Where to start

Hi I'm new to the group. Basic profile is I'm female, got young kids and not able to go gym so do my exercise at home and I'm wanting to start doing bodyweight exercises. I wondered if someone might be able to advise?

I figured I'd start with planks and pushups, to build muscle in my arms, but I can only hold a half plank for about 15-20 seconds (on my knees) can't do a full one yet. And I can't do a single push up, even when on my knees. I do them leaning against the wall sometimes (I read that those with no arm strength can start like that) but I'm not really improving at all. I've been doing this on and off for about a month now. Any advice?

(Also pull ups aren't an option as I can get the bar)

3 Replies

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  • Hello Ummijan and welcome to the forum.

    Rather regrettably, the weight training community is an incredibly quiet forum, hence why you’ve not received a response until now.

    If you’re not already a member, you should consider joining the NHS Weight Loss Forum, since it’s incredibly active and more likely to be of greater use to you, by virtue of its ‘Pinned Posts’ section.

    That said, since you’ve addressed the weight training community, it’d be rude not to provide you advice on how to improve muscular strength.

    Press ups and planks are incredibly difficult, since they require the ability of numerous muscle groups to work in unison to lower/hold bodyweight, while also possessing the capacity to return to the starting position.

    It’s also why they (press-ups in particular) continue to remain the hallmark of all-round muscular strength and conditioning (gravity is a powerful force). Furthermore, I doubt you know many people who’d be able to rattle off 20 press ups without a second thought.

    As such, there’s certainly no need to feel angry at yourself; you simply work upon developing strength and endurance of muscle groups that work as primary movers during a press up, by continuing to perform modified versions of the exercise.

    In addition to performing press ups against a wall, consider executing them in an elevated position, with the arms upon a raised surface, such as a low bench. Equally, perform chair dips (with knees bent to begin with), as they’ll strengthen the triceps and rear shoulder (don’t allow the elbows to flare outwards. Keep them as close in line with the body as possible).

    Additionally, stand facing a wall with arms straight and form a triangle between the forefingers and thumbs. While keeping elbows tucked close to the ribs, slowly lower yourself towards the wall, allowing your triceps to bear the weight as they lengthen. Pause for a moment, before pressing back to the starting position (keeping hands on the wall).

    After a few repetitions, the triceps should begin to burn. Simply perform as many as you can (up to ten), pause for 60s and then repeat (it's also a modified version of a diamond press up).

    To strengthen the front of your front shoulder (anterior deltoid), grasp an object that weighs around 5kg and proceed to raise it in front of you, pausing for a moment before slowly lowering. The movement will also work your stomach and upper back, so keep your core engaged as the weight is raised and lowered in front of the body. As strength improves, simply increase the weight.

    To allow planks to be performed with greater ease, seek to strengthen your transverse abdominis – a deep lying muscle beneath the stomach wall. Exercising it will also strengthen your lower lumbar region, too.

    Lie upon your back with feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Once in position, concentrate upon drawing the lower stomach towards your spine, holding the position for 5-10s before relaxing, perform ten up to repetitions, 2-3 times daily.

    If you initially happen to experience a sense of fatigue in the lower back, accompanied by an ache above the pelvis, the exercise is being performed correctly. However, once the transverse is sufficiently developed, you should be able to execute the movement while seated in a chair.

  • Thank you so much, I'm putting together an exercise plan and your suggestions will be extremely helpful. I'm very grateful

  • You're welcome. To develop and maintain a decent level of all-round strength and fitness, using body weight to provide resistance will serve you just as well, if not better than working with free weights, for example.

    To assist you further, research calisthenics and plyometric exercises for beginners, which will work to increase dynamic/explosive strength. Additionally, consider Pilates, to help develop your core and resistance to injury.

    Moreover, using the body to create resistance means that multiple muscle groups are targeted with each movement (compound movements), as opposed to working in isolation.