Some people think that getting fit has to be expensive. Gym memberships. Fancy clothes. So much stuff to buy, thanks to so many ads eager to sell. But we don’t have to buy, at least not much, to get fit.
In fact, the most traditional forms of fitness are all free – jogging, push-ups, hiking, rope jumping, sit-ups, stretching, dips, lunges. Today we’ve enlisted David Leonhardt, who writes about fitness and nutrition at http://thehappyguy.com/category/fitness/, to share with us three very basic and very traditional ways to build muscle on the cheap – and to power it up a notch or two without spending more.
Make push-ups more powerful.
Push-ups are one of the most basic traditional forms of exercise. Great for arms, shoulders and back, they take advantage of your body weight. Let’s face it, instead of having to buy weights or find something heavy that is easy to grip, you just push your own body weight up.
If you keep doing push-ups daily, and keep pushing the envelope, you might find before long that you are doing 50 or 60 – or 150 and 160. This might start getting boring and you might find it is not challenging you anymore. Or you might be impatient for quick results. Either way, there are two ways to power up your push-ups that cost absolutely nothing.
Raise your feet. This is quite simple. Place your feet on the bottom step of a staircase, so that in your starting position your feet are higher than your hands. Or on the second step. Or on a chair. The higher your feet, the harder the push-ups will be and the better for building muscle.
Raise your hands. This might sound counterintuitive, but it works. It is just a little more complicated. You need to raise your hands, but keep the floor at the same level so that you bring your nose down to the ground – lower than your hands. You could buy those as-see-on-TV handles for this that also swivel. It is not a big expense, and it might just be worth it. But you can use short lengths of wood , such as a 2 by 4 or a 4 by 4 post, one for each hand. They won’t swivel, but they do add power.
Make sit-ups more powerful.
Sit-ups are great for building your core. But, like push-ups, you might find before long that you are doing 50 or 60 – or 150 and 160 and it is getting boring and you need new challenges. Try these variations.
Hold something heavy on your chest to increase the weight. Make sure it is something safe, like a large book (Like the dictionary!) or a plastic bottle of laundry soap.
Try sit-ups at the top of the stairs, with your legs extended over the descending stairs. WARNING: make sure your bottom is back enough from the edge of the stairs so that you do not slide down the stairs.
Add a twist. As you sit-up, bring your right elbow across to touch your left knee. The next time, bring your left elbow across to touch your right knee.
Make dumbbells more powerful.
There are ways to make dumbbells more powerful. Yes, it’s true, that is what politics is supposed to be about, but that usually just ends up costing everybody a lot. Remember that this is how to pump up your workout for free.
Yes, for free. Dumbbells do not cost anything. Just wait until you have two empty plastic laundry jugs, then fill them part way with water. Voila, you have free dumbbells. And here are two ways to power up those free dumbbells.
Add more water. Yes, kind of obvious. More water, more weight, more muscle.
Remove some water. Huh? Try it. Remove some water, so the jugs are actually somewhat light. Then hold the jugs down at your sides. Now lift them sideways up until your arms and body form a “T”. That’s right – it is much harder to lift them in this position, and you need them to be lighter. But you will be building different muscles. You might want to keep several plastic jugs with different amounts of water – just like a set of dumbbells at different weights.
Pay for a more powerful work-out? You must be kidding.
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