Posts

HandStand

Best Bodyweight Exercises for Teens

Teenagers in the 21st Century are the most unfit generation in history.

With the rise of the internet, mobile technology and gaming, teens perform less exercise than ever before.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the number of obese teenagers has risen from 32 million in 1990 to 42 million in 2013.

This is an increase of more than 25%.

Obesity and a lack of physical fitness can be combated by exercise and resistance training.

One of the best and most suitable ways is through bodyweight exercises.

So what are the best bodyweight exercises for teens?

The Facts

Bodyweight training is a cheap and easy way to exercise, get fit, build muscle and improve health. Bodyweight exercises can be done pretty much anywhere. Some ideas are:

  • In the house – a bedroom floor is perfect

  • Outside in a public park

  • In the yard/garden

One of the best things about bodyweight exercises is that you don’t need to join an expensive gym or buy any equipment. All you need is your body, some space and a little motivation.

Bodyweight training can burn huge amounts of calories and fat. Bodyweight training is used by the Army, Marines, boxers and MMA fighters to improve fitness, build muscle and increase endurance.

Remember to Warm Up!

A good warm up is really important. You should warm up before you do any kind of physical activity or exercise. A warm up will help prevent injury by loosening joints and getting the blood flowing.

Start by walking on the spot or up and down a set of stairs. If you’re able, gradually increase your speed until you’re jogging. Your blood will be pumping and you will feel warm and be sweating a little. Take care jogging up the stairs!

A warm up should last for between 5 and 15 minutes. You should feel warm but not tired.

Harder-Pushup-Variation

You can also make pushups harder if regular ones are too easy for you.

The Push Up

The push up (or press up as it’s sometimes called) is one of the most recognizable bodyweight exercises. It works your chest, shoulder, core and back muscles. MMA fighters, soldiers and boxers might do hundreds in one day. However you can start by just doing a few and then building up your numbers slowly.

The best way is to do as many as you can and then stop. That’s called one ‘set’. Rest for a couple of minutes and then do another set. Aim to do five sets of ten push ups. Once you can do that, go for five sets of 20.

To do a push up, lie face down on the floor with your hands palm down on the floor, in line with your shoulders. Your legs should be straight. Using your chest, arms and shoulders, lift your body off the floor, keeping your legs straight. Keep going until your arms are straight but not locked. Then lower down slowly until your elbows are at right angles.

That’s one push-up (or one ‘rep’).

If you can’t do a full push up, there is a technique that you can use until you build upper body strength. Rest your knees on the floor as you push up. This means less weight is being lifted and so the exercise is easier.

The Squat

The bodyweight or ‘air’ squat is one of the best exercises to work the leg muscles, lower back and core (abdominals or abs). It will also improve flexibility in the hips and improve posture.

To do a squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. I like to rest my hands on my head or have them crossed over my chest. Bend at the knees and hips, as if sitting down on a chair. Keep the chest up, eyes facing forward. When your thighs are at right angles to the ground, stand slowly back up. That’s one squat.

Start by doing five sets of 10 squats. Once you can do this easily, increase your numbers until you can do five sets of 20.

If you find squatting difficult, use a chair for support. Lower your bodyweight slowly onto the chair and stand slowly back up without resting. This will make the exercise easier until you are strong or flexible enough to do a full squat.

Chin Ups

So far, we’ve worked our chest, shoulders and legs. Now we want to work the muscles in our backs. The chin up is one of the best ways to safely exercise the back muscles.

Although you can buy chin up bars to fit in doorways at home, I prefer to improvise. You can use anything: a beam in your garage, the branch of a tree, even a climbing frame in the park.

Start with your hands grasping the bar. Your palms can either face you (this works the arms more) or away from you (this focuses more on the back). Pull your body up until your chin is over the bar. Then lower slowly down. This is one chin up.

Chin ups are quite difficult so start with three sets of two or three reps. When you can do this easily, increase the numbers until you can do three sets of eight.

There is a technique to improving your chin up numbers. It’s called ‘greasing the groove’. This is best done with a door-way mounted chin up bar. Every time you pass the bar, you have to do a chin up! Once this is easy, increase it to two chin ups, and so on.

You can also check out this post if you’re interested in learning how you can do more chin-ups and pull-ups.

Abdominal Crunches

Abdominal crunches are a great bodyweight exercise in that they target the stomach muscles, or abdominals. These are often referred to as ‘abs’.

A strong set of abdominal muscles helps you to perform the other exercises listed above. Strong abs also help to prevent injury, especially to your back. Crunches are easy to do. Here’s how:

Lie on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Hook your toes under a sofa or another piece of furniture – this will help stabilize your body. Cross your arms over your chest with your hands touching your collar bone. Slowly raise your chest and shoulders up off the floor until your upper body is at a 45 degree angle. Keep your stomach muscles tight. Then lower slowly down. That’s one crunch.

Do three sets of 12 crunches. You can increase the numbers once this feels easy.

To make this move harder you can touch your head with your fingertips (don’t ‘pull’ on the back of your head). Try not to rest your shoulders on the floor in between crunches.

Tricep Dips

So far, we’ve worked the upper body, legs and abs. Now for the arms! Arm exercises are best done at the end of a workout as they require less energy than movements like push ups or chin ups. Tricep dips are one of the best bodyweight exercises for growing muscle in your arms and shoulders.

Many people spend a lot of time building their biceps, but the triceps muscles make up 2/3 of your arms. So it makes sense to focus on building them too.

To do tricep dips, all you need is a chair and a little bit of space.

Sit on the chair, with your hands beside you, gripping the edge of the seat. Straighten your legs out in front of you, heels resting on the floor. Push your body up and away from the chair using your arms.

Now lower yourself down until your elbows are at 90 degrees. Your bottom should be lower than the seat of the chair. Push back up until your arms are straight but not locked out. That’s one rep.

Start by doing four sets of 12 reps. Focus on doing the movement slowly and under control. Try to ‘feel’ your arms working and don’t jerk or use momentum.

Keep your elbows pointing back. Letting them point out to the sides will make the exercise easier and won’t target your arms as well.

To make this easier, you can bend your knees a little. The more you bend, the easier this exercise is.

Summary

Bodyweight training is a great way for teens to get fit, exercise and improve muscle size and tone. These five exercises are a great way to start working out and using bodyweight exercises anywhere.

Try doing these exercises consecutively in a workout. You could also do them in a circuit For example:

1 set each of:

  • Push ups

  • Squats

  • Chin Ups

  • Abdominal Crunches

  • Tricep Dips

Rest for two minutes and repeat three or four times. Both should take under an hour with a warm up.

Once you can do these exercises easily, you could also add in other bodyweight exercises. These are more advanced so you should focus on the basics before attempting these.

More advanced exercises include: Lunges, pistol squats, single leg dead lifts, ‘diamond’ push ups, plank, shoulder press.

Remember you should always speak to your physician when starting a new exercise routine and stop immediately if you feel sick or dizzy at any time.

Pullups for losing weight

How to Do More Chin-ups- The Easy Way

For the beginner, chin-ups are hard, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth it!

Even people who have been working out for long periods of time can sometimes find chin-ups to be difficult.

Chin-ups differ from pull-ups in the positioning of the hands (underhand grip vs. overhand grip), and are therefore slightly easier, but both exercises use the same muscles.

According to a paper published in 2010, the major muscles activated in both chin-ups and pull-ups are the latissimus dorsi (lats), biceps brachii (biceps), infraspinatus (one of the four rotator cuff muscles), lower trapezius (traps), and pectoralis major (pecs).

Proper Chin-up Form

With the knowledge of which muscles in your arms, back, and shoulders are used, how do you go about actually doing a chin-up with proper form?

The starting position for chin-ups is arms straight above your head, hanging from the bar.

Make sure that your legs are straight or in front of you, but never crossed.

Also, try to make sure your body has a slight hollow.

What this means is that your back is straight and your hips are in a slight thrust – the easiest way to do this is to squeeze your glutes while trying to pull your belly button to your spine.

From there, you want to pull yourself up to the bar, making sure not to flare your elbows.

Pull yourself up until your elbows are at your sides and your chest is at the bar, and then let yourself down again.

If you have trouble pulling yourself up, try to envision bending the bar. You will find yourself going up without telling yourself to pull up!

Kipping Chin-ups/Pull-ups

That’s the form for strict chin-ups or pull-ups. There’s a variation of these called kipping, which allows you to do more in a shorter period of time.

What is kipping?

A kipping pull-up is when you use your lower body to help propel you up, working out your upper body less than you would on a strict pull-up or chin-up.

With a kipping pull-up, you swing your legs and snap your hips to push yourself upwards.

There’s also an advanced variation called butterfly kipping, which is a continual-motion version of kipping, and gets you through your number of reps faster.

With butterfly kipping, you propel yourself upwards then let yourself drop, and repeat, rather than propelling yourself upwards but lowering yourself slowly and repeating.

Training Without a Pull-up Bar

So, now that you know what chin-ups and pull-ups are, and what kipping is, what do you do if you don’t have access to a bar on which to train?

The best thing about pull-ups is that you can train almost anywhere.

A tree branch, a door frame, many of the things you see in your everyday life could be a makeshift pull-up bar. (Some door-hinges might not be able to support you so be careful.)

But if you aren’t comfortable using those, there are some pull-up variations with weights that allow you to work the same muscles without having to use strange objects.Lat-Pulldown

The best non-bar variation is the lat pull-down, and while it does require you to have a gym and specific equipment, it’s the best alternative to doing pull-ups.

If you don’t have access to a gym, you can also do exercises that work the same groups of muscles using either a barbell or a set of dumbbells.

One of the best exercises to do is a shoulder-press.

To start, lift the weight(s) over your head with an overhand grip (palms facing away from the body).

Your arms and back should be completely straight.

Pull your shoulders down and back, bringing the weight to your chest.

Return to the starting position and repeat.

Chin-up Variations

In addition to your average chin-up, your pull-up, and your kipping pull-up, there are variations to make chin-ups easier or harder, depending on your fitness level and how well you perform chin-ups.

For Beginners

If you are a beginner, rather than jumping right in with full chin-ups, you can start with rows or chin-up negatives.

A negative chin-up is when you start from the top of the chin-up position, rather than from the bottom.

This means that you jump up, put your chin over the bar, and then slowly lower yourself down until your arms are straight.

When you can do 10 negatives in a row with good form, then you can usually move on to the normal chin-ups.

Negatives can still be difficult for some, so using a resistance band to assist with pull-ups is also an option.

Loop the band over the bar, put one foot or knee in the band, and allow it to help move you up towards the bar.

This way, your body understands the movement that you are going for, while you still do not yet have to lift your entire weight yourself.

If you can pump out normal chin-ups easily, why not try some variations to make them harder so you can work more of your muscles?

Advanced VariationsWeighted-Vest-for-Chinups-and-Pullups

One of the easiest ways to push yourself after getting better at pull-ups is to add a weighted vest to your routine.

While pull-ups are normally considered a bodyweight exercise, with the addition of a weighted vest, you can push yourself even further and really work those back, shoulder, and arm muscles.

Another popular variation is the one-armed pull-up, although sometimes this is the most difficult, as it requires more balance than any of the other variations.

Just perform the pull-up as usual, but keep one arm off of the bar.

The position of your arm doesn’t matter, as long as your body is centered and you are pulling through the entire motion.

Training Frequency

So now that you know what to do, how to do it, and how to make it harder, you may be wondering how often you need to engage in these exercises.

Most trainers will tell you to do pull-ups as often as possible – they can be done between sets of other exercises at the gym, or every time you walk through a doorway at home.

The more you do over the course of a day, the better you will become at chin-ups and pull-ups.

You can also change the kind of pull-up you are doing day-to-day, to increase your range.

But be sure to take a rest day when you need one, as your muscles need rest to grow.

These are the pull-up basics, along with variations.

Keeping this in mind, train hard, and one day you will be able to pump out pull-ups without issue!