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It is seen that having a well-built body often provides a sense of confidence in men. Even if the body isn’t chiseled to perfection, being fit enough to perform daily tasks and having a slim body can provide a sense of accomplishment. It is hard work and requires patience, devotion and regularity in exercising to achieve the desired level of fitness.
Excess weight problems: People who are more inclined towards the sedentary style of life might often find it difficult to get into shape or perform physical activities. People who have excess weight are advised to perform the physical exercise on a regular basis to maintain a fit body and a healthy lifestyle. Starting a workout routine with weight exercises for a beginner can be challenging and painful in the first few days due to muscle soreness.
Pandemic Situation: Although weight training helps increase the muscle mass quicker, with the current pandemic situation, one can do nothing but sit at home and wonder when the gyms might open or console themselves that they can start when it opens up.
Workout at home is becoming popular evermore with the celebrities becoming the face of inspiration to stay fit with simple exercises, even though one might seem like they’re stuck at home.
Exercise Objectives: Bodyweight exercises can be a good starting point to build up the fitness levels for beginners and they can inculcate a habit of regular physical activity. The aim is not to get ripped but to stay active and fit.
A bunch of exercises that are often also a part of the gym regime can be performed at home with minimal effort and time consumption.
Most of the exercises, be it bodyweight or additional weight training, emphasize on the posture and weight distribution in order to improve the strength of the targeted muscle. It is therefore important to focus on the posture, which will also help prevent unwanted injuries.
A list of these exercises are mentioned below with the method on how to perform them and might prove to be beneficial on the long run.
Being one of the most commonly prescribed bodyweight exercises might seem easy but it requires practice and consistency.
Targeted Muscles: There are numerous variations depending on the targeted muscle group that needs to be trained. The basic push up, however, targets the shoulder, triceps, chest, biceps and part of the back muscles.
Steps to follow:
• The posture involves spreading the hands at shoulder distance, placing the palm down, elbow folded with the body facing downwards supported by the toes.
• Once in the posture, pushup by applying strength from the targeted muscles, mainly from the shoulders, chest, triceps, and back. Push till the hands are in an extended position, thus applying the weight of the body on the arms.
• Slowly bend the arms to initial position, thereby moving towards the floor and maintain a gap between the body and the floor, preferably an inch. The body should be maintained in one straight line.
• Push up again with explosive strength and repeat the process, either by following a pattern advised of till one gets tired. The cycle of going down and pushing up counts as one repetition.
Breathing Pattern: Maintaining a proper breathing pattern is important to supply the body with the oxygen it needs. Inhale when going down and exhale when applying strength to push up. Proper breathing also helps perform more repetition.
Alternative: It can sometimes be hard for beginners to lift the complete weight of the body, hence one can opt to provide support from the knees and reduce the amount of weight on the arms.
This type of exercise needs a support, usually a bench in the gym, but the bed would also prove to be a sturdy support.
Steps to follow:
• Rest your body weight supported by the palms and the heels. Hands should be behind the body and the body should be placed at the edge of the support, such that it can lean down, while body weight falls on the palm.
• One can choose to keep the legs straight on the floor and dip down or raise the legs to a similar height as the resting hand to increase difficulty.
• Once you reach down, push up lifting the body from the support of the palm, but using more energy from the triceps.
• Going down and coming up is counted as one repetition, one can perform as many as they want or follow a routine.
Breathing Pattern: Breathe in every time you go down and breathe out when pushing up.
Targeted Muscles: The load is directed mainly towards the triceps muscles and some amount of load falls on the shoulder and the back muscles.
When lower body training comes to mind, squats are always a part of the plan. It is fairly easy to perform and requires less effort.
Additional weight: Squats can be performed with weights like dumbbells, if the bodyweight isn’t difficult enough.
A variety of variations are also available including single leg squats and jumping squats.
Steps to follow:
• Split the legs, maintain one feet distance between them. Bend the knees and squat down trying to maintain the upper body in a straight position.
• When squatting down, ensure that the angle at the ankle between the foot and leg is almost 90˚ and the angle at the knee is also 90˚.
• Ensure that the knees don’t go beyond the toes and do not sit down completely, maintain the 90˚ angle. This forces the load on the lower and upper thigh and the buttockmuscles.
• After squatting, push yourself up back to standing position, this is counted as one repetition. Keep repeating according to the fitness plan or till exhaustion.
