Resistance training in one form or another has been used for centuries. The ancient Chinese warriors used it first pushing their body weight off the ground or hanging upside down and doing curls to pull their head up to their knees.
There are many exercises to keep us busy just moving body weight around.
All readers should see this to understand what I’m saying. It runs about 2 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQbe4jcqfEA
NONE of my readers are expected to go to this extreme of athleticism. But, this is the sort of exercise I have seen modern Shaolin martial arts students doing. They go a step further.
A partner fills a water bucket. The warrior student while hanging upside down takes the bucket, lifts up high enough to pour the water into a tank and then lowers himself. His partner refills the bucket and they repeat this perhaps 50 times. Amazing! A bit extreme for me and perhaps also for you. It makes my point that resistance training is nothing new.
For you at home resistance training can begin by lifting a book or two or three of them in a backpack or bag. Or several cans of food in one or two bags held while you do some squats, or even go for a walk with 5 kilos on your back. It all works.
The old standard pushup like this has been tested and proven for many years with great success. Build strength and shape muscle as you change arm positions. Costs nothing!
And if you get strong enough you can do more like this, push up into the air, clap hands and back down.
10 Bodyweight Exercises
To Do At Home
So, you don’t want to join a gym, or buy expensive exercise equipment for the home. Don’t fret as long as you have a den or living room floor. Bodyweight exercises are simple ways to work out without expensive machinery or equipment. From legs and shoulders to chest and abs, you can exercise every part of the body making them stronger and more flexible.
The Plank is often recommended. Some trainers say to take this position and don't move for a minute or longer. That is an "isometric exercise" and it has some effect but studies have shown that movement exercise (also known as "dynamic exercise" is more effective. I recommend dynamic exercise. Lower your pelvis to the floor and slowly raise it above the straight position as you saw in the first illustration. You can raise and lower your hips as you see in this illustration and I think you'll immediately realize you'll get better results.
Get into a pushup position on the floor. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders, and your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold the position for 25-30 seconds, then raise and lower your hips for 5 or 10 repetitions go add the dynamic component. Rest for a minute. We call that your first "set" of 5 or 10 "reps." Repeat and do the set again. Do 3 to 4 sets. According to your age and physical condition you might do this daily or every other day. Older people might do only 1 or 2 sets and rest 3 days then do it again.
For the prone walkout, begin on all fours with only your hands and toes touching the ground. With your core engaged, slowly walk your hands forward without moving your feet or toes. Now, walk your hands back to where you began without losing balance. Repeat for two to three sets.
Wall Sit Squat Exercise
Start by standing about 2 feet away from a wall with your back against the wall. Slide your back down the wall until your hips and knees bend at a 90 degrees angle. Keep the shoulders, upper back and the back of the head against the wall. Both feet should be flat on the ground with the weight evenly distributed. Hold for 25 – 30 seconds. Do 2 – 3 sets.
To start, place your entire right foot onto the bench, stool, or stairs. Press through your right heel as you step onto the bench, bringing your left foot to meet your right so you are standing on the bench. Return to the starting position by stepping down with the right foot, then the left so both feet are on the floor. Repeat with the right foot 15 – 20 times. Then, do the same for the left foot. Do 2 to 3 sets for each foot.
Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed and chin up. Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle, not pushed out too far, and make sure your other knee doesn’t touch the floor. Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position. Do 10-15 reps and 2 sets. Repeat the same for the other leg.
Stand with your head facing forward and your chest held up and out. Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, and turn your feet so toes point away from straight ahead to about a 15 degree angle. Extend your hands straight out in front of you to help keep your balance. You can also bend the elbows or clasp the fingers. If you have a lack of steadiness on your feet do this with your back very near a wall. If you feel like you're off balance you can lean against the wall to steady yourself.
Sit back and down like you’re sitting into an imaginary chair. Keep your head facing forward as your upper body bends forward a bit. Rather than allowing your back to round, let your lower back arch slightly as you descend.
