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Bodyweight Training: 2015’s Fitness Fad

The American College of Sports Medicine has announced the 2015 exercise trend and the good news is high intensity interval training (HIIT) is out of fitness fashion. This year is going to see an increase in gym rats stepping away from the traditional weights to embrace the benefits of bodyweight resistance training. This form of exercise is ideal for those breaking in to strength training or anyone looking to add variety to their daily workout routine.

Bodyweight resistance training involves movements and positions that use one’s own mass to build muscle instead of utilizing an outside force. Planks and push-ups are the most common forms of bodyweight resistance exercises in which a person lifts their own weight, engaging muscles traditional methods cannot reach. Once confined to those working off an injury, this training technique is quickly gaining popularity among mainstream gym fans and home bodies.

The benefits of bodyweight resistance training are extensive. Increased range of motion, flexibility and balance are common side-effects of moves such as the chair and leg lifts. This method is also easier on joints than packing on the pounds with weights and leads to overall improved core strength. Keeping rest time between exercises down increases your physical output which equates to less time necessary and more fat burned.

As with any workout fad, consider your own fitness situation before beginning a regiment. Bodyweight resistance training can be difficult for those with a skewed strength-weight ratio, such as someone who is too thin to have the muscle necessary to perform a sustained plank. The form of exercise, however, yields itself to modifications. For example, those who cannot do a full push-up can instead do half push-ups and receive the same benefits on a smaller scale.

You probably already know of several moves that constitute bodyweight resistance training, but in case you are at a loss for how to begin here are a few exercises for starters. This is one exercise bandwagon you do not want to let pass you by.

Plank – Core

13/1/09 carla pic david poole exercise number 1

Start on knees with elbows on the floor and forearms extended out front, hands flat on the ground. Extend legs back so you are holding yourself up on your elbows and arms while engaging your abdominal muscles. There should be a flat line from your shoulders to your heels; do not stick your butt in the air to create a “v”. Hold for 20 to 30 second repetitions.

Mountain Climber Pulls – Core

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Start in a plank position, then push off elbows so your arms are fully extended. Pull your right knee toward your left elbow in a cross-body motion, then return to the high plank. Switch sides by drawing your left knee toward your right elbow. Repeat 10 to 15 times each side.

Half/Full Push-Ups – Arms

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Start in a high plank position with hands shoulder-width apart and feet slightly parted. For a full push-up: bend your arms at the elbow and lower yourself without touching the floor. Extend to about three-quarters of the way up and avoid locking your elbows. For a half push-up: bend knees so they are on the ground and lift feet off the floor. Bend your elbows and lower yourself to the floor without touching it. Extend to three-quarters raised. Start with five push-ups per set, increasing in three to five repetition intervals. 

Reverse Bridge Dips – Arms

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Lay on your back with your legs bent so your feet are flat on the ground. Lift yourself up by putting your hands on the floor behind you with fingers pointed toward your feet. Raise your core further allowing for plenty of air between your butt and the ground. Bend arms at the elbow, lowering your butt in the process without letting it touch the floor. Extend elbows fully back to raised position. Begin with 10 to 12 repetitions per set.

Bridge – Butt

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Lay on your back with feet flat on the ground, arms by your side. Lift your butt off the ground, tightening glute muscles in the process. From your chest to your knees should be a straight, inclining line. Lower butt back to the ground. Repeat 15 to 20 times per set.

Donkey Kicks – Butt

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Kneel on all fours on the ground with head raised looking forward. Lift your right foot so your heel is facing toward the ceiling until you have created a straight line from your back to the back of your right thigh. Return leg to kneeling position and repeat on other side. Begin with 15 to 20 repetitions per side.

Jump Lunges – Legs

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Begin in a lunging position with one leg bent in front of you and the other straight back. Lift arms straight above your head and jump, switching your legs in the process so the opposite foot is now in front and the starting leg is extended behind you. Keep your arms extended with each jump. Repeat 10 to 15 times using one full cycle as a repetition.

Forward Leg Raises – Legs

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Stand up straight with your hands on your hips. Lift your right leg so it extends directly in front of you creating a 90-degree angle with your hips and upper body. Place foot back on the ground, alternating to the other leg. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions on both sides.

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