If you’re a workout buff or a beginner, you do not need a whole lot of equipment to get or keep in shape. Think basic and steal some “military secrets” for your fitness battle. One of the most basic body weight bearing exercise and test of strength is the push-up.
According to Livestrong.com, "The U.S. Navy also requires its recruits to do push-ups during the fitness test. The proper form for a push-up is with hands slightly wider than your shoulders tighten your lower back and quad muscles to form a straight line from your shoulders to your toes, raise your chin so that you are looking forward and push yourself off the ground." If you’re a beginner, I suggest trying to do a push-up on your knees or against a wall.
Place both hands on wall with your arms almost straight. Bend your elbows and slowly lower yourself toward wall, until elbows are at 90 degrees. Push yourself back up to starting position.
For women strength training, whether with equipment or using your own body weight, is especially important after menopause. According to the Mayo Clinic, the pace of bone loss really picks up in your menopausal years.
Suggestions on their website indicate that, “starting an exercise program to help you increase your muscle strength, improve your balance and help you avoid falls.” The Mayo Clinic touts other benefits of physical activity, such as, “making you better able to carry out daily tasks and activities, maintain or improve your posture, relieve or decrease pain as well as improve your sense of well-being.”
When getting back to basics for your exercise routine, there is nothing more basic than a squat. This weight bearing exercise is both functional and used in everyday life, from sitting in a chair and, yes, the toilet. It can be modified for almost any level and works your quadriceps, hamstrings and buttocks.
Sit back and bend knees, lowering the butt backwards. Only go as far as you can and do not let the knees come past a 90-degree angle or past the toe line. Be sure to keep your spine in neutral alignment not allowing your back to arch, shoulders to hunch or hips to push forward. Push back to a starting position.
A more advanced option for the quadriceps, hamstrings and buttocks is a lunge. This exercise requires more balance and stability, but you can always hold onto a wall or chair if assistance is needed.
Stand in a split stance position, with your back heel lifted. Lower down, bending your front knee to about 90 degrees, being careful not to let your front knee to jut out beyond your toes. Push back up to your starting position, focusing most of your weight through your front heel (rather than your back foot). Be sure to keep your body erect and to keep the movement going up and down like an elevator and not leaning forwarding our arching your back.
“Navy Basic Training Workouts –LiveStrong.com.” Live Strong. Web 27 Sept. 2011.
“Exercising with osteoporosis: Stay active the safe way – MayoClinic.com.” The Mayo Clinic Web 27 Sept. 2011.
Joanne Sgro-Killworth is a Television Fitness Expert, Certified Personal Trainer and Sport Nutritionist. She is Certified in Pilates, Pre-natal/Post-Partum, Yoga and Senior Fitness. She specializes in Weight Loss, Post-Rehab and Post Cancer Training.
Joanne's fitness plans and recipes are available globally on her website www.fitnessanswer.com. She resides in the Phoenix, AZ area with her husband, where she runs her personal training business, Fitness Answer, LLC.
Reviewed October 27, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith