Can’t afford a gym membership? Who cares! While it may be easier to stick with your workout routine when you have a gym membership, most that have one rarely use it. So why waste the money? There are so many exercises that can be done at home to tone up that upper body. Check out the postings for lower body exercises, and here are some for your upper body as well. So get off that couch and get to movin’. You now have all winter to get in shape for next summer. You might be asking yourselves, “How do I stay motivated all winter long? I’ll lose momentum like I always do!” Well, Google search what you want your body to look like, print it out and post it where you’ll see it daily. Or, get a picture of yourself at your finest and use that instead. What ever will work for you individually, use it!
To get started, stretch, stretch, stretch! Lie on your back on the floor or the couch, spread your arms wide (if you’re on a couch, you can only do one unless your couch doesn’t have a back to it), and let the muscles in your chest stretch nice and tight; breathe deep, relax. Do both arms. Next, reach your arm behind your back like you’re trying to scratch your spine, take your other arm and push your elbow back. This will stretch your triceps; be sure to reach for the middle of your spine. To stretch your biceps, simply spread your arms out to your sides like you’re about to spin with your arms out.
Lay on an exercise ball supporting your lower body with your feet. Only your back should be on the ball. Grab a pair of dumbbells (start with a light weight at first to get your form right) and extend your arms so you can see the bells above your face. Slowly lower the bells to the sides of your body keeping your hands in line with your shoulders (see picture). Stop once you hands are in line with your shoulders and come back up. Do 3 sets of 15.
With the dumbbells, start with your elbows bent (see picture), the dumbbells almost resting on your shoulders, press up slowly to extend elbows almost all the way. Do not lock elbows. Hold, and bring back down.
Do 3 sets of 15.
There are several ways to do pushups depending on your level. There are the girl style pushups (which I don’t recommend doing for very long since they don’t prepare you for actual pushups, they just tone arms). There are the incline pushups that you can do on a stair, a chair, a couch; anything that will raise your upper body off the floor (these will helps prepare you for actual pushups more than girl-style); the higher up you lift your body, the easier they are. Then there is the actual pushup which for a beginner, you may only be able to do 1, maybe 3. That’s ok, you have to start somewhere. If you can do 1, you can build on that every other day!
Start on the floor with your knees touching the floor and your feet above your knees. Place your hands shoulder width apart fingers pointing forward. Keep your neck straight or look ahead at a point in front of you. Be sure your body is straight. Tighten the stomach muscles to help with this. Bend your elbows back towards your butt until you touch your chest to the floor—do not rest there—and slowly lift back up to starting position. Do 3 sets of 15.
If you have stairs, use these as they will help you develop more. If not, use a chair or the couch. With your feet together and your hands on the edges of whatever incline you are using, fingers pointed forward, straighten your body, again, using your stomach muscles to help with this. Be sure your butt is not raised! Your back should be completely straight. Keeping your neck straight, bend your elbows towards your butt until you are almost to the edge of your incline, then come back up to starting position.
If you can not do 3 sets of 10 or 15, then do what you can. Once you reach what you think is your limit, do 1 more. Remember how many you did since every other day you will want to do 1 more until you reach 3 sets of 15.
These are harder for women, but they are completely possible to do 3 sets of 15, or just doing 50. Watch your posture on these if you haven’t done them in a while; you can injure yourself with bad posture! Lying flat on the floor, push yourself up so that your toes hold your lower body weight, feet together, hands shoulder width apart fingers splayed open and pointing in front of you. Neck straight. Back completely straight! Tighten your stomach muscles; this will help keep you in line. Bend elbows back towards your butt and keep bending until you are almost to the floor (almost, meaning there should only be at the most 2 inches between you and the floor), then come back up to starting position. Repeat. If you can only do 1, that’s ok. Start with 1. The next day, do 2. The next time, 3 and so on until you get to 15. You can start with doing 3 sets of 15, but shoot for 50 at a time.
The great thing about pushups is they tone your entire upper body with just this one exercise! You’ll want to do bell curls and triceps extensions (will come in a few days), but pushups will help you to increase your upper strength. Women especially will lack in this department more often than not. So start with these and more will come in a few days.
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