As timeless as it is beneficial, the push up is a great exercise for building chest and arm strength. Important to remember is keeping a straight back, strong core and complete the full movement; nose to floor – arms straight. If you don’t feel ready to complete a traditional push-up you can start on your knees, or do them against a bench or wall. If you want to progress you can try raising your feel on a stool or low bench or changing hand position, wider apart targets the chest more and closer together focuses more on triceps (arms).
A variation of the traditional push up, this exercise helps to build strength in your shoulders and upper chest. Drawing inspiration from the downwards dog, the exercise requires maintaining a straight back and legs with a 90° bend at the hips. From here complete a push up movement. To progress this exercise, you can raise one leg, alternating and targeting core as well. Otherwise you can raise your feet on a small stool, chair or even a bed, just make sure you are stable, have taken adequate safety precautions and make sure you can perform the next progression before you continue.
Great for targeting triceps and arms to give you better “pushing” strength, dips are quick, easy and all you need is a chair or bench. Once again, make sure it is stable and safe. All you need to do is place your hands on the edge of the chair and feet on the ground in a slightly lengthened sitting position, bend your arms down to 90° and extend back out.
A good exercise for building core as well as upper body strength, the plank push-up is great for a burn on the run. Starting in a traditional plank position, lower yourself down onto your elbows and then back up onto straight arms. Try and lead with alternate hands each time to make sure that you stay balanced in your strength gains. The best progression is more repetitions, as it is already a more difficult exercise and balance is important. If unable to complete the traditional plank position, try going off your knees or onto a wall.
Squats are everyone’s favourite leg exercise for a reason, with huge strength, muscle and tone improvements possible from one of the simplest exercises. Important to remember however is to maintain a neutral spine throughout, draw your belly button to your spine make a stable core. Set chest and shoulders into a strong posture and keep looking straight ahead whilst you squat. Try and push through your heels for good form. A bench or chair is often good to judge depth, set yourself down and then lift back up if needed. It is preferable to just tap the bench or not use it at all. If needed you can use some makeshift weights in your hands like a water bottle or can of food.
Lunge and Twist
Another awesome leg exercise, the lunge is easy to do wherever you are, add a twist to utilise your core. This way you have a great movement pattern to hit two of the most important muscle groups in the body. You can do either walking or standing lunges; walking you’ll be moving forward (or back) and standing lunges will be on the spot, which can be helpful for when you are tight for space. Make sure you keep a stable core and upright body throughout the movement and remember that your knee should only brush the ground at the most as you control your movement down. Add a weight held in front of your body, such as a water bottle, to add an extra level of difficulty.
The plank is one of the best exercises for increasing core strength. By applying full body tension we can hit all aspects of the core to create a solid foundation for movement. Easy to do in little space. Ensure you keep your back straight, bum flexed, toes pointed and a nice tight core. There should be no bend in the back or hips, your body should be one strong, stable plank. If you can’t do it on your feet, drop down onto your knees. Take up the correct position as you progress.
If you are after advice on improving your strength come see our Physiotherapist at Pivotal Motion. Open Monday – Saturday, located in North Brisbane. Call us today on 07 3352 5116 or book online via the link.