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Body-weight exercises: Lots of benefit with resistance of motion

Does a workout that offers cardio, strength training and flexibility exercises without machines or other equipment and doesn't cost anything appeal to you? Wait, it gets better. You perform the exercises in the privacy of your own home or wherever you happen to be. All you need is your own body weight to provide the resistance, and, of course, a dash of motivation. Let's get started.

Six reasons to work body-weight exercises into your exercise routine:

1 Freedom of movement: It adds variety to your existing workout. There are so many variations within body-weight exercises, preventing boredom and adding fresh challenges to the body. And they are easily adaptable to any fitness level.

2 More calories burned: Many of the movements involve compound exercises, which are multijoint movements that target several muscle groups at one time.

3 Mix and match: Short on time? Create a cardio/strength combo workout by performing one or two minutes of a "cardio burst" (jumping jacks, phony jump ropes) and alternating that with strength exercises.

4 Takes core exercises to a new level: Some of the most effective core strengthening movements are body-weight exercises that involve multiple muscles throughout the torso, all contracting and working together at the same time.

5 Increased flexibility: The exercises will take you through a full range of motion, loosening up the joints and improving posture; yoga is a good example of a body-weight-based exercise that encourages flexibility while developing strength.

6 Improves balance: You can add a "balance challenge" to many movements. An example would be to perform a one-legged squat instead of standing on both feet. Beginners may hold onto a support.

Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can't respond to individual inquiries. Reach her at

Begin with a light warmup to rev up circulation.

Basic Bridge: This exercise strengthens the lower back, abdominal muscles, glutes and hamstrings (back of upper leg). Lying on mat, knees bent (feet under knees), hands by your sides, contract abdominals and buttocks. Lift hips off floor, creating a straight line from knees to shoulders. (No sagging backs!) Hold position 30 seconds; beginners hold a few seconds, until strength is developed. An advanced move would be to extend one leg straight up or to knee level, keeping a straight line from shoulders to extended leg.

One-Leg Squat and Reach: This balance exercise strengthens the abdominals, glutes and ankles. Place an object on floor several feet in front of you, slightly to right of right foot. Balancing on right foot, bend knee, extending left leg to the back, lifting foot off floor. Keeping front knee over foot, lower torso while reaching forward with left arm, trying to touch object on floor. Pause, return to original position and repeat five to 10 times. Change feet position and repeat. To increase difficulty, perform barefoot.

Back Extension: This exercise targets the lower back and other core muscles. Lying face down on a mat, place hands on floor or behind head. Contracting abdominals, lift chest several inches off floor, holding a few seconds; lower, repeating eight to 12 times. To add intensity, lift legs several inches off floor while lifting chest.

Body-weight exercises: Lots of benefit with resistance of motion 11/27/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 12:19pm]
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