#Fitfor2018: Physical Fitness

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An introduction to Physical Fitness

In 2007 my wife and I became pregnant with our first child. The nature of my wife’s pregnancy led to me, not her, gaining over 30 pounds by the time Connor was born. Physical fitness was the last thing on my mind until 2009 when we joined a gym for the first time. Since then, I’ve lost weight, gained it back, lost it again, gained some more, etc, etc, etc. It seems like I’ve been in this perpetual back and forth for what feels like forever!

Shortly after I joined TV 44, I began a new exercise routine at home. Granted, 2017 has been a much healthier year overall for me, but back in September is when things really changed. I have been consistently performing a high rep, low weight workout routine before I get to the office each morning.

The results? While the scale hasn’t changed much, my clothes are crazy loose. I’m leaner, stronger, and feel better. I’m not bulking up in a body builder way, but instead I’m exchanging fat for muscle.

This improvement in my physical fitness is where #Fitfor2018 was born. After seeing how small lifestyle changes made huge improvements in my overall health, I decided I wanted to share with you some similar beginner exercises you can do at home with almost no equipment.

Physical fitness can be intimidating. I was not an athletic kid and didn’t discover my love of running until college, so please don’t think I’m some kind of fitness expert. I’m just a regular guy who wants to see your health improve just like mine has — not by spending hours at the gym each day, but with routines that are easy to complete using just bottles of water. Each of these 7 exercises will be demoed by Jennifer Beck and are easy to follow along with.

First let’s look at how to complete a bench press.

Bench Press

“A what? A bench press?” If that was your first reaction, bear with me here. Before you think you need to invest in a weight bench, watch Jennifer’s video. Notice how she’s doing a “bench press like motion” — she isn’t laying down for this. She simply keeps the bottles of water at chest level and mimics the same move you would make if you were lying flat on your back.

Perform this for 8 reps, take a minute break, then do this for 8 more reps, take a minute break, and finish with 8 final reps.

Curls

Moving on to curls, you can do these either sitting or standing. In either scenario, let your arms hang loose at your sides with a bottle of water in each hand. Keeping your shoulder stationary, bring (or curl) your hands up to your shoulder in a slow and steady motion. This is working your biceps, or the top part of your upper arm.

Perform this for 8 reps, take a minute break, then do this for 8 more reps, take a minute break, and finish with 8 final reps.

Triceps

Triceps can be somewhat of a challenge to do at home, which is why the motion Jennifer demonstrates here is so helpful. Sitting on a chair, extend your arms straight out in front of you and put your hands on each end of just one bottle. Again, keeping your shoulder stationary, bring your hands up to your head. This is working your triceps, or the bottom part of your upper arm.

Perform this for 8 reps, take a minute break, then do this for 8 more reps, take a minute break, and finish with 8 final reps.

Squats

Squats primarily work your lower body, but have secondary benefits for your core. No water bottles are necessary for this exercise. Move your feet to shoulder width apart and cup your hands together, holding them still. Keeping your back as straight as you can, squat down and back up.

I find that I have had to build into squats. Depending on your physical fitness level right now, you may only want to do 8 reps of these to start out, gradually increasing to 9, and then 10, and so on in the coming weeks.

Shoulders

Sitting in a chair, grab a water bottle with each hand. With your palms facing outward, bring your hands up to shoulder height: this is your starting position. Now, keeping your arms straight, extend them all the way up slowly and then bring them back down to shoulder height. This exercise is working your shoulder muscles directly and upper back indirectly.

Perform this for 8 reps, take a minute break, then do this for 8 more reps, take a minute break, and finish with 8 final reps.

Planks

Plans work your entire core; we typically think of this as being your abdominal muscles, but your hips, back and even arms will get secondary benefits. Start on your hands and knees and extend your feet straight out. This is a slight modification of the traditional plan, which typically would have you resting on your forearms Hold this for just 10 seconds, gradually increasing as you get stronger.

Pushups

The final exercise Jennifer demonstrates here is a beginner push up. Unlike “traditional” push ups, you will not fully extend your feet. Instead, start on your hands and knees and push up and down from there, “rocking” on your knees and bringing your chest as close to the ground as you can.

Start with just a single set of 5, gradually working up as you build strength.

Next Steps & Equipment

So what’s next? Each exercise has started out with low reps — and uses just the weight of a water bottle (or nothing in a few cases). As you build muscle, challenge yourself by slowly increasing the number of reps per set.

Another way to challenge yourself as you gain strength is to invest in a small set of free weights. 2 forty ounce bottles of water weigh just over 5 pounds; a logical next step would be to buy a set of 5 pound free weights and do these same exercises.

Eventually, you may also want to invest in a small, foldable weight bench. I say eventually because this is significantly down the road. I’ve been working out at home for several years and only just now purchased a bench. Consistency, not equipment, is what you need to focus on here.

Remember, #Fitfor2018 is all about making small changes that have a big impact. Establish your routine first, and let’s get fit together!

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