Slowly, Lower your body down so your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible, with your knees over your ankles. Press your weight back into your heels. Keep your body tight, and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position.
Lie face down on your stomach with arms and legs extended. Keep your neck in a neutral position. Keeping your arms and legs straight (but not locked) and torso stationary, simultaneously lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling to form an elongated “u” shape with your body — back arches and arms and legs lift several inches off the floor. Hold for two to five seconds and lower back down to complete one. Do three sets of 12. This is very good for the full length of your back and buttocks. If you are familiar with Kegel exercises you can simultaneously squeeze the pelvic floor muscles for further beneficial strengthening in and around your reproductive system.
If you're not strong enough to do this yet, sit on the floor and place your hands, palms down, on the floor behind you. Lift and lower as much as you can manage. Do this every other day until you're strong enough to elevate your hands onto a heavy table, box, couch or chair or perhaps stair steps outdoors. Get seated with your knees slightly bent, and grab the edge of the elevated surface. Straighten your arms. and then lower again, and then repeat while your heels push towards the floor.
There are many types of pushups. This can begin with your knees on the floor until you are strong enough to do this basic pushup. Get into a high plank position. Place your hands firmly on the ground, directly under your shoulders. Lower your body. Begin to lower your body—keeping your back flat and eyes focused about three feet in front of you to keep a neutral neck until your chest grazes the floor. Push back up. Repeat as many times as possible. Do 2 or 3 sets.
This exercise is excellent for abdominals and several muscles in the front of your pelvis. Start by lying on your back with your arms at your sides and palms facing down. With legs extended, lift the heels off the floor (about six inches). Make quick, small up-and-down pulses with the legs, while keeping the core engaged. Try to keep kicking for 30 to 60 seconds. Do 2 or 3 sets.
There are many more body weight exercises that can be substituted for the ones above. If you don’t like the ones listed above, google and find some body weight exercises you do like. Have fun and stick with it!
Bodyweight Yoga Squat
Yoga Squat Exercise
Find more of this author’s advice here: https://kettlebellsworkouts.com/bodyweight-exercises/
This is a very natural exercise and many Asian women wash laundry in a tub this way or squat doing some gardening. It's a very healthy exercise to repeat for your legs and lower back..
All of these exercises qualify to be called resistance training and they will burn fat and thicken and strengthen muscle.
What about resistance bands for your fitness training?
Whether you are a beginner to working out, an experienced weight lifter, or recovering from an injury, there are always benefits to resistance bands. Among them, as I indicated in the last article here: https://sgshopper2030.com/more-recommendations-for-weight-loss-and-improved-physical-fitness-28-october-2021/
For resistance training you can use the big rubber bands. They fit into an apartment nicely. They're light weight so if you move they pack into a bag and go along for the ride. If you have no money for that, you have books or a container of rice and these can be held in your hands or placed into a bag or back pack and you can wear it or hold it while doing squats or anything else you try. You might have plastic jugs that once held juice or oil (ask a café owner if he has some to throw away. The jugs can be filled with water, then closed with their cap, and used as weights for training.
The resistance bands cost less than weights and if you make a mistake and one falls on you, no harm is done! Using bands, if you want additional resistance you add another band instead of another piece of lead or iron. The resistance increases as they stretch toward their limit and that benefits your strength development too. Bands are great to own and use!
TYPES OF RESISTANCE BANDS
Resistance Bands with Handles – These tube bands are primarily used for working out and building muscle strength and size. The handles provide a sturdy grip and allow for a variety of exercises, like what you might perform in the gym with free weights or machines. Stackable resistance bands use carabiners to allow the user to combine bands together to increase/decrease the resistance level as needed.
Resistance bands for home ore gym exercise available with handles and safe carabiner fittings.
I want to caution here, use the authentic resistance bands. DO NOT play around with Bunji Cord with their open hooks. I had a patient using a Bunji cord around a back pack. It slipped out of her hand and snapped doing serious damage to one eye. That became an historic surgery. Be thoughtful when using anything that can cause you to fall, or snap at you or fall on you.
