040716 A better you, by you

040716 A better you, by you


This group of exercises was designed specifically for the traveler, or for those who cannot get to the gym every day to work out. Some are pretty easy but they rapidly become more difficult depending on the particular one a person may choose from the list of options available. A length of surgical tubing or a jump stretch band enhances the difficulty of these exercises.


These exercises have been used on the road by the author and by the students in his strength training classes as an introduction into bodyweight exercises. They are enjoyable and challenging to do. Simply changing the rest time in between each movement offers an unending scale of difficulty while at the same time helping to increase the aerobic capabilities of the series.

Many are ideal for the busy Mom with a small child used as added resistance. For example, the calf raises, push ups and squats provide a fun way for a Mom and her child to have fun and for her to model the healthy lifestyle by exercising together. As a precaution the child obviously has to be held carefully so as not to fall and get hurt.

This series of exercises will encompass these major muscle groups: Chest, arms, shoulders, abdominals, back, and legs. Pick one or two different exercises out of each group and do ten to twenty repetitions for each one unless stated otherwise.

Gradually decrease the time it takes to do the exercises so your pulse rate is kept high, but keep good form throughout the session on all the movements.

It is also recommended that you keep a logbook as it will help guide you along in your quest for better health by showing you where you started and where you are at now. It provides incentive and encouragement.

Warm up

Rope skipping three to five minutes of single hit hops. Do these as rapidly as possible while maintaining control-added difficulty is gained by double spins on one hop multiple times in succession

Neck three to ten times each direction for all the neck warm-ups

Move your neck in circles

Move your neck up and down on your chest

Move it from side to side

Move it around in both clock wise and counter clock wise directions, analog, not digital

Limb rotations; dynamically move them around in circles-begin slowly but add speed as you continue to warm up. Ten to fifteen each limb

Cat and camel for the low back

Bodyweight squat; full range of motion rapidly performed ,but without a bounce at the bottom-maintain the solid back brace position for ten to twenty repetitions.


Push up and down the stairs-five to ten repetitions at each step both up and down, add a clap between the up and down portions (Description: start in an incline pushup position at the top of the stairs or at least six to seven steps up from the bottom. Drop down a stair after each five to ten push ups. Continue down each stair until you reach the bottom and are in a regular push up stance on the floor. Now place your feet on the lowest stair step. Work your way back up to the top or six or seven steps up by doing a clap in between each repetition. Added difficulty may be gained by doing these on a medicine ball at each step of the way-a play on words so to speak.

Off set push-ups; one hand under the shoulder the other one to three hands out from the shoulder.

Added difficulty; with a ball under either hand, especially the farthest out hand perform the push up

Added difficulty; extend your offset arm farther to the front of your head beginning with one to two hands offset to the side and in front and execute the push up

Pike push ups; maintain straight legs throughout the series. Begin in the normal stretched out starting point, after each push up move your hands back toward you feet one hand space. Continue until you are in a pike position.

For added difficulty on all but the offset push ups, hold your hands close to one another, touching together

Abdominals/lower back

The big three; Dr. Stuart McGill’s adapted from Ultimate back fitness and performance available at http://www.backfitpro.com

Curl ups

Side bridges

Arm and leg extensions

360’s; hold each position for three to five seconds for five to ten repetitions for two to three sets. Do multiple sets ONLY if the form is perfect for each repetition. These are also referred to as ‘Planks” in some training literature.
Upper back/biceps/forearms and grip

Chin up with the rope; hold onto the rope doubled up and held with both hands on the single double rope. Progress to holding onto a single rope end in each hand as you do a chin up.

Added difficulty

Adding external weight

Legs held to the front at a ninety degree angle to the upper torso

Swinging side to side or front to rear on the rope as you do a chin up.

One leg bench squat; move the forward leg both in and out from the bench for added difficulty and avoidance of boredom.

One leg wall squats; added difficulty by standing on a balance pad and leaning against a stability ball or standing on the toes.

Toe squats with hands held over the head add an extra measure of difficulty for all the squats, as will doing these on a balance pad or a big pillow with the feet touching one another.

Hamstring strength; hook feet under a couch bottom, and then lean forward. Try to go farther each time until you are able to go all the way down and then rise back up again without assistance.

Calves sets of twenty-five to one hundred repetitions per set. Begin by first standing up right, other variations are done bent over the kitchen cabinet in a donkey calf raise, on stair steps, on one foot, during a lunge, wall squat, ball squat, or squat

Lower back/abdominals

Walk outs; begin in the regular push up position with the arms held straight, move your buttocks go up and down. Gradually, while still keeping your arms straight, move the rest of your lower body farther and farther away from the top of your head. Maintain the solid and controlled body position at all times. These are not meant to be ballistic movements.

Added difficulty

Place your straight arms on a couch or chair that is secure against a wall and gradually move your feet backwards. This drastically increases the difficulty of the exercise and should only be done by those without back or shoulder problems.

Back extensions from the floor; hold for increasing lengths of time to build lower back endurance. DO NOT raise your legs at the same time as your back is raised upward.

Cool down

Static stretch

Walk around to finalize the cool down process

Get on with your day