The never-ending cold and snow has made it easy to skip the gym. Who wants to dig the car out and brave icy, barely plowed roads just to work out? Even the T has thrown in the towel at times. But as the inches pile up on streets, sidewalks — and midsections — it’s time to take action. If going out is too much of a trial, there is a simple alternative for a complete workout at home: body-weight training. These exercises help build strength and flexibility and don’t require any specialized equipment as they primarily use your own body weight as resistance. Besides being efficient and economical, body-weight training, which is a critical component of popular workout programs such as Crossfit, has been called a top fitness trend for 2015 by the American College of Sports Medicine. We asked Celtics strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo to create a regimen of exercises that hit all the major muscle groups, with versions for beginning, intermediate, and advanced exercisers.
FOR YOUR LEGS:
Sit on a chair with feet flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart. Place one ankle on the top of the opposite knee so your thigh and calf form a triangle. Keep your stabilizing leg bent and lean forward, making sure your back stays straight. Hold it for 20-30 seconds. Do it 2-3 times. Make sure you feel a stretch in the hip, butt, and back of your leg as opposed to your groin. If you feel a stretch in your groin area, move your foot up on your thigh. Switch legs and stretch the other side. Those less flexible should try this stretch seated on the floor.
FOR YOUR ARMS:
While seated, lift your arms above your head, bend one elbow behind your head. Grab that elbow with the opposite hand and hold it in place. You should feel a pull in your tricep. Hold it for 20-30 seconds. Do it 2-3 times. Then repeat the moves with your other arm. If this proves too easy, stand up, grab a towel with one hand, and bend that arm at the elbow behind your head. Reach behind your back with your other hand, grab the bottom of the towel, and pull down to stretch. Repeat with the other arm.
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Extend your arms so they are parallel to the ground. Bend your knees so your rear sticks out, your back remains straight, and your chest is up tall. Do 10-15 reps. Make sure you can see your toes the entire time: If your knees bend over your feet, “push your tush” and keep your back straight. Keep your belly taut. Beginners can hold the back of a chair or a wall to stabilize. The more advanced can fill a backpack with books and wear it backwards, with the pack against your stomach.
If you’re doing it right: You should feel this exercise in the tops and backs of your legs, as well as your core.
Assume a push-up position, with your hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart and your feet together. Your back should be at a slight angle. Bend your arms till your chest is an inch or two above the floor or as close as you can get to this. Keep your back straight. Tighten your backside and stomach to help keep your back straight. Do 10-15 reps. Beginners, grab a chair and do your reps with your hands either on the armrests or the seat. Advanced exercisers should try it with one foot off the ground, keeping their hips square to the ground.
If you’re doing it right: You should feel a burn in the back of your arms and in the shoulders and chest.
Lie on your back, with your arms at your side, palms facing down, knees bent, and your feet shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your butt cheeks and core and lift your midsection so it creates a triangle with your legs and the ground. Alternate straightening one leg as you lift while keeping your hips square. Do not arch your back. Do 10-15 reps. Beginners can leave out the lifted leg. Pros can alternate lifting a knee to their chest.
If you’re doing it right: You should feel it in the back of your legs and your core.
With your arms bent and your forearms and toes on the ground, hold your body aloft. Flex your stomach, draw your belly in, and flatten your back for about 30 seconds. Do 10-15 reps. Beginners can do this with their knees on the ground. Pros can stretch an arm straight forward or a leg backward or to the side at an angle as they tense their core. If you find your body twisting, go back to the regular plank.
If you’re doing it right: You should feel in your core, not your arms or lower back.
Grab two full spray or water bottles and stand up straight, holding one bottle in each hand. Lift your arms so they’re straight in front of you, creating a 90-degree angle. Swing your arms sideways, creating a “T.’’ Keep your stomach tensed and back relaxed. Don’t lock your elbows or knees. Return to your original position then bring the bottles down. Do 10-15 reps. Beginners do just the first forward lift. The more advanced can rotate their arms inward once they’ve lifted the bottles in front of them and before the “T.’’ The longer your arms stay up, the harder the workout. Keep your shoulder blades squeezed back, so your neck does not tighten up.
If you’re doing it right: You should feel the fire in the top and back of the shoulders.
Some of the basic positions resemble push-ups. Get into a push-up position with your feet on the ground and hands on the arms of a chair. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, then relax. Do 10-15 reps. Beginners can star out sitting in a chair. The advanced can get into a push-up position on the ground while doing the exercise. Make sure you do not scrunch your neck, as you want your upper back to work and not your neck.
If you’re doing it right: You should feel it in your shoulders and upper back.