Belk Gym

Whether you don’t feel comfortable going to the gym or don’t have access to equipment, there are plenty of other exercises you can do in your room. Since these are all body-weight exercises, meaning that they’re completed with no extra weight, they limit the progress you can make gaining muscle. However, they are still extremely useful for getting in shape, strengthening your body and overall improving your health.

Here are three basic parts of your body to hit:

Abs. If you love ab exercises, stop settling for just sit-ups. While sit-ups are a perfectly acceptable exercise, chances are they have become a boring default. V-sits, leg-lifts, bicycles, Russian twists and planking are all efficient alternatives or additions to sit-ups. This variety will target all parts of your core.

Leg-lifts will strengthen your lower stomach. Lie on your back with your legs straight out in front of you and slowly move them up and down, keeping your legs straight and your lower back pressed against the ground as much as possible. Don’t let your feet touch the floor; instead, with each rep, let your feet hover just above the ground.

V-sits are a combination of leg-lifts and sit-ups. Begin by lying down with your legs straight out in front of you. Come up for a sit-up, clasping your hands together in front of your chest, and lift your legs at the same time so your entire body resembles a v-shape. Completely straightening out your legs is difficult, so you can modify the exercise by folding your knees inward every time you sit up.

Bicycles are modified crunches. Instead of moving your upper body up and down, twist so that your right elbow meets your left knee and vice versa. The exercise is named because your legs make a circular motion akin to pedaling a bicycle as you twist.

Russian twists are done sitting up and leaning back slightly, knees bent in front of you. Lift your feet slightly above the floor and twist left and right while trying to keep your legs as still as possible. If you can, touch each side as you twist.

Legs. Squats, lunges and step-ups target both your thighs and glutes.

Squats and lunges are common, but be careful to keep your knees in line with your ankles when doing these exercises. In both squats and lunges, your knees should not go over your feet or you’re likely to injure yourself.

Any apartment complex or dorm building has stairs, so you can do step-ups pretty much anywhere. Start at the bottom of the staircase and step up to the second or third stair with one leg, bringing the opposite knee up to your hip. If balancing this way is difficult, then just step up with both feet before stepping back down.

Arms. Push-ups are the default but useful upper-body exercise. Others include commandos and various forms of planking, which can be done on elbows or hands.

The most important aspect of planking is engaging your core and keeping the line of your body as straight as possible. If your back arches outward or your stomach sags downward, you could injure yourself or miss out on the full benefits of the exercise. Additionally, keeping your shoulders in line with your hands or elbows will help you balance.

Commandos work both abs and arms and are performed by transferring between hand and elbow plank position. Begin in a planking position on your hands and then lower one elbow to the ground, following with the other so you end up in a planking position on your elbows. Your forearms should be pressed against the ground, elbows set directly beneath your shoulders.

Without breaking that position, place one hand on the ground, then the other, to push yourself up into the original planking position on your hands. Your body will twist slightly as you go back and forth between positions, but try to keep unnecessary movement to a minimum by engaging your core. Remember to keep your back as straight as possible. Your stomach should be as sore as your arms after this one.  

If you’re really looking to do other upper-body exercises but don’t own any weight, other items can work. Textbooks and water jugs have been my most practical alternatives in the past. You can do bicep curls or other lifts with the water jug handle. Since textbooks are more cumbersome, using two hands to lift them in front of you or holding them to supplement ab workouts are the best options. However, you should also be aware of the sturdiness of the items you use and your grip strength. Any exercising comes with risk, but that risk may increase if you are using non-standard items to work out, so be careful.

Ultimately, there are several alternatives to the gym, so don’t let a lack of equipment discourage you from getting fit. These are just some of the many exercises you can do in the comfort of your own apartment or dorm.

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