I Want to be active, but I’m stuck Inside!
As many of you know, I love to do Parkour. I’m not jumping around all the time to show off; I thoroughly enjoy the practice. When I see a fun piece of architecture calling my name, it can be very hard to resist. However, I really should be resisting. Why? I often find myself so addicted to the movements, that I often do not take the necessary time to build the proper strength to preform them. In the long run, this can be harmful on my body.
However, after the New Year the snow made it impossible to continue doing Parkour. And while working cooped up in my apartment all day, the urge to move and sweat was persistent.
As a result, I decided to get more serious about body weight strength training. The best part is, it is a practice I can do right from home. Not only does this save me time, but it allows me to strength train throughout the winter without having access to a gym (I unconsciously tried going to the IM building, only to get denied as I am not currently a student!).
I am still learning, but I want to share what I have been doing thus far as it has had a huge impact on my quality of life. For once, I feel alive during the winter! One important note is that this type of strength training builds strength relative to your body weight. This means you will not become some big beast doing this.
Most of what I have learned comes from Eat Move Improve, an incredible health and fitness blog. I highly recommend it, along with the author’s book, Overcoming Gravity as it really gets into detail about body weight strength training.
Okay, on to it!
Phase 1: Warm Up
Inside a 1 bedroom apartment, getting your blood pumping and your joints moving can be difficult. That is, unless you have a decent sound system! A fun (and goofy) way to get sweating in a confined space is to dance! Start by stepping back and forth to every other beat with your feet. Later, try to incorporate different movements and steps. Before long,your arms will be flailing, your hips bumping, and your feet twisting! Dancing not only breaks a sweat, but it helps warm up various joints and muscles in the process. Who cares if you have no idea what your doing. You’ll have more fun with it over time.
If you are too embarrassed by yourself to dance, then fine do some lame jumping jacks or something :p A few pull-ups or push-ups can get the blood pumping as-well.
For your amusement, you can watch a warm up session I did to my buddy GeorgeJungle‘s mix tape. Some great tunes to warm up to. Big thanks to him!
Phase 2: Joint Mobility
Unless you were going ham to some crazy dubstep, you should probably do some joint exercises. I start from my neck and work down my body doing simple joint rotations.
It is also important that we pay special attention to strengthening our wrists and shoulders. All upper body movements go through our shoulders so we have to be sure to keep them strong. Here are a few exercises to incorporate in the warm up:
Additionally, for many body weight exercises we are balancing on our hands, causing a lot of strain on the wrists. To help strengthen our wrists, the “rice bucket” is ideal. Next time you’re at Costco or Walmart, just grab a 20lb bag of rice.
Phase 3: Strength Training
This is a very basic approach to the fundamentals of body weight strength training. Routines could be different for everyone, this is just a basic introduction. For more specifics and details, please visit Eat Move Improve. Fundamentally, it is recommended for a beginner to do 2 push exercises, 2 pull exercises, and 1-2 leg exercises. Also, one should strive for the 2 pairs of push and pull exercise to include both horizontal and vertical motions. For example, for your two push exercise you could do dips (vertical push) and push-ups (horizontal push). Here is the routine I did today:
There are four main section, and they seem to be semi-categorized :
You can look up each exercise at each stage of the progression via Google; however the book (Overcoming Gravity) is the ideal resource for this. If you want to continue to progress throughout a specific exercise, it is recommended to keep the same routine week to week. I am still trying to find what works best for me, so I am in the process of experimenting,
Phase 4: Stretch Down
This improves flexibility and also helps in strengthening the hips and lower back. Usually a combination of splits, pike, and straddle stretches are recommended.
So, hope you found this interesting or at least mildly entertaining! Now that you know you can exercise inside a one bedroom apartment, you have no excuses :p As I progress and learn more, you can expect more posts in the future about body weight strength training.