Your Body: Your Best Fitness Equipment

By: ROXANNA COLDIRON

Edited by: KELSEY CRUZ

You’ve heard strength training is one of the best ways to tone your body, but you’re always on the go. Between school, work, and your internship, it’s often hard to get to the gym. But did you know the best fitness equipment isn’t in a multimillion-dollar facility or collecting dust in your basement? The best fitness equipment is something you carry around with you every day – your body.

“Body weight training is functional training,” says Matt Kimmich, a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)-certified personal trainer. “It allows your body to balance and stabilize on its own, and you don’t need any added equipment.”

Unlike most fitness equipment, body weight training provides a more holistic approach to building muscle.

“A push-up incorporates multiple muscle groups,” Kimmich says. “You’re recruiting muscles in the chest, shoulders, and triceps to do the actual motion while other muscles – like the abdominal and oblique muscles – stabilize your position.”

To get the most out of a body weight workout, Kimmich advises increasing your repetitions and intensity level to make up for your lack of resistance. He also stresses the importance of proper form and technique for the prevention of injuries.

One of the best ways to intensify a body weight workout is to add dynamic movement. Burpees, for example, incorporate dynamic movement by blending low squats with push-ups in a circuit.

“Turning your workout into a circuit is a great method to make your exercise more challenging and more aerobic,” Kimmich says. “Basically, don’t stop. Just go from one exercise to another.”

Always on the run? Try these workouts before you hop in the shower or on your next business trip:

  • Push-ups – Lie down and lift yourself until your body is parallel to the floor, and your back is straight. From that position, use only your arms to push up. On your way back to the floor, keep your back straight and your core tight.  Leave a few inches between your stomach and the floor before you push up again. “There’s nothing more effective than the push-up,” Kimmich says.
  • Chair squats – Grab a chair, squat over the seat as if you are going to sit down, stand up, and repeat. “A variation,” Kimmich says, “is to do the one-legged squat. Do equal reps on each leg.” This adds more resistance to your quadriceps and hamstrings by placing all of your weight on one leg at a time.
  • Back exercises – Personal trainer Erich Funke, who has a BA in Exercise Science, strongly advises incorporating back exercises into your routine. “Your back is important for posture,” he says. For a thorough list of back exercises, visit The Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma (NISMAT) website here.
  • Burpees. Start in standing position. With your legs hip-width apart, bend your knees and lower yourself to the floor. Take plank position and do a push-up. Reverse the exercise until you’re back on your feet again. Women’s Health magazine’s web site has a proper illustration here.

“Live a life full of activity,” Funke says. Use your best exercise equipment (your body!) to prevent your busyness from trumping your fitness goals. Get fit, get life.

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Categories: Your Fitness, Your Health News, Your Lifestyle

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