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Cpl. Stephen Dillon, the base commander’s driver, executes a set of pushups, one of many simple exercises recommended for indoor physical training, at Lejeune Hall on Dec. 17, 2013.

Photo by Mike DiCicco

In ice and snow, burn calories in the warmth of home

17 Dec 2013 | Mike DiCicco Marine Corps Base Quantico

Ice and snow can deter outdoor physical training and even make it difficult to get to the gym. However, it’s possible to get a workout at home, in the barracks or even at work, using little more than one’s own body weight.

Body weight calisthenics include pushups, sit-ups, squats, triceps dips, lunges, and many others, said Veronica Nelson, fitness director at Barber Physical Activity Center. Without a home gym, she said, heavy strength and muscle building is difficult, but there are countless ways to get a calorie-burning, cardiovascular workout.

“It’s endless what you can do with your own bodyweight,” she said. “There’s not a muscle group you can’t work.”

Calisthenics can be taken up a notch by incorporating plyometrics — bursts that lift the body completely or partially off the ground — such as jumping jacks, mountain climbers, box jumps, squat jumps, burpees or clap pushups, Nelson said. “All of those raise the intensity of the exercise and make it a little harder — or a lot harder, depending.”

She suggested choosing a set of exercises that work different body parts and cycling through them, starting with 30-second intervals and then increasing the time, following each exercise with equal rest intervals. Free timer applications are available for smartphones, which can help time intervals, she said. “Looking at a clock is pretty hard when you’re on your face doing pushups.”

Other effective workout activities include jumping rope and running up the stairs, Nelson said. “I got snowed in a few years ago and did sprint drills on my stairs.”

She suggested doing familiar exercises, especially if exercising at home alone.

Getting a workout at work can be more problematic, depending on one’s nerve and the tolerance of one’s coworkers, but some stretching and calisthenics can be employed, she said. For those who work at desks, Nelson recommended at least getting up, stretching and walking around or taking the stairs every hour or so because sitting all day is bad for posture.

And, she said, “Our glutes, from sitting on them, they literally forget how to work.” To activate them, she said, back bridges, donkey kicks or leg raises can be effective.

Nelson noted that a wide variety of workout DVDs are available, from yoga to aerobics. Online workouts, meanwhile, are free and tend to be short and intense. “They usually don’t require a lot of equipment for the exercises,” she added. However, she cautioned that judgment should be used to select online workouts that don’t look dangerous and appear to be from a reputable source.

Some simple equipment at home, such as dumbbells, bands, sandbags or kettle bells, can expand home workout possibilities.

However, she said, “If you put a lot of effort into bodyweight exercises or circuits, you can get a lot out of it.”

— Writer:

Marine Corps Base Quantico