Make bodyweight training a solid part of your holiday foundation of fitness

By Christopher B. Robrahn 
Fitness Columnist

Happy Holidays to all! Here we are at the time of year when our personal time and attention is very limited. Holiday shopping, social commitments and family time can be quite stressful.  

One of the best activities to reduce stress and tension is a great fitness workout. Unfortunately, many of us end up reducing or limiting our time in the gym at this time of year. Some people resort to the notion that in January, exercise can be resumed.  

The reality is that with the use of bodyweight training, anyone can complete an effective workout relying on their weight to stay in shape. It works very well as a stop-gap measure and is a great way to diversify your workouts if you tend to spend all your time in the gym and to use machines and free weights.

If you decide what specific exercises you may want to do, they can be done anytime your schedule allows and can be accomplished no matter if you have a house or apartment and even limited time or focus.

Here are five good basic bodyweight exercises:

  1. Squat: Forget a barbell or squat rack, you can squat with your own body weight, lowering your hindquarters toward the floor, then lifting again. You need to maintain good form. They can be done anywhere. Refer to a video or assistance when starting a squat routine. 
  1. Push up: My favorite, and I do these six days a week downstairs. Stretch out face down and use your arms to push yourself off the floor. Maintain good form and start with only doing several. Do them smoothly, and don’t force it; you can hurt yourself. 
    Over time, you can add several repetitions. I usually do three sets. A regular pushup set, incline, and decline. Probably the best basic bodyweight exercise and can be done anywhere.
  1. Pull up: A pull up is a great way to build your upper body, but you may not have the ability to do it at home without a pull-up bar. I will certainly encourage it if you are ready for it. Get input to make sure you are pulling yourself up correctly.
  1. Lunge: I don’t do this one very often, but I should. The movement, which requires you to stand, feet together, then take turns lowering one leg, then the other to your knee and lifting yourself back to the starting position.   
    It is a great leg strengthening exercise and can even help with balance and cardio — review photos or preferably a video for learning correct form.
  2. Dip: Dips are relatively difficult and shouldn’t be done unless you have some assistance to begin. Probably not a great idea to do it at home unless you have the proper equipment and know what you are doing.

Modify your training to what works for you. Bodyweight squats, lunges, and pushups are great. My “morning cardio” is a mix of bodyweight work, static stretches, other bodyweight exercises like crunches and leg kicks, and some weight training with my bench.

These are all very basic means of training when I’m not at my gym (or even when I am for that matter). I’ve heard, “The world is your gym.” meaning you can invent exercise that works for you in your own home.

Don’t let the holiday season pass without exercise. It is always available to you. Merry Christmas!

Copyright The Gayly. 12/22/2019 @ 6:16 p.m.