Breathing Pattern: Remember to set a breathing cycle, breathe in when squatting down and breathe out when pushing up.
Precautionary Measure: Maintaining a proper posture while performing this is important to distribute the load where it is required. Improper posture can lead to injuries which might cause pain and sometimes may take a while to heal.
Targeted Muscles: This exercise is targeted towards the calf muscles and is fairly easy to perform.
Steps to follow:
• While standing straight, place the feet completely down from heel to toe. To initiate the exercise, raise the heel from the floor, thereby diverting all the weight on the toes, which will stretch the calf muscles.
• After extending up, while coming down, ensure that the heel doesn’t touch the ground, to keep the muscle under tension.
• Raising the heel and coming down is counted as one repetition and a good 30 reps should be enough for a positive start.
• One can also add weight additionally, to increase the intensity as it is often very easy to do calf raises.
Targeted Muscle: Plank plays a major role in creating core strength and is fairly easy to learn. It also helps reduce belly fat in obese people.
Steps to follow:
• The posture involves balancing the body weight on the elbows and laying the forearm flat on the ground. The body needs to be maintained in a straight line with toes being the secondary support.
• Once in the position, the stomach or abdominal muscles and the glutes need to be tightened and held in that manner for a predetermined amount of time or however long possible.
• Beginning with a 30 second timer is enough and it can be slowly increased to over a minute or more.
Benefits: Plank applies pressure on the abdominal muscles, the lower back and the glutes. It helps create flatter abs without putting much pressure on any other part of the body.
Variations: Plank also has a few variations like the side plank where the body is supported to the side with the support of a single elbow.
One of the most important exercises to build a fantastic set of abs, they come in many varieties depending on the difficulty one needs.
Steps to follow:
• Standard crunches can be performed by laying down with the back on the floor, and folding the legs with the bottom of the feet on the ground, the knees forming almost 45˚ angle.
• Hands can either be placed on the sides or crossed behind the neck for support.
• The exercise involves lifting the upper body off the ground slightly and using the abdominal muscles to do so.
• By forcing the abdomen muscles to pick up the body weight, when the upper body is lifted, the abs are squeezed creating a contraction.
• Each squeeze or raise is one rep and it is fairly easy to perform many reps before failure.
Variations: Another variation called sit ups, involves raising the body completely off the floor so that the nose can touch the knees. Side crunches are similar to crunches but involve side to side movement to touch the toes.
This is one of the easiest and most beneficial exercise for the body. It is often neglected thinking it is too easy and does not provide much exertion.
Steps to follow:
• One only needs a skipping rope as an accessory. While standing straight, hold the rope in your arms and start rotating it from behind.
• As it reaches forward, make a jump to let the rope pass under the feet and repeat the process.
• Every jump is counted as one repetition, and one can opt to jump high or low.
• Continuous jumping can help elevate the heartbeats and is a good alternative to other cardio exercises like jogging, running or cycling.
Variations: There are a few variations that can prove to be very difficult for a beginner like the double skip, but with practice it can be achieved.
Targeted Muscles: Another form of body weight lower body exercise, they are quite effective in improving the cardiovascular system and also put pressure on the leg muscles.
Steps to follow:
• Lunge with one leg forward maintaining 90˚ angle at the knee, while sitting downwards till the leg behind(knee) almost touches the ground, reaching a 90˚ angle.
• One repetition includes going down and coming back to the initial position. After each rep, the legs are switched, the forward leg goes behind while the lunge is initiated with the leg that was behind earlier.
• This switch can be performed either after reaching the initial standing position or by jumping and switching the legs mid-air.
• Lunges are a bit difficult initially and might need practise to maintain balance. Inhale every time while going down, and exhale while pushing the body up. Continue this cycle for as many reps as needed or follow a pre-existing plan.
Variation: Lunges can be performed using one leg at a time or with a jumping variation to switch legs. Walking lunges are also a good option if there Is enough room to walk. One can also use weight in both hands to increase the intensity.
Health Benefits: This is one of the exercises that are often part of the high intensity workouts to improve cardiovascular functioning, increase endurance and to burn more calories.
Targeted Muscles: This is a whole body exercise and if performed correctly, it will help activate the core, shoulders, triceps, chest and the legs.
