Gym Class Hero: 4 Best Bodyweight Exercises To Get Ripped

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High school gym class will forever be remembered not only for the fashion of coaches and teaches sporting grey cotton sweats and metal whistles, but for the countless push-ups, chin-ups and sit-ups that encompassed the daily routine. Whatever happened to those ‘old-fashioned’ exercises?  Believe it or not, being able to master the weight of your own body will not only make you look great, you will learn how to train three-dimensional movement, acquire a greater kinesthetic awareness and become empowered as you perform tasks with your own body.  

These are the 4 best bodyweight exercises to get jacked. 

fine magazine fitness pull ups may issueChin-Ups

From the time I first did chin-ups as part of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test in fifth grade, I was hooked; my fascination took me all the way to setting my junior high chin-up record of 24. The record has most likely been broken since, but the simple fact remains: at the time, I had the strongest biceps and forearms in my class. You can also get strong biceps, forearms, and upper back by doing chin-ups, as lifting your body a vertical distance of about two feet is no small task. 

How-to: Grab a chin-up bar or the handles of a jungle gym with palms facing body and hands shoulder-width apart. From a hanging position, pull body up until chin reaches above bar. Lower body until arms are fully extended. If you cannot do chin-ups with your body weight, use a weight-assisted machine.

Also Read: Best Gym and Healths Clubs in San Diego

fine magazine fitness push ups may issuePush-Ups

Push-ups are one of the best upper-body exercises, focusing on your arms and chest.

How-to: Kneel on ground with hands slightly less than shoulder-width apart and palms on ground, legs lifted off ground, with your back straight and parallel to ground. Women can modify this push-up position by placing knees on ground and flexed to 90 degrees with ankles crossed. Keeping back parallel to ground, lower body down until chest touches ground. Push back up until arms are straight. 

fine magazine fitness squats may issueSquats

The squat is one of the best lower body exercises, as it incorporates most of the leg muscles. 

How-to: Stand with feet shoulder-width or slightly greater than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight, bend your knees and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Move your hips back as if you are attempting to sit in a chair. Straighten your legs and stand up to return to the starting position.

Abdominal Crunches

In the never-ending quest for a flat stomach or six-pack abs, exercise equipment manufacturers have done everything they can to convince people to buy their products as the solution. But before you reach for the Ab Rocker sitting in the corner of the gym, remember that sometimes the old-fashioned way is best. There has been enough research comparing abdominal muscle activity between commercial abdominal equipment and traditional crunches to conclude that crunches are just as effective, or possibly better. 

How-to: Lay on your back on the ground, lift your legs, bend your knees, and cross your feet at the ankles. Place your hands across your chest or behind your head. Contract your abs, lifting your shoulder blades and upper back off the ground. Add resistance by holding a weight on your chest or by laying on a decline bench and curling your torso against gravity. You can also use variations, like twist crunches (twisting to one side while lifting torso), reverse crunches (raising legs and buttocks instead of torso), and V-sits (raising both torso and legs to create a “V” shape).

To get in the best shape of your life, contact Dr. Karp at jason@runcoachjason.com