Building strength doesn’t require a long workout, expensive weights, or fancy equipment. The only things you need to build strength are a bit of time — and your own body.
Exercises that use your body’s weight can be equally as challenging and beneficial to your body as those that require weights and machines. Body-weight exercises force your body to focus on strength and mobility at the same time. Working with weights tends to give the body a different experience because doing so focuses on strength and keeps mobility to a minimum with repetitive, short-range motions. In contrast, body-weight exercises put your joints to work. While one joint is focusing on mobilization, another can focus on strengthening the muscles. Over time, that’s a recipe that helps prevent joint wear and tear.
June is Men’s Health Month, and we’re presenting a look at our top five body-weight strength exercises for men. Beginners can cycle through these exercises as a circuit, doing 10 repetitions of each exercise and repeating the circuit three times.
Our physical therapy director, Peter Tonsoline, PT, ATC, recommends the following exercises. He also states that a consultation with a physical therapist or strength and conditioning coach would be helpful for proper demonstration for beginners.
The Reverse Crunch
Traditional crunches tend to turn into “neck-ups” instead of “sit-ups,” which can lead to neck and shoulder pain instead of giving your abdominal muscles a workout. Instead, try the reverse crunch.
Pushups are great for building strength in the chest, shoulders, and triceps. And as an added bonus, they’ll strengthen and stabilize your torso and lower back. If you’re experienced with pushups, try a few variations, such as one-handed or one-legged versions. You can also elevate your feet for added benefit.
Squats & Lunges
Squats and lunges are closely related, basic exercises that come with enormous benefits. Squats are a great conditioning exercise that work your quads, your glutes, your hamstrings, and your lower back — all in a single movement. Lunges work your quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and core muscles. And both exercises will help improve balance and coordination.
Single-leg training exercises, like step ups, can help strengthen the muscles that stabilize your body and can help even out imbalances (if, for example, your right side is stronger than your left). As you work, you’re building lower body strength and improving balance and coordination. To perform the exercise, step up onto a box or other surface and drive your other leg up so that your knee reaches waist height. Lower your leg and return to starting position with both feet flat on the ground.
Don’t Overdo It
Remember that building strength is something that happens over time. To avoid injury, focus on mastering the form. Add repetition slowly — and only add hand weights once you’re comfortable with an exercise. Finally, as with any exercise regimen, check with your doctor before you get started and be sure that any underlying medical issues or old injuries have been addressed.
Unfortunately, caution won’t protect you from every injury. If you suffer an injury, it’s important to consult an orthopaedic specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment. For expert evaluation and treatment of sudden injuries, choose UB OrthoCare.