Body weight workout

By Andrew Stevens,Photography by Mel Koutchavlis

Body weight workout
These seven simple do-at-home exercises will help you increase your strength and tone up.

If you think you need an expensive gym membership to get fit, think again. All you need to tone up is you; using your body weight is one of the best ways to maintain health and fitness. The other benefit with this kind of workout is that it can be done anywhere – all you need is enough space to lie down and jump up.

Do these exercises in three sets of 20 repetitions (except the side brace), circuit-style, at a high tempo to get the greatest fitness benefit. To increase your strength, do three sets of 12 repetitions of each of the exercises individually, slowing down the movement to a three-second up, three-second down tempo.

Each of the exercises has a basic element that can be done by everyone and most have an advanced element that can be used by those with more experience. Don’t forget to consult your health practitioner before starting any new fitness routine. Click here for video footage of this workout.

1. Lunge

Start by kneeling on one knee, hands placed on the hips (A). Stay upright through your upper body and keep your core switched on. Using your back foot for balance only, push up hard through the heel of the front foot, concentrating on using the glute of your front leg, and stand up in an upright position (B). Without changing your split-leg position, lower yourself back to the starting position, being careful not to let the back knee touch the ground again. Throughout this exercise, make sure you keep your front knee in line with your front toe and your waistline level. ADVANCED: Do the exercise as a jumping lunge (C). Using the same set-up, explode off the floor, swapping your leg position in the air, then land softly with the opposite foot forward. 

2. Alternate Oblique

 Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. With your arms straight down by your sides, reach your left arm to touch the outside of your left ankle (A) and return to the start position (B). Without a pause, reach your right arm to touch the outside of your right ankle (C). Continue to alternate side to side. To increase the intensity of this exercise, bring your feet into the air with your knees bent at 90 degrees but still reach side to side, pretending to touch where your ankles once were.

3. Mountain Climb

Begin in a standard push-up position (A), hands under your chest (slightly wider than shoulder-width apart) and up on your toes. Keeping a very strong pelvic/lower back position, bring your right knee to your right elbow (B), then return it slowly back to the starting position. Then draw your left knee to your left elbow (C), and return it to the starting position. Try not to lift your bottom or allow your hips to drop throughout the movement. Also keep your body weight forward over the top of your hands.

4. Spider-man

 This exercise is the advanced version of the Mountain Climb. This time, start in a plank position (A). Elbows under shoulders and hands the same width apart as your elbows. Maintaining a neutral pelvis/lower back position, take your left knee out and around to the outside of your left elbow (B), and return it to the starting position. Then repeat with your right knee. Again, do not let your butt rise up or hips drop too low.

5. Split hand push-ups

The basic version of this exercise is a standard push-up. For the advanced, begin in your standard push-up position, then move one hand a full hand-size down towards your feet (A). With core engaged, bend both elbows and lower your body down to about a fist-size off the floor (B). Then, drive your body back up to the starting position. Don’t allow your hips to drop and keep your shoulders down.

6. Sit-ups

 Lay with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms by your sides. Roll your body up off the floor one vertebra at a time (A) until you have brought your torso into a full sit-up (B). Pause and lower down, unrolling one vertebra at a time. For a more advanced version, try the CrossFit sit-up. Lie on your back and put the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall out to the side (C). Do sit-up as above.

7. Side brace

Lying on your side, place your elbow directly below your shoulder. Place your feet on top of each other. Using your elbow, push up into a side brace. Keep the shoulder blade of the arm you are resting on back and down, your hip line vertical and top arm pointing straight up (A). If you find this easy, you can raise your top leg up until it’s horizontal with the ground (B). Hold for 20-30 seconds each side, every set.



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