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Working Out on the Homefront

by Anthony Stemke

Roughly half of all Americans say they exercise regularly. Want to join them? Maybe you don't want to join a gym because you lack the time or money -- or you are too embarrassed to exercise in front of other people. No problem. You can train at home and see great results.

You can work out in the convenience of your own home with no equipment, using exercises like calisthenics. Traditional push-ups are great for your arms and shoulders and can be made easier or more difficult, depending on the technique.

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For instance, you can put your feet up on a chair, or do one-handed pushups to make them more difficult. To make them easier, you can put your knees on the floor. A variation of the regular push-up is the wall-leaning vertical push-up. Start with your arms outstretched six inches from the wall; lean into the wall, and place your hands shoulder-width apart.

Continue the exercise by doing a regular push-up on the wall with your body straight. A chair dip, done by standing in front of a chair, placing your hands on the seat, dipping your hips until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle, and pushing back up again is a great exercise for your shoulders and triceps.

Sound ineffective? Not so much -- when Arnold Schwarzenegger was competing as a bodybuilder, he demonstrated exercises that required no equipment and proved that they were really tough. For instance, try one-legged squats. You may have to work up to them.

Solid, time-tested, home equipment includes dumbbells, barbells and a bench. You can work every muscle with this equipment. You won't even need a spotter with dumbbells because you have half the weight in each hand. If you look at the classified ads or in thrift stores, you can sometimes buy this equipment at little cost. If cost is a concern, you can use resistance bands and do an excellent job. Another option is to use a Swiss ball, which requires you to use additional muscles for stability.

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If cost is no object, there are great multi-exercise machines for the entire body that are compact, easy to use and easy to store. These machines, like the much-advertised Bowflex, offer a workout with a quick-to-change system for different exercises, saving you time. Because you can go from one exercise to the next very quickly, you can complete a total workout in less than 30 minutes. Using this kind of machine, two or three times a week, will provide a routine as good as any gym.


Some detractors may say the gym is better at keeping you motivated because other people are there. This doesn't have to be the case. You can turn on your favorite kind of music and have fun while you train. You will stay motivated knowing you don't have to waste time waiting for a particular piece of equipment to free up. It also helps to know you don't have to spend time traveling to and from the gym.

Safety concerns may cause some people to prefer a gym workout, because there is always someone there to aid you. But if you are careful at home, your chances of injury are slim. If you do need a spotter, just do those exercises when another family member is there to help you. The use of multi-exercise machines eliminates the need for spotters.

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If you want to workout at home, you can very successfully do so. Go for it, and make your body the healthy machine it was meant to be.