Therapy Flat Resistance Bands – These are often found in therapy settings, such as a physical therapist or sports therapist offices. They are wide and flat, making theme easy to wrap around your hand and adjust the length easily, and can also be cut into smaller pieces or used to stretch. These bands are also used in Pilates programs for added resistance, and can be used for strength training.
Loop Bands – These bands are similar to therapy bands, but are smaller and form a closed loop. These are primarily used for strengthening the legs and buttocks. You will find these in resistance bands offer many benefits that standard weights can’t:
1. SAME MUSCLE ACTIVITY, LESS CHANCE OF INJURY
According to StrengthandConditioningResearch.com, training with elastics bands provides similar and sometimes even greater muscle activity as weight training. One major difference is that is involves a lower amount of force on the joints, which means that more stimulus can be provided to the muscles with less chance of injury. This is also good news for anyone with existing injuries or joint pain, because resistance bands may allow you to continue working out and performing exercises that you can’t with free weights like dumb bells.
2. GREATER MUSCLE STIMULUS
One major difference between free weights and resistance bands is the variable resistance applied through the full range of motion of an exercise. With free weights, there are actually parts of the movement when the muscles aren’t performing much work due to lack of gravity, such as at the top of a bicep curl. However, by comparison, when using resistance bands, The muscle is receiving greater resistance at its strongest point in the range of motion and therefore is receiving more adequate resistance to better stimulate strength adaptations.
3. STABILIZATION/CORE ACTIVATION
The constant tension from bands adds an element of required stabilization from your body to maintain form during many exercises. This also means that you will often need to activate your core for balance. The need to control them from snapping back into place means greater stimulation and strength through the muscle’s full range of motion, and the pull of the bands reduces your ability to cheat by using momentum.
4. IMPROVED STRENGTH & ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
Power resistance bands are extremely effective for athletic training because of their increased load, variable resistance, and instability. According to one study from TheSportJournal.org, “Experienced power lifters and strength and conditioning professionals have claimed elastic band resistance combined with traditional training produces strength gains for several years”. One test using elastic tension for back squats and bench press demonstrated that the bench press increase was doubled, and the back squat one rep max improvement was nearly three times higher after using bands. The resistance band group’s average lower body power increase was nearly three times better than the free-weight only group.
Research also shows that using bands with weights improves neuromuscular performance and strength more than weight training alone. These bands can also be used for speed and agility drills for various athletic purposes
5. ENJOY MORE EXERCISE OPTIONS
With dumbbells or barbells, you are limited to certain body positions in a vertical plane of motion to use the force of gravity. When using resistance bands, you can perform exercises in both the vertical and horizontal plane. For instance, you can do a chest press or back row in a standing position rather than having to use a bench. You can also perform sideways movements, ideal for athletic activities like swinging a baseball bat or golf club, as well as and daily tasks like opening a door or moving a box. This opens the opportunity to gain strength, and improved proprioceptive nervous system training. (Proprioception means you can maintain balance and you know where your hand or foot or head are – you know your body position --even with eyes closed.) So for example a dancer or martial artist could have a band attached to the floor and his foot. He can kick or do a dance movement and strengthen muscles involved in that movement. This can be done with inexpensive rope. No expensive steel equipment is necessary.
6. LOWER COST
Because you can perform a variety of exercises with one band as mentioned in the examples above, you don’t need weights and machines. At home exercise becomes convenient and far less expensive than a gym membership. As we grow older the modern exercise thinking recommends short “bursts” of exercise. So you could do some squats for 2 minutes and then back to your usual house work. A half hour later you can do some arm and shoulder work and then rest on the couch or take the dog for a walk. No cost, no dressing to go out, no traveling necessary.
7. IDEAL FOR REHABILITATION Therapy
Resistance bands and tubes have been proven to improve strength, size, and function of muscles in the elderly as well as those undergoing rehabilitation. Bands can provide very light or heavy resistance which can be used in targeted ways for specific muscles that also protects joints.
