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12 Days of Fitness 2017: Day 7 – Minimalist Fitness

December 16, 2017 0 Comments

(This is part 7 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Two common barriers for people who want to exercise and get in shape are a lack of time and money needed for fitness. Who has the time to go to the gym, or buy expensive equipment, or take long bike rides? Well, if those are the things stopping you, you’re in luck. It takes no equipment to get a great workout and get in shape, and with one or two pieces of simple equipment, you can turn that great workout into a fantastic one. And with little or no equipment required for a fantastic workout, you can do it at home, or wherever you are.

The Pros and Cons of Bodyweight Exercises

Using just your bodyweight, you can do a large number of challenging exercises. If you add just one or two pieces of equipment: a dumbbell, a kettlebell, a jump rope, a medicine ball, or a chinup bar, for example, you can increase the challenge even more. This is not to say that lifting weights should be replaced, but there are tremendous benefits from bodyweight exercises as well. No gym fees or need to buy expensive equipment. You can do the workout anywhere, anytime. Most exercises involve many muscles working in coordination, resulting in great overall fitness and strength. For people who are just starting with strength training, bodyweight is often more than enough to begin with. And it gives you a good foundation of strength you can build on later. Bodyweight exercises aren’t the only thing you should ever do, however, for several reasons:

  • After awhile (a couple months perhaps), they aren’t all that challenging. You’ll need to continue to build your strength by adding weights. You can do that with some simple equipment .
  • If you don’t have at least one or two pieces of equipment — a chinup bar or a resistance band perhaps — some muscles don’t get worked out as much as others. That’s not a problem over the short term, but over the long term you’ll want to make sure you get a balance.

I suggest starting with bodyweight exercises, and then slowly transitioning to a combination of bodyweight and weight training to get a good balance. And even if you’re doing a complete weight training program, you can always use bodyweight exercises anytime you can’t make it to the gym.

A Sample Workout

Here’s a sample workout that you can begin with to either replace or augment your current routine.  It’s just a collection of exercises that use compound muscles and joints to give a total-body workout with nothing but bodyweight.

  • Pushups. As many as you can. Do modified pushups if you can’t do full pushups, with your knees on the floor. If those are still too hard, do wall pushups, leaning against the wall or a chair.
  • Jump squats. Basically you squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then jump up as high as you can, and repeat.
  • Bicycle crunches. Lie on the floor with both knees bent and arms interlocked behind your head. Lift and extend both legs and then alternately bring the knees into the chest while turning the elbows towards the opposite knee.
  • Jumping lunges. Assume a lunge position with both knees bent to 90°. Jump up and switch position of both knees.
  • Burpees. From a standing position, jump both hands to the ground. Forcefully kick out both feet to a high plank position. Hop both legs forward and stand into a jump.
  • Diamond pushups. A push up with your hands closer together in a “diamond”

A Few Suggestions

Choose a variety of exercises that work out all the parts of your body. You should be doing some pulling exercises (like pullups), some lower-body exercises, like lunges and squats, and others that work out all of your body, like burpees. If you want a real challenge, mix cardio exercises with the strength exercises. If you have some of the equipment listed below, definitely use them. You can get a great workout without equipment, at least for awhile. If you’re just starting out, take it easy and gradually build up. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t overdo it! As you get stronger, gradually add weights. Dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and medicine balls are some good ways to do that. It’ll take a couple months of bodyweight exercises, though, before you really need to move to weights.

See you tomorrow for Day 8 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Exercise
Day #2 – The Dangers of Dieting
Day #3 – The New Rules to Strength Training
Day #4 – How to Stay in Shape When You’re Busy
Day #5 – How Natural is “Natural Flavoring”?
Day #6 – Understanding Food and Nutrition Labels

 

About the Author:

Jeff Harrison is a fitness coach based in Pottstown, PA. He received a BS in Exercise and Sport Science from Penn State University and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist (ACE-AHFS). Jeff's articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as consumer oriented websites and magazines.

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