There are literally hundreds of tools to strengthen and condition the human body. They range from barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, resistance bands, treadmills, ellipticals and so forth. We are always in persuit of the hottest gadget to help us reach our fitness goal(s). Now don't get me wrong I like new training tools just like the next person, but I think at times we forget the greatest piece of fitness equipment is our body. Some of the fittest people on the planet have learned to use their bodies as tools to accomplish great physical feats and awesome physiques. The first people that come to mind are gymnasts, marital artists and the military. Many of these guys build their fitness programs around squats, lunges, push-ups, running and rope climbing. Many of these exercises require very little space and almost no equipment at all. So without further adu, I like to present you with five body weight exercises you should regularly have in your strength and conditioning program.
1. Jump Rope
Jumping rope is a great conditioning exercise. It will not only build stamina, but many other physical skills such as coordination, speed, power and agility. There are so many ways to jump rope that the variations are only limited by the imagination. Some examples are single leg jumps, two feet hops, double unders and high knee jumps. If you really want to see some intensive jump roping watch one of Rocky's movies or attend a jump rope competition. Here is a quick fact, did you know that ten minutes of jump rope equals about 30 minutes of jogging? It's true, jumping rope is a very time efficient method of conditioning.
Anybody and everybody who knows me knows how passionate I am about this exercise. It is in my opinion the best upper body exercise you can do. Many people don't do it, well because its hard, but none the less necessary to learn. It strengthens the muscles of the back, chest, arms and stomach. To be able to do between 10-20 repetitions of chin/pull-ups put you in a elite level of strength. There are many variations of this exercise. For those, who are not able perform this exercise there are machines and bands that make it easier to do.
3. Single Leg Squats aka Pistols
This is another exercise that has many benefits. Before explaining how to do it, I would like to mention what you develop as result of performing this movement. You develop balance, phenomenal leg and core strength; the ability to run faster and jump higher. This exercise is performed basically by balancing on one leg and squatting as far to the ground as you can and standing back up. Its easier said then done. A easier way to accomplish this is by having a bench behind you to sit on to avoid the fear of falling.
4. Ab Roll out
The ab wheel has been around for a long time and is still probably the best invention to develop the core (abdominal, obliques and lower back). It can be bought at your local sporting goods store. All you do is hold the handles with your hands while starting in a kneeling fashion. While maintaining a flat back you will roll the wheel out in front of you as far as possible and return to your starting point, then repeat. I personally own two and my favorite is the power wheel developed by Jon Hinds from www.monkeybargym.com.
5. Hindu Push-ups
I first learned of this exercise from Matt Furey in this book called, "Combat Conditioning." It works all major muscle groups such as the legs, back, chest, shoulders, arms and stomach. Start with your feet wide apart, but up and head looking back at your heels. The legs remain straight throughout the exercise. Lower you hips and bend your arms. Finish with head up and back arched. Your hips should almost touch the floor. Now, keep your arms straight and push back to the starting position.
There you have it, my top five body weight exercises you should include in your fitness program. Any of the exercises can be seen on YouTube if your a visual person and like to see how these exercises are performed. Give them a try and watch how your fitness level takes a turn for the better.