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Body weight resistance in strength training

Published:Wednesday | March 28, 2012 | 12:00 AM

By Kenneth Gardner

Body weight exercises can provide the ideal resistance needed in strength training. Push-ups, squats, lunges, pull-ups, chin-ups, dips, rowing and their variations are a few of the primary body-weight exercises that build core strength.


Push-up is a classic body-weight exercise that develops strength. It can be performed with many variations, including resting the knees on the floor which is recommended for females, using a wide or narrow hand positions and using of one arm. The Hindu push-up is considered as one of the most challenging. Start in the up position of a regular push-up with your feet spread wider than your shoulder width. Move your hands backward and inhale deeply as your rear end goes up. Keep your head down, and arms and legs straight. Bend your elbows so that your body comes forward. Arch your back so that you are looking towards the ceiling. Straighten your arms and exhale as you lower your rear end and return to the starting position.

Hindu Squats

Hindu Squats help to develop the strength of legs and lower body. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms extended in front at shoulder height. Inhale deeply and keep your trunk straight as you bend your knees to lower your body into a sitting position and extending your arms behind your back. When you are in the sitting position, push up on your toes, straighten your legs and swing your arms forward to the starting position.

The lunge

The lunge provides a variety of arm movements that emphasise the development of strength in a variety of positions in which we use our arm position providing a different emphasis and degree of difficulty in the development of strength in our arm.


Crunches are crucial to strengthening abdominal muscles. The standard crunch is performed on the back with shoulders off the floor while abs are contracted. In the reverse crunches, legs and knees are raised off the floor while abs are contracted. The combo crunch is a combination of both the above. The bicycle crunch includes all of the above as legs are pedalled.


Dips are performed by sitting on a bench or chair then sliding forward elbows at 90 degree angles and supporting body weight on the hands. Legs bent at about 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor, lower body until elbow is at a 90-degree angle, then extend them as you get stronger until you are dipping on your heels with feet stretched out in front.

Pull-ups, chin-up

Pull-ups, chin-ups and the flex-arm hang are excellent strength-training exercises that can be adapted via a number of grips, arm, leg and body positions. However, persons who are overweight or obese may need to reduce their weight to perform these safely.

Dr Kenneth Gardner is an exercise physiologist at Holiday Hills Research Center; email: