Local strength trainer suggests 4 body-weight exercises that can be completed indoors, at home

photo by: Lauren Fox

Chris Dellasega, owner of Athletic Strength Institute, is pictured in his facility on Nov. 17.

As COVID-19 cases surge and the weather turns cold, people who aren’t comfortable going to a public gym are likely looking for exercises to complete at home.

Chris Dellasega, owner of Lawrence’s Athletic Strength Institute, offered tips on four exercises people can do at home with limited space and no special equipment — just their own body weight and ordinary pieces of furniture. Dellasega earned a master’s degree in exercise science from the University of Kansas in 2011. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he had been serving as one of the strength coaches for USA Cycling’s men’s track program.

In addition to simply improving strength, Dellasega said strength training also helps people maintain better posture, especially when running and biking. He said it also improves bone mineral density, which is a good way to offset osteoporosis.

But he said strength is also a perishable skill, and if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

“You have to practice it and you have to practice it regularly in order to become proficient at it,” Dellasega said. He recommends that those who are new to strength exercises hire a professional.

In giving exercise examples to the Journal-World for the general population, Dellasega gave one exercise each for the chest, back and quadriceps, as well as an exercise that uses the gluteal muscles, lower back and hamstrings.

Dellasega offered the following general guidelines on the number of sets and repetitions of these exercises people should do:

Beginner: Two sets of 15 to 20 or three sets of 12 to 15

Intermediate: Three sets of 12 to 15 or four sets of 10 to 12

Advanced: Four sets of 10 to 12 or five sets of eight to 10


photo by: Lauren Fox

Chris Dellasega prepares to push back up after taking 10 seconds to lower himself into a pushup position.

The basic pushup is not given the credit that it’s due, Dellasega said. For those who struggle with pushups, Dellasega gave tips on how to improve.

The first thing someone can do is elevate their upper body in order to make the exercise easier. Doing a pushup with your hands on a chair and your feet on the floor, for instance, would be an option.

Dellasega also brought up a method called accentuated eccentric training. He said that people who struggle to press back up from a pushup don’t have to give up on the exercise entirely, because just lowering down into the pushup position helps build strength. To use this method, Dellasega suggested lowering down into the pushup position slowly — over the course of 10 seconds. From there, people can use their knees to get back up if need be.

“When you get to a point where you can do three really good controlled 10-second eccentrics, that generally represents the ability to do at least one pushup,” he said.

Inverted row

photo by: Lauren Fox

Chris Dellasega does an inverted row using a barbell in his facility on Nov. 17.

It can be hard to find exercises to do at home that work one’s back, Dellasega said. But the strength trainer said inverted rows are a good option.

Dellasega demonstrated an inverted row — an exercise that involves pulling one’s chest toward a bar — using a raised barbell at his gym.

To do one at home, Dellasega suggests finding a sturdy table, getting underneath it and hanging onto its edge. From there, pull yourself toward the table.

“You would definitely need a pretty stable table,” he said.

Another option is to take a bed sheet and feed it through a door so that when the door is closed, two ends of the sheet are sticking out. By putting your feet close to the closed door and hanging onto the sheet ends while leaning back, you can use the sheets to pull yourself up toward the door.

“Hotels — that’s where that one was born. For me, anyway,” Dellasega said of the sheet idea.

Split squat

photo by: Lauren Fox

Chris Dellasega displays a split squat in his facility on Nov. 17.

People with desk jobs might have tight hip flexors, Dellasega said. Doing split squats tends to help.

“This exercise of a split squat is actually really good for undoing some of that tightness that you get in the hip flexor muscles,” he said.

To do a split squat, get into a staggered stance, with your feet shoulder-width apart and one foot slightly in front of the other. Turn the front foot about 5 to 10 degrees outward and make sure your ankle, knee and hip are aligned. Then, take a stride out with the front leg and drive the front knee forward as far as you can, Dellasega said. In this exercise, 85% of the work should be done by the front leg, and only 15% by the back leg.

Hip bridge

photo by: Lauren Fox

Chris Dellasega elevates his legs in preparation for a hip bridge exercise.

To work the lower back, gluteal muscles and hamstrings, Dellasega recommended a hip bridge.

Lie face up on the floor with your knees bent and your feet raised on a platform such as a couch or chair. Take a deep breath, stabilize your trunk and then lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Hold the position for a couple of seconds before coming back down.

To make the exercise harder, you can elevate your feet even more. To make it easier, you can do the exercise with your feet on the floor.


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