Improve Your Body Strength training increases your body’s ability to perform functional movements, and it can help you feel strong and confident. You don’t need a gym membership to do a full-body strength workout; you can get a good resistance workout with body weight alone.
Start with these six basic exercises and build your strength. Each exercise targets different major muscles in the upper and lower body, while working your core for stability.
Pushups are one of the most effective exercises for building strength in your upper body, including your pecs and triceps. The more you increase your pushup capacity, the easier it is to perform everyday activities like getting out of bed or lifting a heavy box.
They also strengthen core muscles, including lesser-worked ones like the transverse abdominis and multifidus. This helps stabilize the spine, which reduces back pain and muscle strain, Rhodes says.
To get the most from pushups, start by determining your baseline repetition count. Set a timer for one minute, then see how many pushups you can do with good form before the clock goes off. Record your results and track your progress over time. Avoid practicing pushups to exhaustion, which can backfire and actually decrease your strength over time.
Squats are a great lower-body exercise that strengthens and tones muscles in the thighs, butt, calves, and back. They also help improve posture, balance, flexibility and core strength. Plus, adding muscle increases your body’s metabolism and helps you burn more calories.
If you’re new to strength training, talk with your doctor or personal trainer before starting. They can help you develop a workout that meets your needs and goals.
If you want to make squats more challenging, consider using weights, such as dumbbells or a barbell with a crossover grip. Or try a pistol squat, which targets each leg separately. When you come up out of a squat, focus on driving through your heels to activate the muscles in the back of your body.
Between sitting in the office, curling up on the couch and driving a car, you spend most of your time in a flexed position, which can cause tight hip flexors. Performing glute bridges helps combat the hip flexor stress and strengthens the glutes and core to help you get better posture.
Skye recommends adding a resistance band to this movement to challenge your body even more. Lie down on the floor in your starting position, then place the band around the knees to add external resistance. Continue to press into the ground with your feet, squeeze your glute muscles at the peak of the movement and slowly lower your tailbone back down.
You can also try performing this exercise on one leg to increase the challenge and challenge your core and hip stability as well. This progression is best used after you’ve mastered the basic version of the glute bridge with bodyweight.
In addition to strengthening the pectoral muscles, push-ups also engage the triceps and core. They’re a closed kinetic chain exercise that uses your body weight for resistance, and they can be modified for many fitness levels.
For example, beginners can perform push-ups on their knees or on a bench or wall to lessen the stress placed on the chest and back. “They can progress to a full push-up as their strength improves,” Capritto says.
Another great push-up modification is doing the exercise on a counter or other high surface to add more challenge. This helps reduce the amount of body weight you have to lift, which increases the intensity and strengthens the synergists that assist with elbow extension and shoulder flexion. This is also a great option for people with wrist or elbow problems.
Hollow body holds are a great addition to a core workout or full-body routine because they strengthen multiple muscle groups simultaneously. They’re also an isometric exercise, meaning that once your back and legs are pressed into the floor, they remain that way for the duration of the movement.
For the best results, when performing this move, aim to suspend your legs at a slight angle. This helps ensure that your ribcage properly aligned with the pelvis, and that you’re not placing too much emphasis on your hips flexors at the expense of your abs.
In the early stages, it may be easier to perform this exercise with your knees bent rather than straight. This may help prevent your neck from getting too hyperextended, which can cause unwanted pressure on your spine and lower back.