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5 Great Bodyweight Exercises

Looking to get into better shape without a gym membership or home-based hardware?  You have a third option: exercises that require no more than your body's own weight. Here are five of the most effective.

Bird-Dog

Developing a  strong core is crucial to any fitness program. Bird-dogs not only help stabilize your core and spine but also strengthen your abs, glutes and lower back while promoting better body awareness and coordination.

1. Start on hands and knees, with knees hip-width apart and directly over your feet, and hands directly under your shoulders, fingers facing forward. Look directly down at the floor.
2. Pull in your core muscles. Then slowly extend your left leg backwards until it is at, or near parallel, to the floor without any rotation in the hip. Your goal is to keep both hips parallel to the floor.
3. Slowly raise your right arm until it is at, or near parallel, to the floor without any tilting at the shoulders. Your goal is to keep both shoulders parallel to the floor.
4. Gently lower yourself back to your starting position and repeat with the opposite limbs.

Plank

This deceptively simple exercise is another way to build core strength and coordination. Plank also helps you improve your balance, body alignment and posture.

    1. Take the position of a pushup, spine straight and arms extended, placing your hands under your shoulders. For added stability, squeeze your glutes and keep your toes on the floor.
    2. Focus on something on the floor and keep your head in line with your back. Hold this plank position for at least 20 seconds while maintaining your form.
    3. To increase your effort go into Mountain Climber by pulling your right knee into your chest, then going back into Plank before pulling the other knee in .Keep rotating sides and focus on bringing your knees in and out as far and as fast as you can.

    Pushup

    Another standard exercise (although not always done with correct form), pushups work muscles in the chest, upper back, shoulders and arms while also improving flexibility and balance.

      1. Kneel down on all fours with your hands about shoulder-width. Lean forward until your shoulders are directly over your hands.
      2. Extend your feet behind you, toes pointed forward, keeping your body in a straight line and your core engaged.
      3. Push up, keeping your head aligned with your spine, then slowly lower yourself until your chin or chest touches the floor.

      Squat

      Squats are good calorie burners; they work muscles not only in your lower body but in your core as well.

        1. Stand with your heels planted shoulder-width apart.
        2. Engage your core while keeping your chest up and neck in a neutral position. Then bend your knees while pushing your hips back, creating a sitting motion.
        3. Raise your arms in front of you so that they are parallel to the floor as you complete the motion.

        4. Pause and briefly rest in the position as your thighs become parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position by pushing up through your heels.

        Superman

        Fly into Superman to target the muscles in your lower back while also strengthening your upper back, glutes and hamstrings.

          1.Lie on your stomach on a mat with your legs extended, toes pointing away from your shins, arms extended overhead with palms facing each other. Relax your head to align it with your spine.
          2. Exhale, contract your core muscles and slowly raise both legs a few inches off the floor while simultaneously raising both arms a few inches off the floor; avoid any rotation in the limbs, arching in the back or raising of the head. Hold this position briefly.
          3. Gently inhale and lower legs and arms back to the starting position without any movement in the low back or hips.

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          **These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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