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Tuesday December 12, 2017

Body-weight Exercises for Busy Parents


Written by Ivan Dimitrijevic

fitness with familyYour average parent seldom has enough “me time” to just relax a bit with their significant other, let alone devoting themselves to an exercise regime, weight loss program or having a personal trainer scream at them on a daily basis. Let’s just say I know a guy whose wife would kill him if he left her alone with the kid for two or three hours to go to the gym and allegedly stare at young girls doing aerobics. Between work and the kids there is precious little time, and indeed very limited funds to devote to losing weight.

The economy isn’t quite what it used to be and there seems to be a great deal of pressure when it comes to providing education for your child, they start grabbing at your wallet and thinking up classes and programs as soon as the kid starts walking. Needless to say, we kind of worry about others more than ourselves, and we tend to let go over the years. You start realizing that some dieting and exercise are needed if you are going to stay healthy, and it won’t hurt to shape up to keep that love flame burning.

 

There is a way to get around gym memberships and buying specialized equipment, and that’s by simply doing exercises our ancestors used to do, using our own body-weight and our dear friend Mr. Gravity to provide resistance. Hell, there were no high-tech machines in ancient Greece or Rome, and those guys did pretty well when it came to physical fitness – people still use the Greek model of the ideal human measurements. And if you are overweight it simply means there is more mass to move around so your muscles will work harder and you will get in shape quicker. Here are the essential body-weight exercises.

Upper body exercises

 

classic pushupsPush-ups

My dad has a saying: “Push-ups are the poor man’s gym”. To understand the depth of this statement, we must first understand the versatility of the push-up. It is the ultimate upper body workout because it only takes some slight adjustments to cover a whole new muscle group, and boy do they cover a bunch of muscle groups. Let’s take a look at some variations:

 

Narrow push-ups – the hands are placed on the floor shoulder-width apart, the elbows are tucked in near the body, the back and knees are straight, counting to two you lower yourself and then another two-count when you push up. This will put more emphasis on the triceps muscle while mainly working the chest, and the shoulders will get a small amount of work as well

   

wide pushupsWide push-ups – this time the hands are placed wider apart, and the process is the same as above. More emphasis is put on the sides of the chest.

Raised legs/head stand push-ups– same position as before, only the legs are raised on a higher plane, eventually reaching the point where they are fully vertical as you get better and stronger. As the incline increases, more and more emphasis is put on the shoulders.

 

Wheelbarrow– the position is basically the same as in the raised leg push-ups, only someone is holding your legs and moving while you walk on your hands. It is a dynamic and very good exercise that strengthens the core as well as the arms and chest, but you do need a partner for this one.

Pull ups/Chin ups

For this one you will need a bar, but you can put a towel on an open door and do the exercise that way or improvise some other way.

There are two variations, for both you grab onto the bar and pull yourself up, but the hand position is a little different:

Standard– your palms are facing you when you grab and your hands about shoulder width apart, bend your knees when pulling yourself up and make it smooth, don’t jump of the ground.

Wide– your palms are facing away from you and the hands are spread out as far as possible when you grab, knees bent and you pull yourself up slowly.

Inverted row– for the beginner pull ups can be very difficult so this is an easy alternative. You can lie down beneath a table, grab the edge and pull your head towards the edge. It kind of looks like a reverse pushup and is a good way to build up strength in your back and biceps so you can move on to pull ups later.

chair dipsDips

These are excellent for triceps. You can use two chairs for this one. Put the backs of the chairs parallel to each other, leaving enough room in between for you to fit in. Place your hands on the top of the chairs, stiffen your arms and bend your legs, then lower yourself as far as you can and push back up again.

 

Core exercises

Sit ups

Lay on the ground (a simple folded blanket will save you a lot of discomfort here) and put your hands on your head, police arrest style. From here we have several options.

classic situpsBasic – bend your knees at a comfortable angle, your feet touching the ground, and then lift up, trying to reach the knees with your head.

Legs up– lift your legs in the air, straight or bent depending on what is easier at first, and then drive your upper body towards the thighs, keeping the legs in the air.

Reverse– this time your upper body is on the floor while your legs go back until your thighs reach your chest.

 

Superman

Lay on your belly, arms in front of your head, legs straight, and then lift both the legs and the arms up as much as possible. You will be touching the ground mostly with your belly. Hold the position as long as you can.

Bridge

This one is a little difficult at first but once you get a hang of it can do wonders for your back as well as stretching you out quite nicely.

Full version- lay down on your back, arms stretched above the head. Bend the arms at the elbows and place the palms of your hands on the ground, the fingers pointed towards your shoulders and bend the knees putting your feet on the ground as you would for a sit up. Now comes the tricky part – lift your but of the ground and push up with your arms so you form an arc (or bridge as the name suggests) with only the feet and hands touching the ground (although you can let your head touch the floor if it is too difficult) and hold the position as long as you can.

Easier version– this is called the shoulder bridge, you basically leave your hands at your sides and only lift your but of the floor, touching the ground only with the feet, shoulders and head.

 

Lower body exercises

bodyweight squatsSquats

It’s all in the name really – you stand straight with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart, then start bending at the knees while trying to keep your back as straight as possible.

Version 1 basic- you go down until your thighs are parallel to the floor and then back up, with your hands in front of the body.

Version 2 jumping- you stand with your feet apart, back straight and squat all the way down, as far as you can, then you jump into the air, raising your arms over your head. Once you land drop into a squat and then jump up again. 

 

Lunges

Basic- here you will stand in the same position as for the squat, only this time you will step out with the right leg and drop the knee of the left leg to the ground, then return to the starting position and step out with the left leg and touch the ground with the right knee. You continue alternating like this, two lunges counting as one repetition.

(pic: http://www.bestofyoutoday.com/sites/default/files/butt-lunge.jpg)

Side - same starting position only you step out to either side.

Horse stance

This is a popular tool for strengthening the legs and developing good balance. It is used in one form or another in most fighting styles, from wrestling to karate, kung fu and swordplay. The exercise sounds simple enough, but will burn your legs into shape. It will have you sweating of calories and losing weight in no time. Spread your legs far apart and squat half way down, like you want to sit on a stool, keep your back straight and hold the position for as long as you can. Don’t go too deep at first. Your legs will give out eventually, so make sure your hands are ready to contact the floor and bring you down safely.

The modern parent doesn’t have the money or the time to really focus on losing weight, weight which has steadily been building over the years when they weren’t looking. Many moms and dads have tried diets, counting points with Weight Watchers, the newest “wonder drug” marketed on TV, but weight loss is as much about burning of calories as it is restricting their intake and this is where everyone seems to be dropping the ball.

Let me tell you a simple truth – these basic body-weight exercises are the bread and butter of the fitness world. Stick to these exercises, do them daily or several times a week and once they become easier, just add some weight to provide greater resistance or go for more repetitions. Combined with a little running or long walks, and a less caloric diet, these exercises will shape your body into something new and sexy during the course of a year.  

 Author Bio:

Ivan Dimitrijevic is a blogger who writes on various topics. He enjoys to blog about health related topics such best home delivery diets. He has contributed to many health & wellness related blogs including http://www.weightlosstriumph.com/.

Ivan thinks that the healthy way of life is highly important, which is the foundation for his passion. He is married, with a daughter, and likes to spend time with his family.

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