Feel energized and powerful by pushing your own body weight
Posted April 30, 2010
If your main exercise goal is being able to chase your grandchildren around the playground, you should definitely add some resistance training two or three times a week, making sure at least to skip one day between sessions to allow you muscles to recover. But many people will be discouraged by the thought of weight training, thinking it requires a gym membership and extensive instruction. That is simply not the case.
Remember: we can use our own body weight as the weight we are training with. Here are two exercises that are great to start with that cover your lower and upper body.
Squats This is a king of all resistance exercises because it uses a lot of muscles, including the quadriceps (front of thighs), hamstrings (back of the legs), glutes (butt), calves, lower back, and core. It’s really easy to execute properly. Actually, babies tend to have really excellent form— evidence that it’s a very natural exercise for humans.
Stand straight with feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Pretend you are sitting back onto a chair. Lead with your behind. Look straight ahead. I like to keep my hands clasped behind my head or extended straight in front of me (as a counter-balance). Descend in control until and go as low as you can go, at least until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Start slowly and work on your form. Don’t cheat and do a half-squat. Go low to get the most out of this exercise. Add additional weight later. If this is too easy with just your bodyweight, then congratulations...and add a powerful leap into the air as you ascend.
Push-ups This classic remains one of the best exercises of all time. Your chest, core and triceps are the main target areas. It’s a challenge no matter how fit you are. Women can begin with their knees on the ground. But as my sister says, never let anyone tell you that you can’t do what a man can do.
Place your hands slightly wider that shoulder width apart on the ground. Kick your feet back and form a straight line from the top of your head, along your back and all the way to your feet. Lower your chest to ground, almost touching it, and push yourself back to starting position. Good form has your elbows tucked closer to your sides, not flared out.
Start your resistance training with these two exercises and your body (and spouse) will thank you. You might feel sore a little in the beginning, but after a few weeks of challenging yourself, you will feel as if you’re ready to wrestle a lion...or at least, play with your grandchild in the playground.
Li Wang is a journalist, communicator and digital media enthusiast who wants more people to enjoy living a healthy life without having to think too much about it. His blog Wiser Health promotes simple and low-cost ways to stay healthy.