When a most people think about losing weight or building muscle, they often think ‘gym,’ but gyms can be expensive, and many people find them awkward. Fortunately there is a whole world of body resistance exercises that set your body working against itself instead of against weights or resistance bands.
These exercises can be good at building muscle, burning calories, and increasing flexibility, but virtually no exercise will have all of these benefits, so having a variety of exercises is important to keeping the body healthy.
This article will discuss exercises that work out the whole body at once. These exercises can be a great way to workout a wide variety of muscles simultaneously, for people in a hurry but they can also be good at switching things up if you tend to do exercises that target specific areas of the body.
Yoga can Work Muscles You Didn’t Know You had
Yoga is mainly a practice that builds on flexibility and balance. Yoga can also contribute to muscle toning, but it’s not going to sculpt your body too heavily. That having been said, yoga can help you prepare your body for other exercises if you haven’t been too active lately, if you have mobility issues because of your weight, or if you have recently had surgery. Even if you don’t get into yoga for its own sake, some of the basic moves can be a great way to warm up before other exercises.
While you can get special mats, blocks, straps, and other accessories if you have the means, or think you’ll do enough yoga to justify the investment, I went without all of those expenses when my wife got me into yoga, and I still find it to be a rewarding practice that costs me literally nothing. There are a lot of yoga studios and instructors these days but easy to-find videos on the internet cost nothing and can be viewed at home as a great introduction to the practice.
There are different kinds of yoga that stress different aspects of the art, and one variety can be particularly helpful for weight loss. “Bikram” or “hot yoga,” involves going through a series of yoga poses very quickly, and usually in hot and humid conditions. By drawing heavily on the muscles, increasing heart rate and breathing, and utilizing some of the benefits of increased body temperature, this style of yoga can really burn calories. That having been said, it’s important to ease into this method, and not to push yourself too hard, as vigorous exercise in elevated temperatures can be dangerous.
Kick-boxing: Yoga’s Aggressive Friend
If yoga doesn’t sound like a good fit for you, but you like the sound of the benefits, the sport of kick-boxing has inspired a variety of exercises that work out the entire body. While finding printed guides or online videos for these exercises won’t turn you into a champion prize-fighter, kick-boxing exercises that don’t involve resistance can still get the heart going and burn a whole-lot of calories, as well as increasing endurance and speed that may make other exercises easier.
Kick-boxing burns more calories than most forms of yoga, but it doesn’t do nearly as much for flexibility or muscle toning. Adding resistance through wearable weights can help to build muscle, even if they may slow you down a bit. Usually slower-exercise means less calorie-burn, but if you slow down by adding weights it activates more muscle groups that burn more calories, as well as making a more complete exercise. No amount of optional add-ons will give kick-boxing the flexibility bonuses of yoga, however.
Swimming: Muscles Working against Water
Swimming is a good full-body exercise with a number of benefits. Because water provides resistance swimming tones muscles as they work against it. Unless you do it all the time, swimming won’t build muscles too much, but they are great at working muscles that many other exercises don’t, and at building endurance to make muscle-building exercises easier. Swimming is also great at burning calories.
The main muscle-groups that benefit from swimming are the arms and the legs that push and pull the body through the water, though some strokes also work out the muscles in the chest, upper back, and even the core.
Learning a variety of strokes will help keeping swimming fun, as well as ensuring a well-rounded workout.
Modifying Running and Jogging to Work More Muscles
Running and jogging are good exercises for the lower body, but with a little ingenuity and slight expense, they can also benefit the upper body, making them a great full-body work out.
When running or jogging, it is natural to pump the arms as well as the legs. This doesn’t do very much, however, because the arms are neither bearing weight nor working against resistance. This can be quickly changed, however, by carrying small weights, or getting weighted bands that can be strapped around the wrists.
Any weights that you use do not have to be very large, as they idea is to activate muscles so that they burn more calories, not to actually build muscle. Even five pound weights will help involve arm muscles that normally wouldn’t be doing very much.
It wasn’t mentioned in our article on lower-body exercises, but applying weighted bands to the ankles can help build muscle in the legs by adding even more to the burden that they already carry when moving the body.
Think about Jumping Jacks for the Fist Time Since Grade School
Good old-fashioned jumping jacks – Start standing with feel and arms together. Jump straight up while moving the arms and legs away from the body and then landing in the starting position. – are going to do virtually nothing for building and toning muscles, but they burn quite a few calories, and can increase flexibility and coordination to make other exercises easier.
Another quick exercise that you can do anywhere, even if you don’t try to work a few into your exercise regimen, can make a good warm-up before doing other more demanding exercises. Like the exercises listed above, putting some weighted bands on the wrists can help work the arms, chest, and upper back a little better if you want to get a little more out of this simple exercise.