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Body weight training

A top fitness option for 2013

According to a survey submitted by The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Body weight training is at number three position in Top Fitness Trend for 2013. Body weight training has become increasingly popular with "at home" exercisers and folks "on the road". Also because, it's affordable (no equipment to purchase), speeds up the workout time (no equipment to adjust), and doesn't require much space.

As the name implies, it involves using your body's own weight as the source of resistance to build up strength and endurance. Below are body weight training alternate exercises, for a complete body workout.

Push-Up: A basic push-up does not require any equipment other than your own body weight and your arms. It can be done anywhere there is a firm surface. And it works the chest, the shoulders, abs, and the triceps. Modifications can be made for different fitness levels. If a traditional push-up is too hard, try resting your knees on the ground while you push-up. To do the exercise: Assume a prone position on the floor or other hard surface that's able to support your body weight. Keep your feet together. Place your hands under your shoulders with your palms on the ground. Curl your toes upward (towards your head) so that the balls of your feet touch the ground. Raise yourself using your arms. At this point, your weight should be supported by your hands and the balls of your feet. This is the beginning and the end position of a single push-up. Lower your torso to the ground until your elbows form a 90 degree angle. Keep your head facing forward. Try to have the tip of your nose pointed directly to the front as you're going down. Draw a breath as you lower yourself. Raise yourself by attempting to push the ground away from you. Breathe out as you push. The power for that push will inevitably come from your shoulders and chest. Continue the push until your arms are just about straight. Stretch the chest and shoulder muscles during your cool down cycle.

Squats: Squats are one of the best lower body exercises you can do. They are multi-joint exercises which target all the muscles of the hips, glutes and thighs. Fast paced frequent repetitions will produce maximum results. For beginners to do the exercise: Place a chair just behind you and stand in front of it with feet about hip-or shoulder-width apart. Contract the abs and keep them tight as you bend the knees and slowly squat towards the chair. Keep the knees behind the toes as you sit down on the chair for a few seconds. Contract the glutes and hamstrings to lift up out of the chair and begin extending the legs. Fully extend the legs until you're back to standing position. Repeat this for 1-3 sets of 10-16 repetitions. To progress, squat down until you're just hovering over the chair, but not sitting all the way down. Always keep the knees in line with the toes!

Lunges: Lunges are great for working all the major muscles of the hips, glutes and thighs. For beginners, you can try this move while holding onto a chair or wall for balance. Stand with right foot forward, left foot back about 3 feet apart. Hold weights in each hand if desired and bend the knees to lower the body towards the floor. Keep the front knee behind the toes and be sure to lower straight down rather than forward. Keep the torso straight and abs in as you push through the front heel and back to starting position. Don't lock the knees at the top of the movement. Perform 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps according to your fitness level and goals. Walking lunges as well as side lunges, are a great way to tone legs without using a machine.

Sit-Ups: Lifting your body from the core will shape mid-section muscles. There are many popular modifications to this exercise like crunches and side sit-ups. To do a sit-up: Lie down on the floor. Have your knees bent and the balls of your feet and heels placed flat on the ground. Place your hands behind the lobes of your ears, or even hold your ears. Avoid grabbing the back of your head or neck, as this may cause injury down the road if you pull too hard or in the wrong direction. You can also cross your arms across your chest and touch your shoulders. Tighten your abdominal muscles by drawing in your belly button to your spine. Keeping your heels on the ground and your toes flat to the ground, slowly lift your head first, followed by your shoulder blades. Focus your eyes on your bent knees, all the while contracting the abdominal muscles. Pull up from the floor about half way. Hold the position for a second. Slowly bring the torso back to the floor but try to keep it slightly elevated off the ground. This means not to place your back flat to the ground but to keep a slight, yet relaxed, arch. Only do two to three sets if you are a beginner and slowly build up the amount over time, as your strength increases.

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