As the new year approaches, and people start creating new year resolutions, most will add getting fit and healthy to their list.  For those of you that think you need to be a member of a gym to get fit, this couldn’t be further from the truth!  Some of the best exercises don’t require a gym membership at all and can be done in the comfort of your own home.  Here are a list of my top 10 exercises to get you fit for FREE…

 

  1. Push-ups – This exercise works a wide range of muscle groups. Your chest, back, triceps, shoulders, core, and quadriceps all gain fitness from this simple movement when performed properly. If you are finding a basic push-up is too difficult, you can always modify it by  having your knees touch the ground and eventually build up to a regular version of this exercise.
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  2. Squats – This exercise is another favorite of mine that only requires your own body weight.  The key to this movement is to not lock your knees once you stand back up due to the high stress that will place on your knee joints. Squats work your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves and low back. You will also notice your heart rate slowly creeping up the more you do which is always a bonus when trying to burn calories.   
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  3. Jumping Jacks – This ancient exercise is not only fun, but will take you back to grade school P.E. class! Most of us have not done this one in years, so you will want to slowly build your endurance up with these. I recommend starting with 3-5 sets with each set being only 20-30 seconds duration. Once you feel you have mastered this you can safely add more reps and duration. Not only does this exercise work your cardiovascular system, but will also work your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, core, and shoulders.
  4. Running/Walking – It is hard to mention any gym free exercises without including running or walking. Both are easily accessible anywhere in almost all weather,and will cost you $0. I find it is good to mix up both of these exercises or combine them into a walk/run session where you can gradually increase your duration. Nothing beats a good 30 minutes outside to get your heart rate up and enjoy some fresh air!
  5. Planks – Planks are one of the best core exercises around for several reasons and the only exercise that will work every muscle in your body.  You can perform planks anywhere and they will help flatten your stomach, work your lower back, increase the flexibility in your shoulder blades (which are probably too tight anyway,) increase your heart rate if you do them long enough, and last but not least they will improve your posture!  I recommend starting on the conservative side with 2 sets of 30 seconds each and take it from there. Planks can be a very difficult exercise if done correctly!  
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  6. Wall sits – Another one of my personal favorites! I find it is the ultimate quadricep burner and can be done anywhere as well. All you need is a wall to place your back against and bend your knees to a 90 degree angle. Start your watch and slowly increase your duration with each set you perform. If you have knee problems, you need to start VERY slowly with this exercise and build up over time. People with knee problems will gain some benefit from this exercise to help build your quadriceps up to give you more support for your bad knees.  
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  7. Single Leg Deadlift – Part of being fit is balancing all of your muscle groups.  This movement is a great exercise to balance the strength in your quads by working your hamstrings which is the muscle group that runs down the back of your leg from your glutes to your knees.  If you are a beginner to exercise or this exercise in particular, start by performing the deadlifts with both feet planted firmly on the ground.  Once you have mastered that, you can start performing single leg deadlifts.  
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  8. Superman – Not only will this exercise make you feel like Clark Kent, but it also will strengthen one of the most important muscle groups in your body which are in your lower back.  MANY people suffer from lower back pain, usually because they are sitting in a chair all day and have very weak core muscles.  The Superman focuses on strengthening the lower back and increases flexibility, which in turn helps decrease lower back pain and improves posture.  
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  9. Tricep Dips– This another great minimalist exercise that creates big gains. All that is required is a bench or chair to support your arms.  Performing 3 sets of 10 is a great way to start, slowly progressing your reps as you get stronger.  You will have what is called the “horse shoe” definition, or the muscle definition running down the backs of your arms in no time if you perform 3 sets 3-4 times a week!  
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  10. Arm Circles – Last but not least is the arm circle that you probably performed as a kid in P.E. in grade school.  You might be laughing right now at the thought of performing these, and may even think they are easy, but I challenge you to get up and try performing arm circles for 3 sets of 2 minutes each and see how your shoulders feel!   I have found this to be a great exercise to work your shoulders without the need of free weights or a machine.  Mix it up be performing small dime sized arm circles, and also making large basket ball circles.  The bigger circles will not only create strength in your shoulders but will also improve your flexibility in this region of your body.

 

 

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