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Body Weight Routines Using Push-ups and Squats

author image Aubri John
Aubri John has been a contributing researcher and writer to online physical and mental health oriented journals since 2005. John publishes online health and fitness articles that coincide with her licensed clinical skills in addictions, psychology and medical care. She has a master's degree in clinical social work and a Ph.D. in health psychology.
Body Weight Routines Using Push-ups and Squats
A woman is doing body weight squats outside. Photo Credit erikreis/iStock/Getty Images

You can build cardiovascular endurance, strength and power by working the major muscle groups in your arms and legs. According to FamilyDoctor.org, exercises that target your larger muscle groups and increase heart rate work best in this endeavor. Exercise routines that utilize your own body weight resistance -- including push-ups and squats -- are effective when done consistently and as part of a comprehensive workout plan. Consult a physician before starting an intense exercise program, or before making major changes to an established exercise regimen.

Basic Routine

Warm up your body with mobility stretches for the arms, shoulders, legs and calves prior to starting the routine. Start with a feasible number of sets and repetitions before advancing with each exercise. For example, begin with three rounds of five push-ups and 10 squats, completed in 15 minutes or less. Limiting your workout time improves stamina and aids in reaching your target heart rate for cardiovascular endurance. Increase your reps and sets for each workout. For a challenge, add the basic squat and push-up to other workout movements or simply include more advanced techniques once the basic is mastered.

Basic Push-up

Perform the basic push-up lying prone on the floor with your palms flat on the floor and your legs extended behind you with toes touching the ground. Keep your hands at chest level rather than extending them above the shoulders toward the neck, and make sure your hands are only slightly wider than shoulder width. Keeping your elbows tucked close to your body. push up from the ground until your arms are fully extended. Execute the move with a straight body and tight abdominal core.

Muscles Targeted in Push-up

The push-up is a compound exercise. It uses the force of your arms and adjoining muscles to lift your body weight. Targeted major muscles include the pectoralis -- or chest muscles -- triceps, biceps and deltoids. Stabilizing muscles used during a push-up include your core abdominal and back muscles, as well as the quadriceps -- the largest leg muscles. Performing a basic push-up series during a workout intensifies muscle endurance and adds a cardiovascular element.

Basic Squat

From standing position spread feet shoulder-width apart. Perform the basic squat with feet set farther apart or closer together only if you are proficient at keeping your heels flat to the ground while entering full squat motion. Keep your torso upright, lowering yourself by bending your knees. According to Fitness Magazine, avoid knee injury during squats by keeping your knees in line with your toes, preventing them from forward extension beyond the toes and from collapsing inward as you lower down. Continue to lower your glutes -- keeping your torso upright -- until your thighs are parallel to your knees, then use the force of your flat heels and tightened quadriceps to push upward back to standing position. Extending your arms toward the sky can help maintain a straightened torso when in squat motion.

Muscles Targeted in Squat

The basic squat, or air squat, works the major and minor muscles groups of each leg. Targeted major muscles conditioned in a squat series include the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and adductors. Minor muscles worked include the iliopsoas, which are significant for flexing the thigh. Engage in pre-workout mobility to warm up the leg muscles and use proper form during squat motion to optimize workout results.

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