Steps to follow:
• This can be very difficult to perform for a beginner. Regularity however will help increase the reps and improve fitness.
• This exercise involves two phases. When beginning from a standing position, stretch the body downwards to reach the push up position with the feet parallel to the ground, stretch the abdomen towards the ground, supporting the body with arms, palms facing the floor.
• After stretching the abdomen, pull the legs back towards the arms then raise the arms off the floor upwards. With the arm raised, perform a jump. When landing on the feet from the jump, stretch the legs backward to the push up position.
• One repetition involves jumping and stretching on the floor. Try to use the abdominal muscles to contract when moving the feet back towards the arms.
Health Benefits: They are very easy to perform and prove to be efficient in helping the cardiovascular system.
Steps to follow:
• It starts by standing upright and then jumping to create an inverted “V” by spreading the legs out. At the same time, the hands should be stretched out straight at shoulder level or can be raised above the head. Then another jump initiates the return back to standing position.
• Each stretch and return, to initial position is counted as one repetition.
• Since they don’t require much effort, they can be easily performed at home and with ease.
Breathing Pattern: While jumping and stretching, one can breathe in and while jumping back to the initial position, one can breathe out.
Most of the accidents that happen at home during exercises are due to lack of space or carelessness. They can be easily avoided by following simple exercise safety measures.
• It is important to stretch before performing exercises, be it in the gym or at home.
• If the muscles aren’t warmed up properly, they can be prone to accidents and might cause immense pain, while also taking time to recover.
• Simple stretches for the joints and some muscles are more than enough.
• Calf muscles often need stretching before calf raises. Performing the exercise without stretching can cause cramps in the calf muscle which can be immensely painful.
Maintain a proper posture: for some of the exercises is important. When training with additional weight, there are good chances that weight displacement to other parts may cause severe injuries. Slip disc is one of the most common injuries associated with back exercises.
• Working out at home can be also be dangerous. When performing push ups, the posture is important, as wrong posture can divert the load to the wrist causing a ligament injury.
• Another important aspect would be ensuring ample space when exercising. Impact on body parts from furniture is more common when performing home exercises and can often leave you unable to exercise for a few days.
Ligament injuries: can occur in the ankles during squats and lunges unless performed properly. Ankle can also sprain in case the landing is not proper when performing jumping lunges.
Strain: While performing crunches, people often apply pressure from their hands on the neck, to lift up the body, which can cause pain in the neck. Improper stance also causes pressure on the lower back.
Keep Breathing: Always remember to maintain a proper breathing cycle. Without proper breathing, one will get exhausted faster due to reduced oxygen to the muscles.
Many studies have been conducted on exercise and their benefits to human life. Some of the facts from these studies as available on NCBI website, are mentioned below.
Physical activity has shown reduction in the risk of death by 20-35% in both the sexes.
A 44% reduction in the risk of death was noted in people who switched from being unfit to fit over a period of 5 years.
There was a 52% increase in all-cause mortality, doubling of cardiovascular related deaths and a 29% increase in cancer related deaths in middle aged inactive women who performed less than an hour of physical activity a week, when compared to physically active women.
By burning 1600 kcal a week, the progression of coronary heart disease was observed to be halted. Expenditure of 2200 kcal a week showed reduction in plaque in patients suffering from heart diseases.
Exercise also largely helps with diabetes. Patients with diabetes who were inactive, saw a 1.7-fold increase in premature death compared to physically fit patients suffering from diabetes.
By an additional expenditure of 500 kcal every week, there was a decrease in the incidence of type-II diabetes by 6%.
• There was a 30-40% reduction in the risk of colon cancer for physically active men and women.
• Physically active women also saw a 20-30% reduction in breast cancer compared to inactive women.
• Another study revealed a 26-40% reduction in cancer related deaths in active women.
Weight related exercises also improve bone density. Studies revealed an increased bone mineral density in people who performed resistance training as well as in athletes who were involved high intensity sports.
Another study on both post and pre-menopausal women showed that exercise prevented or reversed almost 1% of bone loss per year in the lumbar spine and femoral neck.
Regularity in exercising can delay a lot of fatal diseases and one can enjoy and healthy life and an active lifestyle. A routine can translate into a fruitful habit for life and help training more rigorously to gain strength.
Starting one day earlier still keeps you ahead of somebody who hasn’t started yet, which makes you more fit and it is an achievement in itself.
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