Resistance exercises using body weight – no equipment required!

Following on from last weeks blog about the benefits of resistance exercise I thought I would talk about 4 exercises you could do at home 2 lower body and 2 upper body.  All are using your own body weight so no equipment needed – just 15 minutes of your time.

Firstly have a 5 minute warm up, this could be

  • walking around your garden
  • going up and down the stairs
  • marching on the spot

Try and get your arms involved as well, maybe by doing some bicep curls bringing your hands up to touch your shoulders and then back down to your sides. The idea is to get your heart rate up and get the blood flow going to your muscles. It can also serve to clear your mind and get you in the mood to do some exercise.

The usual thinking is to have stretches between warm up and main exercise programme however this is now being challenged with little evidence that static stretching prevents injury or subsequent muscle soreness[i].  Once you are warm I would prefer to go straight into the session rather than risk you cooling down.  We will do a few stretches at the end.

Step Ups

Step ups are a great functional exercise, most of us climb stairs everyday. The exercise will work your bottom, hamstrings, quadriceps and also your calves.

  1. Find a step, preferably one next to something you can use for balance if needed (e.g. a banister or a wall)
  2. Leading with your left foot step up making sure your whole foot is on the step.  Keeping the left foot on the step, step your right foot up onto the step. Both feet are now on the step.
  3.  Step back down, leading again with the left leg and bringing your right foot down to join it on the floor.
  4. Do 10 steps leading with your left leg and then ten leading with your right. You should be trying to work up to 1 minute on each leg.

This exercise is also great for getting your heart rate up.

Wall slides

  1. Stand upright with your back against a wall, feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Walk feet 12 inches from the wall
  3. Slowly bend your knees, sliding your back down the wall for a count of five until your knees are bent at a 45-degree angle. Do not worry if you can not reach a 45-degree angle, go down as far as is comfortable for you. You should not be in any pain.
  4. Hold this position for 5 seconds
  5. Begin straightening your knees for a count of five, sliding up the wall until you are fully upright with knees straight

Repeat this 5 times.

Wall push up

This  exercise will work your chest shoulders and triceps and is excellent if you want to strengthen the chest muscles but have back problems.

  1. Stand facing a wall roughly 1 metre away. Place hands on the wall at chest height and shoulder width apart with fingers pointing to the ceiling, there should be a slight bend in the elbow.
  2. Bend your arms (whilst inhaling) and your body will lean towards the wall, you should be aiming to get a 90 degree bend at the elbow but don’t worry it you can’t do this at first just lower yourself as far as it feels comfortable.
  3. Push off the wall (whilst exhaling) until your arms are back in the starting position with elbows slightly bent.

Repeat 10 times.

Standing Wall angel

Poor posture can lead to all sorts of problems and this back strengthening/shoulder mobility exercise can help prevent that.

  1. Stand flat up against a wall with your back to the wall and feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Press the small of your back into the wall and bend your arms to that the backs of your arms and hands are pressed against the wall at a 90-degree angle to your body.  If you can’t get your arms against the wall do not arch your back just take elbows back until you feel a stretch.
  3. Move your arms up the wall, keeping your wrists and elbows pressed against the wall (if you can). You are aiming to get the hands together above the head, but again don’t worry if this isn’t possible yet just do the range of movement you are capable of.
  4. Lower hands to the starting position.

Repeat 10 times.

If you feel any pain or dizziness during these exercises then please stop.

Stretching is important as research has shown flexibility declines 20-50% between the ages of 30 and 70 years. It deserves (and will get) a blog post to itself, for now here are 4 stretches that you should do after performing the above exercises.

Quadricep stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Bend knee and grab the front of the ankle and pull the foot towards the bottom until a stretch is felt in the front thigh.
  3. Hold for 10-15 seconds, release and change legs.

Hamstring stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Place hands on hips and take a small step forward keeping the front leg straight and slightly bending the rear knee. Lean forward from waist keeping back straight.
  3. Hold for 10-15 seconds, release and change legs.

Chest stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Place your hands on your hips just above the bottom with palms facing the body and move the elbows backwards until a mild stretch is felt.
  3. Hold for 10-15 seconds and then release.

Upper back stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Clasp your hands together in front of you with palms facing the body
  3. Straighten the arms and gently raise to shoulder height
  4. Make a round back by easing the shoulder blades apart and lower the chin slightly.
  5. Hold for 10-15 seconds and release.

All done!

If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment.

For more information on Personal Training please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over-50s This will open a new browser window.

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