Part of the current Holistic Hundred Challenge is doing 100 body-weight exercises every day! This might sound simple to some of you, but I would challenge everyone to try this, even if you are not doing the Holistic Hundred Challenge.
This time of year, lots of people spend a lot of money going to the gym. They have been lead to believe that in order to get in shape and build muscle, they must be in a gym with machines or free weights. Stand in line at the grocery store and you will see magazines with men and women on them with weights in their hand. I'm even seeing lots of billboards now with people liftting weights or using machines. But to most people, getting “huge” is not the goal and is not even necessary for overall health.
With that in mind, I recommend you try to start doing body-weight exercises every day. Below are a list of my top 5. Start off with 10-20 of each and try to consistently do them to the point where you can increase the quantity or add in variations.
The burpee may be the perfect body-weight exercise. It combines resistance training and cardiovascular conditioning in one exercise. I started doing them on a consistent basis when training for Spartan races last year and they kick my butt every time. No matter how many I’ve done.
Back when I had a gym membership, I would see people doing squats with a barbell or even on a machine. Most of them had excruciatingly bad form. To the point where they were going to hurt themselves. The body-weight squat is a great exercise to assess your strength, awareness and lower-body mobility. Squatting your body-weight may sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many people struggle with doing these correctly.
Push-ups are a great alternative to the bench press because a slight change in hand or foot position can hit the chest completely differently. They also recruit your quads, glutes and abs, you’re stabilizing your body as you push your own weight.
The plank recruits different types of muscles in order to properly do the exercise. You might think that it just works the abs, but when done correctly, it also recruits the quads and glutes to help keep your body tight in an efficient position. Planks help with core stability and balance, but they can also help with posture and lower back pain. Much like push-ups, there are several plank variations that you can use to increase intensity.
Out of every exercise you can do for your upper-body, the pull-up is the most efficient. You can purchase your own pull-up bar to hang on a doorframe (this is what I have), or you can use a beam in your basement (or office) or a jungle gym at a park. To ensure you’re getting the maximum results it is crucial to perform pull-ups in a controlled manner. Crossfit has lots of benefits (I'm using their videos in this post to show proper form), but the pull-ups used in their workouts (called Kipping pull-ups) are made for speed and can lead to injury. Do pull-ups in a very controlled manner. Up slow and down slow, avoid swinging your body. You can start by having your feet on a chair under you to assist if you can't do a pull-up the proper way when starting out.
The best thing about body-weight exercises is that they usually require no equipment and can be done just about anywhere.
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Wishing you optimal health and peak performance,