Using your own body weight instead of a machine does more for your core, that is your abdominal and back muscles; and helps stabilize your body during athletic performance. Core training is very important for back injury prevention and optimal athletic performance — transmitting and attenuating forces from ground forces and initiated muscle forces, to legs, to trunk, to arms, for example.
Here are exercises you can do with your own body weight and minimal devices (in some exercises: dumbbells, parallel bars and a chin-up bar):
Push-ups have many variations. Palms on ground, fists on ground, or fingers on ground. Close-hand position prioritizes elbow flexion and works the triceps more. Wide-hand position prioritizes force transmission at horizontal adduction and works the pectoralis muscles and shoulder muscles more.
Pull-ups (grip palms toward face)
Pull up body weight with hands on high bar.
Advanced progression: grip a towel wrapped around the bar.
Chin-ups (grip palms forward)
Pull up body weight with hands on high bar. Chin-up grip works the forearms and brachioradialis elbow flexors because the position puts the biceps brachii in a less-worked position and the brachioradialis in a more worked position. Also the stabilization at the wrist in holding the hanging body weights involves wrist extensor muscles, compared to wrist flexor muscles in the Pull-up.
Squats with Arms Overhead
Hands overhead stretches the Latissimus Dorsi muscle, which helps whole body coordination and functioning with squatting. Squat multiple times, keeping the low back neutral and allowing the pelvis to tilt anteriorly on the way down (hips joints go into flexion). Posterior tilt of the pelvis on the way upright for each repetition.
Dumbbells at the side or medicine ball held in front during each lunge repetition. Perform repetitions “in place” or progress across the court or playing field.
Lunges with Elbow to Instep and Extension
Step forward into lunge position with your left foot. Lower your chest until left forearm touches floor inside of your left foot. Straighten your left leg and stand upright. Repeat for right side.
Begin in a raised push-up position, then walk your feet toward hands keeping your legs straight. When your feet reach your hand, walk your hands out until you are back in push-up position. Repeat.
For an advanced progression of this exercise. Start in a lowered push-up position do one push-up “up” rep at the start, then do one push-up in between each new rep (after your hands walk out from your feet).
Single-Leg Anterior Reach
Step onto left foot and hinge at waist until right leg and chest are parallel to ground. Extend right arm. Repeat on right leg. (Sort of how a golfer picks up a golf ball.)
Straight Leg March
Keeping legs straight, kick them up to shoulder level in walking, alternating fashion. tis is an advanced exercise. Keep your abs tight to stabilize your low back. Don’t let this exercise be your first exercise because without a warmup you are at more risk of a hamstring pull or aggravating sciatica with this exercise.
Perform alternating hip flexion with high, flexed knees in slow controlled manner while progressing across the court or playing field. Advanced progression: hold each knee high in the hip-flexed position for one or more seconds.
Rapid High Knees (in place)
Perform alternating hip flexion, high knees quickly with out progressing across the court or playing field.
Rapid High Knees (upfield)
Perform alternating hip flexion, high knees quickly progressing forward down the playing field or court.
Rapid High Knees (in reverse)
Perform alternating hip flexion, high knees quickly while moving backwards on the court or playing field. Use a spotter to avoid collisions with people or objects.
Push-up to Pull-up
One push-up on the floor under a chin bar and then jump upright and perform one pull-up. Repeat one:one ratio until exhausted.
For advanced progression, have a training partner call out varying ratios. For example: “Two push-ups, three pull-ups” “Five push-ups, two pull-ups.”
More coming soon …