Jacob is a C.P.T. (Certified Personal Trainer) with NASM-(National Academy of Sports Medicine) "Excellence is earned through discipline."
Your Health Is a Priority!
As someone who's been on both sides of the fence, maintaining your health can be a true challenge. I've been the thin, average looking guy, I've been the somewhat overweight guy who eats too much at every meal, and everywhere in between. If my own fitness journey has taught me anything, it's that your health is one of the most important things you have in your life, and one of the easiest to take advantage of. When you feel great it's easy to get yourself off track with the logic of "Oh I'm in pretty good shape, I can miss a workout or two!" Before you know it, it's been months since you've worked out and don't know where or when to start.
Busy, Busy, Busy!
I get it, sometimes in life we don't have time to do all the things we love. As much as I'd enjoy being able to spend hours in the gym every night, when it comes to my day after work, cooking, and taking care of my loved ones, it can be hard to scrape together a few minutes. Much less several productive hours spent in the gym. I have good news though! You don't need hours, just a few minutes and the will to improve.
That's right! Tried and true, push ups are one of the best ways to develop strength and endurance in the upper body. They will mainly work your shoulders, triceps, and chest! That's not all though, this classic exercise makes use of your entire body from the static posture you must hold while performing them.
The picture right above this paragraph displays good technique for the movement, keeping your arms at a 45 degree angle to the body, making sure your body is forming a straight line from shoulders to toes! (Yes, that means no lifting your butt in the air or letting your lower back sag to towards the floor.)
Possibly the best thing about this exercise is it's accessibility, anyone can do it with some possible modifications literally anywhere that you can stand! This is one movement that definitely deserves your attention.
When many of you picture squats in your head, maybe you picture an Instagram model showing off their gains or a muscular guy with a bar on his back straining for his life, but squats aren't just for those people. They're for you!
Done correctly, squats are widely considered one of the best favors you could do your legs. They'll work your thighs and lower legs, and even your core a bit, strengthening and toning the areas up. The best part? You can do them anywhere, as long as you have room to stand and walk, you've got room to squat. Mix them into your workouts in between upper body exercises to improve circulation! If you work them into your routine you might just notice that stairs aren't so bad anymore, that knee pain has gone away, and you feel an extra little spring in your step! Do squats.
The last basic exercise I'll be discussing today, and the only one that requires any form of equipment! The pull up!
This is by far, the favorite upper body exercise of many fit people. From cross-fitters to mixed martial artists, and even our military branches put a high priority on this particular movement--for good reason too!
This movement is sometimes referred to as the "squat" for the upper body. This is because there are few other ways you can exercise your back so effectively, and since it's your own body-weight you're working with, if you're heavier that just means you'll gain that much more by doing them!
After a good set of pull ups you'll notice it's not one thing that gets sore, you'll feel it in your back, your abs, forearms and upper arms! You'll realize just how much work is getting done by getting your chin peaking out above that bar! Now I realize not everyone has a pull up bar, but that's okay! Be creative! If you're running or outside, find a good sturdy branch to grab! If you work in a warehouse, find a rack with a stable bar to hoist yourself up! Keep your eyes above you and you'll find there are more opportunities than you originally assumed!
"Pull ups are too hard for me!" That's okay!! You don't have to be a pro or even be able to do them strictly to make them work for you, start off by assisting the upward movement with a jump! Then on the way back down just try to resist gravity. Within a short amount of time you'll find you need less and less jump, and you will have joined the relatively small group of fit people able to grab something over head, and pull themselves up!
What I Like to Do
So last night my girlfriend and I got home from work to our apartment, we'd forgotten to grab clothes in the morning so hitting the gym after work needed a delay. Now I don't know what time you get home, but I usually walk through the door at 6:15 straight from work. With a super adult bed time of 9:30, that doesn't exactly give me hours of fun time with dinner and exercise still in the way.
So what do we do now? It's been a long day of work, I don't want to run back out to the gym to spend my small amount of free time, so I suggest we do a short workout at home! You can take a wild guess at the exercises we used to get a heart pounding, sweat inducing workout in—in less than 15 minutes!
- Push ups
- Pull ups
Know your limitations. The great part about these basic exercises is that not only are they highly accessible, but your body will tell you how much is right! If you start a workout being able to do 10 push ups in a row, just keep shooting for that! By the time you get a few sets deep, you'll see that number quickly falling, until it's a struggle just to bang out 1 or 2 of them! The same thing applies to the squats and pull ups, figure out what you can do in 1 good, hard working set. Now take that number and multiply it by 3! That's how many reps of each exercise you should do!
For example, I can do about 20 push ups, but after that it's a real struggle. So 20*3=60. I did similar calculations with the other exercises, coming to about 80 body weight squats, 60 push ups, and 20 pull ups. (Yes pull ups can be difficult. Consistency will go a long way here.)
Is That Really All I Need To Do?
Yes, absolutely! If you've never done physical exercise before, start slow, push yourself, and use these simple movements to build a solid foundation of strength, endurance, and athletic ability. Supplemented with running, there's very few strategies to get you off the ground and into a fit lifestyle faster or more effectively!
However, if you've been doing the same thing for a month, you're doing something wrong. It's great that you've been working out and pushing yourself to be a better person in a better body, but if you want that to continue it's an absolute must that you push yourself to do just a couple more reps. Another method is to take the reps your'e already performing, and time yourself! Take a couple of weeks to time yourself on numbers and push it to your limit! After the two weeks has passed, back off on the timing and up your volume of exercise again! Push the envelope!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.