5 simple body weight exercises

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#1: Squat

The benefits: Works your lower core and lower body

How to do a squat: Start standing tall with a chair or an exercise bench behind you. Feet should be lined up below hips, with toes pointing out slightly. Push hips back and bend knees to lower butt until it touches the chair. Make sure chest stays lifted. Push through heels to return to standing. Try to do 2 sets of 12 reps.

When that gets easy: Ditch the bench and aim to get low! Try to bring thighs parallel to the floor without allowing the knees to push too far over your toes.

Still too easy? Pause for a count of three at the bottom of the squat before you return to standing tall.


#2: Burpee

The benefit: Improves your total body conditioning through this cardiovascular and strength move

How to do a burpee: Start standing. Bend knees and place palms on floor. Step or hop feet back until you’re in a plank push-up position. Pause for one second, then step or hop feet next to hands and stand up. Try to do 2 sets of 6 reps.

When that gets easy: Add a jump when you stand up.

Still too easy? Add a push-up while you’re in plank position (drop to your knees if needed), and keep the jump when you stand up.


#3: Mountain climbers

The benefits: Works your abdominal muscles (abs) with an added element of cardiovascular conditioning, too. Strong abs are essential for good posture and help with balance.

How to do mountain climbers: Kneel on the floor, with palms on the ground directly below shoulders. Keep arms straight and extend legs behind body, creating a long line from head to heels (your starting position). Lift right foot off floor and bring your right knee underneath your chest. Pause, then return right foot to starting position. Repeat on opposite side. Try to do 2 sets of 12 reps, alternating sides with each rep.

When that gets easy: Remove pause and pick up the pace. Imagine that you’re running in place, but in a plank position.

Still too easy? Engage your obliques (the muscles that run along the sides of your waist) by bringing knee to opposite elbow. So instead of driving your right knee under your torso, you’ll twist at your torso, bringing your right knee as close as possible to your left elbow.



#4: Dips

The benefits: Strengthens your triceps and shoulders

How to do dips: Sit on the floor, with knees bent and feet flat on floor. Place hands behind body, with palms on ground, fingers facing toward butt. Lift hips a few inches off ground. Bend elbows to lower body toward ground. Make sure elbows are pointing directly behind body, not flaring out to sides. Straighten arms to press back up. Try to do 2 sets of 12 reps.

When that gets easy: Use a sturdy bench or chair! Place hands on the raised surface instead of the floor. This will help you move through a deeper range of motion. Aim to bend your elbows until they create 90-degree angles, and make sure your back stays close to the bench.

Still too easy? Continue using the bench, but extend your legs in front of the body instead of keeping feet planted on the floor.


#5: Push-ups

The benefits: Strengthens your entire upper body — abs, arms, back, chest

How to do a push-up: Place palms on top of a sturdy bench and walk legs behind body, creating a long line from head to heels. Shoulders should be directly over wrists. Keep core tight and bend arms to lower chest toward top of bench while keeping elbows close to torso. Push through palms to straighten arms. Do 2 sets of 12 reps.

When that gets easy: Ditch the bench and try this on the floor. Start in a plank position with arms straight. Lower knees to ground while keeping shoulders directly above wrists—this is your new starting position.

Still too easy? Don’t lower your knees to the floor. Remain in a plank position while bending and straightening arms.

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