8. STRETCHING & MOBILITY
Any type of tube or flat band is great for both post-workout stretches, as well as pre-workout mobility work. Typically, you are limited during stretches by your level of flexibility and range of motion, and many effective stretches even require another person to provide pressure to the muscle. Instead, you can use bands to assist with stretching to extend your reach and provide pressure, such as with lying down hamstring stretches. Power bands are also excellent for mobility work when wrapped around a sturdy object, such as improving ankle and hip mobility for squats.
9. PERFECT FOR TRAVEL
It can be hard to fit in workouts or even find a gym when you travel. Bands are a perfect option to pack in your bag that allow you to workout in a hotel room or outdoors without heavy equipment. They won’t weigh down your luggage, but will still give you an effective, full-body workout. For this same reason, they’re ideal for bodybuilders and fitness competitors, as well as models who need to pump up their muscles prior to a show or photo shoot.
WHO SHOULD USE RESISTANCE BANDS?
After reading the benefits of bands, it’s probably becoming clearer that anyone can use resistance bands to reach their fitness goals. Here are some specific groups that should use them and why:
ANYONE TRYING TO GAIN MUSCLE
If you’re looking to gain muscle size and strength, you can use bands in place of dumbbells and machines to provide a new and challenging stimulus to your muscles for growth. You can also add them to barbell exercises to increase intensity and neuromuscular performance.
ANYONE WANTING TO LOSE WEIGHT
Losing weight is easiest when you combine a healthy diet, cardio, and strength training. Add bands to your workout routine, such as in a full-body circuit. This might look like doing a resistance band chest press, followed by squats with a band, followed by a back row with a band. This will burn calories and build muscle at the same time, which will help you to lose weight over the long-term.
EXCELLENT FOR TRAINING SPECIFIC MUSCLE GROUPS FOR BODY SCULPTING
Increase the size of your shoulders or arms or forearms or bust or develop a rounder “backside” (buttocks). You can work an particular muscle group for such purposes.
MATURE ADULTS GAIN GREAT BENEFIT using resistance bands at home
ADULTS PAST AGE 45
Adults over the age of 45, find their work, their schedule and their need for short exercise times between work activities preclude them going to a gym. Standard weights at the gym can be uncomfortable to use. They could be injured. Or perhaps they simply don’t want to be doing exercise among a lot of younger women or men or a mixed crowd. Some American gyms have shared locker rooms, shared showers, shared bodies…. That’s just NOT of any interest for older and less fit people. They don’t intend to join a gym for trysts with strangers. The entire idea for many is embarrassing at least and antithetical to their religious traditions and cultural heritage.
Resistance bands will permit them to maintain strength and muscle mass without over working and causing injury. I have injured myself several times working with weights and past age 40 and busy working, that’s not something one can so easily brush off. I worked as a combination Massage Therapist and Chiropractor and I worked vigorously on some big patients. For me to work on them while in pain from injury was not a good situation.
Research indicates that training programs using elastic tubes are a practical, effective means of increasing strength in adults age 50 and older, particularly the testing we’re talking about in this paragraph was for those over age 65. Johns Hopkins Medical School recommends resistance bands as one of the safest methods to increase bone strength and help prevent osteoporosis.
Bands help prepare athletes for movements in every plane, both to improve strength and power, as well as to prevent injuries. 2004 National Boxing Champion, Daniel Sanchez, says, “As an athlete, I learned that there is nothing better out there to make you faster and stronger then resistant bands. You can take them with you everywhere get a good work out no matter where you are - very important for my training, especially with my shadow boxing, punching speed and even toning with no weight involved. If I had to pick dumbbells or bands, I would choose bands every time.”
Exercise is important during pregnancy for improving energy, sleep, mood and preparing for childbirth. However, this is not the time to dive into an intense weight-training program. Resistance bands and high repetitions (15-20) are great for light muscle-toning. Using one light and one medium band will allow you to exercise all of your major muscles without strain.
Stronger resistance causes muscle growth. Weaker resistance helps maintain strength, shape and reduce weight.