What are some sports I can do to improve my torso?
January 7, 2005 5:32 AM   Subscribe

I can't seem to find the time to do any kind of sport these days months years, but I'm still pretty fit. Even though, I'd like to build some muscles (à la Lester Burnham, you know, "I want to look good naked!").
I can't do push-ups anymore because of my back pains, so I'm looking for easy exercices, like "do this 100 times" or "do this for a minute" (or more), to pratice every day whe[r|n]ever I am (right before I take a shower is good) to improve mainly my torso, but why not other parts aswell.
I don't want to join a club/gym if I can help...
posted by XiBe to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
I had to do wall slides when I was rehabbing my back, and boy does it give you muscular thighs.

If you like that look, that's a good one. Hurts like a bastard the first few dozen times you do it, though.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:27 AM on January 7, 2005

A few months ago I started doing some basic freeweights lifting (started with 12 lbs, now alternating between 15 and 30) after I got home from work. Now for the first time in my life, I have these strange things called "biceps".

My heartrate is usually already up from walking home from work, so the lifts (bicep curls, etc - a couple reps of 10 or 15 depending on the weight) are like the end of a workout.

Consider picking up a pair of freeweights that you can keep near your shower or wardrobe. You don't have to keep upgrading them, just increase the amount of reps, and you should start to feel and see a difference in a few weeks.

Also, walk more and consider a pair of ankle weights.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:52 AM on January 7, 2005

The main problem you're going to face is that the only real way to induce muscle hypertrophy (growth) is to gradually increase the amount of heavy things you can lift a few times (8-12 reps), as opposed to lifting light things a whole lot of times. The later increases muscular endurance and does have fitness benefits (especially for sport specific training), but won't make you look better naked (except for being a kind of inefficient aerobic workout).
posted by cosmonaught at 7:44 AM on January 7, 2005

IMHO: avoid ankle weights, as they'll significantly increase the risk of injury to your knees.

...I don't know if this is true, but it's what I've been told multiple times.
posted by aramaic at 8:58 AM on January 7, 2005

Oh, and by "lift heavy things" I really just mean placing resistance on motion, not necessarily lifting things (thought that certainly works).
posted by cosmonaught at 9:41 AM on January 7, 2005

If you get back pain from doing push-ups, then you probably need to strengthen your abs. Strong abs will protect your low back. Slow abdominal crunches are good for this. Another good exercise - hold a position like the top of your push-up position, but support yourself on your forearms instead of your hands. You can clasp your hands for better support. Hold your body absolutely straight without sagging until you feel the burn in your abs (depending on your ab conditioning, this could be anywhere from 10 seconds up to a couple of minutes.) If you do this exercise immediately after doing some crunches, it won't take long to feel the effect.

After you've done that exercise for a while, push-ups should become an option again.
posted by tdismukes at 10:07 AM on January 7, 2005

Dumbbells are relatively compact and develop both sides equally. Three times per week is the standard recommendation), to give your muscles time to recover and rebuild, but you can probably do arms exercises (bicep, tricep, wrist) on three days and the rest of the body (shoulders, back, chest) on the other three days.

You should select a weight (for any given exercise) that allows you to do between 8 and 15 repetitions (experts differ, so do what you prefer) , in good form, before your muscles are too tired to do any more.

If you have the money, the most compact choice is the new Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells. Otherwise, as you get better, you'll need to buy increasingly heavier dumbbells, and probably will need to buy a dumbbell rack.

You might start with a book:

The Great Dumbbell Handbook (64 pages)

Complete Body Development With Dumbbells

Finally, regardless of what else you do, you should exercise your abdominal muscles (abs). Strong abs can help reduce back problems (and pain) because they can do some of the suppor work that otherwise would stress the back muscles. You'll find just about everything you need to know about abs exercises (nine different types, mainly crunches - NO SITUPS) in this FAQ. And you don't need to buy a machine - at most you need an exercise mat if you have only hard floors. (And, again - do this only every other day for best results.) [On preview - what tdismukes said, too.]
posted by WestCoaster at 10:08 AM on January 7, 2005

If you want to look good naked, try some toning exercises. Like getting an aerobics style video and use some weighted balls and ankle braces. Not only will you tone but you will increase your cardio tremendously.

Although quite cheesy, this Walk Away the Pounds (kind of a misnomer) is great for toning. All of her videos are around 30 minutes long and quite low impact too.

Good luck!
posted by jasonspaceman at 11:59 AM on January 7, 2005

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