My Body is My Gym – Easy Workouts Without a Gym.
Do you really need a gym or a personal trainer to achieve that chiseled, buff physique, complete with washboard abs, sculpted muscles, and a firm gluteus maximus known to many as the rear-end or derriere?
Contrary to popular belief, you DO NOT need a gym membership to embark on a fitness journey. When I made the decision to get “in shape,” I did as much research as possible. I read articles, spoke to fitness buffs, and downloaded multiple apps on my phone. These provided vital literature that outlined exercise routines attainable utilizing your body weight, as opposed to some ergonomic gym machine.
There are some factors to consider here:
-Your body is the personal template from which you are working. If there’s anyone that should understand your body weight, mass, and tendencies, then that’s you.
– Do not try to attain goals or expectations set by others, but use your potential as a starting point.
– Refrain from idealizing a cooker-cutter model or a one size fit all concept.
Make short term goals and implement a checklist to document your journey as you accomplish each milestone.
I’m not against gyms or personal trainers, because quite frankly, many people need that added push or motivation to succeed. When we see others around us and share our stories, it serves to formulate a common dynamic so we can encourage, uplift, and motivate each other as we go along.
But what about those who have a hectic schedule or prefer to exercise in the comfort of their own homes? There are other valuable options which can be just as effective.
If you live close to a park or parkway, this is a useful resource for doing cardiovascular exercises such as running, jump-roping, biking or even walking. Cardios are essential since these activities increase the heart rate, which causes a higher rate of blood circulation in the body to supply the cells with oxygen. We need oxygen for respiration, which provides energy and utilizes fats and glucose in the process. In short, we burn sugars and fats!
Based on your fitness goal, strengthening and toning should be a huge component. When force is exerted on our muscles, it causes the muscle fibers to stretch and tear. Repair and regrowth of these fibers is what leads to a growth in these tissues and an increase in muscle mass. With this, there’s the ability to do even more exercises from renewed energy and vigor in the muscle tissues.
How I toned and strengthened.
When you decide to embark on your fitness journey, all parts of the equation should be accounted for. It is culmination of key factors such as diet, rest, and exercise that will help you to achieve your fitness goal, because these work in tandem to give you the final outcome. In this article I will give a quick overview of some of the exercise activities that helped to dramatically change my body.
There were two devices that proved invaluable in my program, by adding variety and an easy way for me to challenge myself. One is the resistance band, useful for bicep curls, squats, chest presses, shoulder presses, triceps extensions, as well as calf raises. They are easy to store, in fact, will readily fit inside your purse, plus these guys are inexpensive (double check here). The other tool is the exercise ball. Yes, that big ball which reminds you of a beach ball, can be squishy if not properly inflated, and made you reread the manual after you seriously wondered if it was a toy or a work out tool.
Supplements I Used.
I took multivitamins which are essential for overall body functioning. Vitamins are natural substances found in food, but face it, how many of us are actually consuming a well-balanced diet, with all the essential nutrients, in their correct proportions?
Creatine Monohydrate – Creatine is a chemical produced in the body from amino acids (building blocks of proteins). It causes an increase in the production of ATP (an energy storage currency in the cell), which gave me more energy thus improved performance and increased muscle mass.
*****Drink Water! – Stay hydrated. When you sweat, you lose water. Drinking water helps to replenish this fluid loss. There are other liquids that contain electrolytes (such as Gatorade) that also help to restore electrolyte loss, but my love-hate relationship with Gatorade is another story we’ll visit elsewhere.
Some of my exercises.
I used circuit training, a method of quickly rotating between exercises with little or no rest between sets. Other times, I did a combination of the exercises listed below in 3 sets of 12 reps. (A rep is the short for repetition, number of each exercise done, while a set refers to a series of repetitions). I usually rest for 30-60 seconds between sets before transitioning to a new exercise.
Cardios – Some of the cardiovascular exercises that I energetically and enthusiastically executed were: jumping jacks, jump-roping, or jogging for about 5 minutes.
– Push-ups – This was my greatest challenge. When I started out, I couldn’t do a single push up even if my life depended on it. Now I can ecstatically say that I’m no longer limited to the “girly” push-ups on my knees, but have graduated to the hard core military-style push-ups that the drill sergeant barks down the ears of new recruits. The push up is a total body exercise that works the triceps, core, and abdominals. The best advice I’ve gotten regarding push-ups is to do what you can manage. If you can only manage sets of 1 rep, then so be it.
– Bicep Curls – Excellent for achieving those “guns” that should be an incentive for anyone to work out. Think Michelle Obama’s toned arms. Need I say more?
– Planks – Great way to add variety to your abdominal exercises. Do you remember a couple years ago when Facebook posts were flooded with images of people playfully and amusingly planking? Planks are actually useful exercises that engage the core muscles, by holding a fixed position for an extended period.
– Lunges – These are lower body exercises that work the quadriceps, gluteals and legs.
– Crunches – Who doesn’t want to have those rock hard, washboard abs? They are absolutely attainable. I mostly used the workout ball for this exercise as it provided the much need support and cushioning for my back.
– Squats – Let’s talk bootylicious bod. Essentially, a Brazilian butt lift without the cost, pain or knife. Squats also strengthen the leg muscles (quadriceps, hamstrings and calves) which are essential for stability.
Dips – This one is useful for working the triceps muscles. At home, you can use a couch or a chair for triceps dips.
Some Common Health/Fitness Myths.
Perhaps the biggest myth I’ve heard is that you should drink eight glasses of water every day. Where is the scientific research and detailed findings to support this theoretical jive? You need to consume water according to the needs of your body. Someone who is extremely active, for example a construction worker in the glaring sunlight, might need to consume a lot more than eight glasses. On the other hand, a person who is predominantly sedentary may not need to drink as much. Of course there are other variables such as age, weight and health related factors to consider.
Another common myth is that if you don’t keep up with your workout routine, your toned muscles will be converted into fat. Erroneous! Muscle and fat are two physiologically different tissues, and there is no inter conversion from one form to the other when you don’t exercise. A lack of exercise will result in “muscle atrophy” where there is a loss of muscle mass so they no longer appear firm and toned. It is not a change into fat which causes this effect.
My point here is that there is a lot you can accomplish by working out on your own. I was able to slowly sculpt and define certain areas of my body using simple exercises. Making excuses that you cannot get to the gym are neither acceptable nor compelling. A toned and healthy body begins with you. Do what works well for your body, and start your challenges gradually without trying to accomplish too much at once. Rely on your own creative juices and autonomy when you embark on any mission or journey. You don’t have to be a slave to notions like “you have to do this” or “do it this way” because after all, this only suppresses your individuality and stifles your creativity.