Fitness comes in many forms — cardio health, strength and toning, better nutrition or a combination of all three. If you’ve been naughty for a few weeks (or more!), one key ingredient in a speedy recovery to a better body is a making a full-body weight workout part of your routine. A full-body weight workout will get you back in shape because it will help you to gain strength, balance and prepare you for daily activities. It also has the advantage of being performed in many places, such as the gym, office or at home, so there are no excuses to not accomplishing your goals! Success in strength training depends on lots of things: intensity, consistency, variety and safety. (That’s why a trainer is a good idea!) But, for a solid start on your New Year’s fitness resolutions, you can start performing one set (a “set” is a group of repetitions) of each of the following with a few reps, then add more as you feel comfortable.
Before starting your workout, it is very important to prepare your body with a dynamic warm-up. This will help you increase your core temperature and raise your heart rate, as well as prepare your body for the exercises you are about to perform. The following dynamic warm-ups are simple cardio exercises that will get you ready to go: Let’s start working on our New Year’s resolution, a new body!
(do three sets of the following):
— Jumping jacks: 30 seconds to 1 minute
— Push-ups: 10 repetitions
— Arm circles: 10 reps (forward and backward)
— Butt kick: 30 seconds to 1 minute
— Lunges: 12 repetitions
Now use the following workout as a basic framework for a better body in 2012.
Full Body-Weight Workout
— Body-Weight Squat: Place your feet wide apart, toes facing forward, arms extended out in front of you for balance, neutral spine or flat-back posture. Now push your hips back and lower your body as low as you comfortably can. Go up and back down in the same manner. Be sure your heels don’t come off the floor and that your knees stay aligned with your toes while you are in the down position.
— Body-Weight Prisoner Squat (variation): Place your hands behind your head, and do the same movement as a regular body-weight squat. Once you master this exercise, you can perform jumping squats, which helps add power to your legs and boost your testosterone levels.
— Standard Push-Up: Who hasn’t done a push-up in his or her life? It is one of the most popular body-weight exercises and, when performed well, will give you excellent results! It is also a good way to test your upper-body strength. Get into push position. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe. Arms should be straight and slightly wider than shoulder-width. Keep your feet close together; tighten up your butt and core. Then, lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor; make sure your upper arms form a 45-degree angle when your body is at the bottom position. Then push back up to the starting position. Don’t drop your hips and keep your head aligned with your torso at all times.
— Wide-Stance Push-Up, Diamond Push-Up and Staggered Push-Up (variations): Wide-stance push up: Open your arms a bit wider than a regular push-up and do the standard push-up movement. Diamond push-up: Place your hands close enough together, forming a diamond with your thumbs and forefingers, and do the standard push-up movement. This type of push-up will make your triceps work harder. Staggered push-up: Place one hand in a standard push-up and the other hand a few inches farther forward and do the standard push-up movement. This type of push-up also helps to strengthen your core and shoulder muscles.
Pull-Ups: Grab a pull-up bar with your hands shoulders-width apart. With an overhand grip, pull your chest up toward the bar, squeeze your shoulder blades together and then slowly lower your body to the start position. Do 12 sets of one repetition, resting 30 seconds in between, until you gain enough strength to do more reps in a set. Tip: Imagine you are pulling the bar toward your chest, instead of pulling your chest toward the bar.
Crunch: The core is the center of your body strength. A strong core makes every exercise easier and helps to stabilize your spine. Your core muscles also include muscles from your lower back and hips. Start strengthening your core with a simple exercise: crunches. Crunches can be performed anywhere and at an time, but they require a certain technique. First, lay on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your fingertips behind your ears and pull your elbows back. Raise your head together with your shoulder blades and crunch your rib cage toward your pelvis. Pause and then go back to the starting position. It’s very important to focus on your breathing. Inhale at the start position and exhale when you crunch and don’t pull your head forward.
Now, get a paper and a pencil and write down your fitness goals. Give yourself 30 days to see results. Be realistic with your goals and don’t stress if you have not reached the results you wanted in your first month of working out. Remember, you must be flexible but consistent in your workouts and create a habit for exercising. Also, know that these body-weight workouts are the beginning of your next level — consider it a warm-up for free-weight lifting. Happy New Year and happy new you!
Noe Espinosa is a registered personal trainer at 12th Street Gym. To learn more about Noe and more than 30 other top trainers at 12th Street, visit www.12streetgym.com.