palms outwards while spacing your hands close together results in a much more difficult pull-up that you may have to work towards if you aren’t strong enough initially.
Pull-up and Push-ups certainly help with upper body strength, but what about your lower body? Squats are one of the oldest known bodyweight exercises that focus on developing both core and lower body strength.
As with push-ups, focus on form is key, or you might find yourself with some unpleasant muscle strains.
- Begin your stance by standing with your head facing forward and your chest facing out. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, or a bit more if that’s more comfortable. Extend your arms and hands directly out in front of you, as this helps with your balance.
- To begin, the actual squat, sit back as if you’re sitting down into an invisible chair. Keep your head looking forward as your upper body slightly bends forward. Allow your lower back to slightly arch.
- Lower yourself down towards the floor, and keep your thighs parallel with the ground as best you can while keeping your knees over your ankles. Shift your weight back into your heels.
- Keep your body tight, and lift off of your heels to raise yourself back to your original position.
Here’s a video example if you need a better visual. If you are first starting out, go through three sets of 10 reps, and add more reps as your strength increases.