Six Steps to a Weightless Workout

From the WebMD Archives

June 19, 2000 -- Whether you're traveling and can't get to the gym or simply aren't the weight-training "type," you can still get fit with this total body workout. Cedric Bryant, PhD, an exercise physiologist at StairMaster Sports and Beth Rothenberg, a personal trainer who teaches at the University of California at Los Angeles' fitness instructor program, have created a weightless workout anyone can do. These six simple moves will hit all the major muscle groups and can be done almost anywhere. Do them three times a week. As always, consult a physician before beginning any exercise program.

  1. Standing back extension -- Works the lower back, glutes, and backs of the thighs. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Raise your right arm up and in front of you and, keeping your rear-end tight, simultaneously extend your left leg behind you as far as you can comfortably go. Do 15; switch sides and repeat. For variation, perform the exercise with your heels out and toes in (or your heels in and your toes out) on the leg you extend behind you.

  2. Squats -- Work the thighs and rear With your hands at your sides, legs hip-width apart, bend your knees and lower your body as if you were going to sit on a chair. Keep your chest vertical and allow your back to arch slightly. Stop when thighs are horizontal and hold. Rise back up slowly. Start with five repetitions and work up to 15. As you get stronger you may want to increase the resistance by holding a soup can or milk jug filled with water in each hand.

  3. Progressive push ups -- Work the chest, shoulders, and arms Do these three moves, one after the other.

    • Stand a few feet from a wall and place your palms flat on the wall directly in front of your shoulders. Bend your elbows and, keeping your feet flat on the floor, slowly bring your upper body to within a few inches of the wall. Push slowly back to the starting position. Do five.

    • Stand a few feet back from a desk (or counter) and place your palms, flat on the desk, shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows and slowly bring your upper body to within a few inches of the desk. Slowly push back to starting position. Do five.

    • Kneel with your hands shoulder-width apart in front of you, palms flat on the floor, and ankles crossed behind you, or extend your legs behind you, supporting your weight on your toes and hands. Keeping your back straight and abdominals tight, slowly lower your upper body to within a few inches of the floor. Slowly push back to starting position. Do five. Work up to 15 to 20 of each move.

  4. Abdominal curls -- Work the abdominal muscles Lie on your back with your knees up, feet flat on the floor, and hands behind your head. Tightening your abdominal muscles, raise your head and shoulders just off the floor and slowly lower down again. Do as many repetitions as you can, working up to 20.

  5. Dips -- Work the backs of the arms Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair with your knees bent, arms straight, and grip the edge of the seat with your hands. Slip your hips off the chair and bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle as you lower your hips toward the floor, but don't touch it. Slowly come back up. Do as many repetitions as you can, working up to 20.

  6. Calf raises -- Work the lower legs Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed inward. Slowly rise up on your toes, hold, and slowly lower down again. Do 15 and work up to 20. Repeat, this time pointing your toes out.


Daryn Eller is a freelance writer in Venice, Calif. Her articles have appeared in Health and Cosmopolitan magazines and many other publications.

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