I like using my own body weight for resistance – it’s efficient, you flow and it can be challenging. Here are some common ways to strengthen your core and arms.
Plank- This tried and true exercise is a good one when done correctly. The ideal position is you’re planted on the toes, legs extended, hips, trunk and shoulders all lined up and arms extended under the shoulders. The thing to focus on is that back doesn’t sway down and your hanging on your shoulders and hips. Make sure you engage your core, keeping your stomach and back contracted so it’s in a straight line.
To make the exercise harder you can increase the time you spend in plank, 30 seconds to 1 minute at a time. You can straighten 1 leg behind you and hold so you’re bearing the weight on 3 limbs. Alternate legs and increase your time.
If you’re still working your way up to plank, then you can come down so your knees are touching, but extend the hips and tighten your core. Don’t flex / bend the hips. Alternatively, you can assume plank with the legs straight and raised and instead bear weight on your elbows lined up under your shoulders.
Side Plank- A step up from plank, this exercise is a great one. To start you can move into it from plank – push off one arm, rotate your legs, hips and trunk up so your side is now facing up. Ideally the legs are stacked and your weight is on the bottom foot, but if needed you can place the top foot down in front of the other foot. This helps if you’re feeling unsteady.
With the legs and trunk straight, the weight bearing arm is extended under you – this might be your side plank to start. Make sure to lift out of your arm and use your core to keep your trunk straight, instead of collapsing and letting your hips fall down.
To take it up a bit straighten the other top arm, so it’s lined up with the arm you’re supporting the weight on. Turn your head and look up at your hand. If you’re real steady try to lift your top leg. Keep it in line with your bottom leg and hold. Same goes for side plank, gradually increase your time. When you’re finished, repeat on the other side.
Push-ups- It seems silly to review how to do a push-up, but there’s a few things to think about. Get into your push-up position by starting with the arms, hands below your shoulders. I like a wide placement of my hands, after all these aren’t triceps push ups, so my hands are are wider that my shoulders, but directly below them. The core is engaged and trunk is straight. Go up on your toes with feet together or hip distance apart. If you’re not ready for the full push-up position slide your knees back until they’re diagonal to the hips. Keep your core engaged so it doesn’t sink and sway.
Lower yourself with the arms bending ideally to 90 degrees or a right angle. If this feels like too much just go as far a you can with perfect form, and build from there. There are variations such as a 1 leg push-up with one leg lifted. Once you’re down in your push-up with elbows bent try holding it there for several seconds. Finally you can bring the hands in close and point the elbows back, close to the trunk and do a push-up that will target your triceps. I generally do a set number, rest and repeat.
There’s other body weight exercises like triceps dips, spinal balance, burpees and more. But focus on these 3 and if you do them regularly I think you’ll see the difference. If your hands and wrists bother you during these exercises you can go down on your elbows for the planks and use wedges for the push-ups. Of course I personally wear my Wrist Assured Gloves when I’m doing floor exercises, because the wedge is built in. With WAGs on my hands I don’t have to worry about wrist pain and can focus on my exercises instead.