The other day I saw a man jogging on the side of the road while I was out with my family. He was moving at a good pace, obviously set for stamina and correct form rather than speed. I thought to myself ‘Good for him!’ After all, it was cold that day, and I have to admit that even I had opted out of my usual outdoor run and swapped for a treadmill run instead. It was motivating.
But I noticed something else about the man. His form was good overall. But there was a certain bend to his body and dip in his steps. He wore shorts—something I avoid in winter at all costs—and you could see a certain weakness in his legs, something you see in many seniors as they continue to age and their bones lose the density of their younger years.
He may have not just been a runner. I have no idea what his fitness and lifestyle regimes entail. However, watching his steady progress reminded me of an important lesson that took me a long time to run: strength training is critical to an overall healthy body.
The Impact of Strength Training On The Body
Strength training is more than just developing bulk, especially if you are engaging in bodyweight strength training. Bodyweight exercises are more about building overall strength that has major health benefits. These can include some of the following:
- Developing better bone density and protecting against osteoporosis
- Improving upper and lower body strength, which can include protection against certain injuries
- Increasing longevity and living a longer, healthier life
- Assisting with balance to avoid the falls that many seniors suffer
So, what do you need to engage in bodyweight strength training? Well, the good news is that all you need is what you already have—your own body!
Bodyweight Exercises To Do Anywhere
Body exercises are great because they are effective and can be done anywhere, at any time. All you need is enough time and room to perform them.
A Google search is going to give you dozens of workouts to try, and I would recommend giving them a quick look. However, keep in mind that some will be too difficult for a beginner, so be careful as you try new bodyweight exercises. To keep it simple for now, I wanted to provide you with seven of the best strength increasing bodyweight exercises that you can do on your own, even as a beginner.
When doing squats what is most important is that your form is correct. It is easy to injure the back and knees if your form is off. You need your head up high, back straight and arms in front of you for balance. Tighten the stomach and use your quad muscles to lower you down parallel to the ground, then come back up. As you squat make sure your knees do not cave in towards each other, this can cause injury. All movements should be controlled.
Planks have been called the ultimate exercise move for many years, as they work almost the entire body. You perform a plank by lowering yourself parallel to the ground, similar to the pushup position. You will be resting on both arms flat on the floor and on your toes. Engage the whole body to keep you steady and hold for as long as possible. Be sure to keep your back, glutes, and legs flat. Many people tend to arch their back or put their hips up, try your best to stay flat.
Burpees have become a staple among personal trainers, especially those working with new clients that are just starting to get into shape. They work as both strength and cardio and are simple to do once you have tried them a few times. You do a pushup, stand up then jump before lowering yourself down into another pushup. All of this should be done in one, controlled movement sequence.
A lunge is similar to a squat in that it has to be done correctly and safely. You step one foot out in front of the other and bend down into a deep lunge that leaves your knee parallel with the ground. Then you move back into your original position. You can do all one side at once, or alternate. This will work your quads and glutes.
Don’t let the name fool you, this is an excellent exercise that is lesser known but still very effective. Lay on your back with your legs in front of you, with your legs lifted up in front of you. Next, move your legs in a controlled motion to the left, then sweep to the right. This completes one full move. Make sure you are engaging your core muscles to keep your body stable.
While on the floor, you can add on some leg lifts. Lay on your back with your legs flat on the ground. Slowly raise them up to a 90-degree angle, hold, lower them back to the ground, then raise them again. You can also lay on your side and raise one leg at a time to really get the inner thighs working. To increase the difficulty of this exercise, try to lower your legs back to the ground as slowly as possible. This will engage and strengthen your core.
Lying Hip Raises
The hips are a common problem area as you get older. Lying hip raises, also known as glute bridges, help build strength in the hips, hamstrings, buttocks and lower back, protecting from some of that risk. On your back, place your feet shoulder width apart on the ground. Pulling in your glutes and core, raise your hips from the ground, then lower them back down until you are laying on the ground once more. Keep the heels of your feet on the ground and you will feel this work extremely well.
With these bodyweight exercises included in your workout routine, you can strengthen your body and prevent future injuries.