Are you thinking about starting an exercise program but not sure where to start?
Worried that by joining a gym you will not know which exercises to do?
If you are unsure of where to start and want to take some steps to increasing your exercise knowledge to increase your confidenc in the gym, why not try these five bodyweight exercises at home or at a gym to get you started.
1) The Hip Hinge is a great exercise to do, as it plays a role in many lower body exercises: in the squat and deadlift and it also teaches body awareness. The Hip Hinge is a movement that requires core control and hip mobility. This movement in its simplest terms is pushing the hips back, with minimal knee bend as the upper body bows, whilst maintaining a neutral spine.
Stand tall with your palms down on your thighs. Feet positioned slightly wider than your hips, toes pointing forwards. Engage your core and keep a neutral spine throughout the movement, head looking straight ahead when standing and to the floor when hinging. Push the hips back to initiate the movement, as the hips move back your palms travel down your thighs. If the hips are not moving back the hands do not move down. You should have a slight bend at the knees. To stand, bring the hips back under the shoulders, straightening the legs.
Note: A common error to this exercise is rounding the back and head looking up.
2) Press Up Progressions. You do not have to be able to do press ups on the floor to get benefits to the chest, triceps, back and core with this exercise. Start with your hands raised on a desk, work surface or step, and as you get stronger lower the height of the surface you are resting your hands on, so you are closer to the ground.
The best way to make sure you are in the correct position is from the bottom up.
Start by lying on the floor, legs straight out behind you, face facing the floor. Place your hands by the side of your body, just below your armpits. Keep your core tight and glutes engaged. Push yourself up until your arms are straight. Keep your body in a straight line as you push up, ankles, knees, hips aligned. Lower yourself down until your chest is just off the floor.
Note: A common error on this exercise is dropping the hips to the floor. The whole body should move together.
3) Body Weight Squat. This exercise is great for targeting the muscles of the lower limbs: your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and calves. If you are moving freely and to the correct depth it also helps with mobility. Hip mobility is important for a number of reasons, such as maintaining your stride length, posture and exercise technique.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, feet turned out around 5-20 degrees. Look straight ahead and raise your arms to shoulder level, so they are outstretched and parallel to the floor. Position your bodyweight through your heels. Your heels should stay in contact with the ground throughout the squat. Initiate the movement by pushing the hips back, keep pushing/sitting back through the hips as your knees begin to bend. Keep a neutral spine, with a slight lean forwards with your shoulders above your knees. Make sure you keep your knees following the path of your toes. Squat down until your hips are inline with your knees, thighs parallel to the floor, IF your movement allows you to squat to this depth. Drive through your heels, pushing the floor away from you as you stand. As you stand squeeze your glutes and bring your hips back under your shoulders. When you stand, everything should extend at the same time, when the legs straighten your shoulders will straighten.
Note: A common error on this exercise is bending the knees first to start the movement and extending the legs before the shoulders.
4) Side Plank. This exercise is great as it works your obliques which are the muscles on the side of your stomach and can be used to show discrepancies in strength between your sides.
Lie on your side, with your legs straight and right elbow directly below your shoulder, with your forearm on the floor. Prop your body up off the floor with the weight supported along your forearm, keep the shoulders directly above each other and core engaged. Continue breathing normally and hold for a period of time 10-60 seconds.
Note: A common error on this exercise is the shoulder on top rounding, keep the shoulders above each other.
5) Hip Bridge. This exercise is great for targeting the glutes and hamstrings, which are generally weak in all of us and need activating and switching on. Due to sitting for long periods the glutes and hamstrings are switched off, whilst the hip flexors become tight.
Lie on with your back on the floor, legs stretched out. Have your hands by your side, with your palms facing down. Bend the knees and place your feet flat on the floor just in-front of your glutes/bottom. Push through your heels and lift your hips up off the floor until your knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds before lowering to the floor.
Note: A common error to this exercise is pushing the hips too high.
These exercises will give you a good whole body workout. Perform 10-15 repetitions of each exercise. Rest 30-60 seconds between exercise and aim to complete 2-4 rounds. As you become fitter, decrease the rest period between sets and increase the number of rounds you complete. Let us know how you get on!