Ask Scott: Six exercises without equipment
Top fitness coach Scott Pearson answers your health and fitness questions.
The press up - or push up in the USA - is a very basic, yet effective exercise that targets the muscles of the chest, shoulders and the back of the arms. Press ups can offer great variety as you can easily alter the position of your hands to specifically target certain areas.
For the standard press up begin in a prone position with your hands directly under your shoulders. There should be a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. From this position allow your body to lower down until your shoulders are lower that your elbows. Press to the starting position and repeat. For a video click here.
Like the press up this exercise is simple, yet effective and can offer many variations to increase difficulty or to target different areas but the main areas exercised will be the muscles of the back, back of the shoulders and front of the arms.
For the basic pull up from a bar place your hands roughly shoulder width apart over the bar so that your palms face away from you. Allow your body to hang with straight elbows and from this position pull your bodyweight upwards so that your shoulders go higher than the bar, without swinging or hitching your knees. In control, lower to the starting position and repeat. For a video click here.
The burpee is one of my favourite exercises as it is a dynamic exercise that uses most of the muscles in the body; like the press up and the pull up it can also be varied to target different areas and to increase difficulty.
For this exercise begin by standing upright; from here lower down and place your hands on the floor about shoulder width apart, at the same time jump your legs back together so that your body is straight from your ankles to your shoulders (the press up's starting position) but immediately bring them back in and jump up into the air. Repeat. For a video click here.Horizontal Row
Essentially the horizontal row is the opposite of the press up and targets all the opposite muscles; middle of the upper back, back of the shoulders and front of the arms.
Begin by hanging from a bar (or something similar), with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width, with your palms facing out and your body at about a 45Â° angle. Your feet should be on the floor and your body in a straight line from ankle to shoulder. From here pull your chest upward until it touches the bar without swinging your hips, lower back to the starting position and repeat.
Done properly this is a very challenging exercise. For a video click here.
Better known as the Sit Up, like most of these exercises the abdominal crunch has many variations but mainly targets the exterior muscles of the trunk.
Begin by lying flat on the floor with your knees bent so that your feet are comfortable and flat on the floor. Place your hands across your chest. From this position raise your shoulders off the floor until your elbows touch your knees. Lower down and repeat.
As a point of safety think about raising your spine off the floor one vertebrae at a time; don't rush the movement.
The plank is a basic, yet effective core exercise that will work deeper areas than the abdominal crunch.
Simply position yourself in a press up position, with your elbows on the floor, rather than your hands. There should be a straight line between your ankles and your shoulders, don't sag your hips down or raise them up.
Many beginners experience pain in their lower back when doing this exercise and this is a sign that you are tilting your pelvis forward and all your weight is being taken by your lumbar spine. To prevent this (and to place the work load on your core) draw your pelvis back by pulling your pubic bone towards your belly button. Simply hold this position for a time (30 seconds is ok. 1 minute is good. 2 minutes is excellent). For a video click here.
Page created on December 29th, 2008
Page updated on January 18th, 2010