Gamers are always looking for the next level, trying to make their characters better. My players whether it be in D&D, Traveller, Call of Cthulhu and any other RPG are always looking to gain the skills and the abilities to give them the edge in the game.Why don’t we put the effort into leveling up ourselves? We put time and energy into our character builds, yet are quick to forget our builds. It’s time to ask ourselves: “like our characters, can we be better?”
That’s why I’m here. Not only am I a gamer, I have a degree in athletic training and I’m also an ACSM certified personal trainer. Gaming and fitness are two things I’ve dedicated my life to.This is my passion, to help you improve yourself and reach the next level. NO equipment will be needed, you can keep your hard earned gold. It has also been decreed in the land that we stay home, fighting the dastardly enemy by not exposing ourselves to it. When you can’t be out questing, work on yourself in the safety of your quarters.
If there is one thing you take away from this article, it’s that a long rest is extremely important. Think about your characters. A lot of the cool things come back on an 8 hour rest and we as players just gloss over that fact. The best thing you can do for your health is to make sure that tonight you get the full long rest as well as make sure you drink from your waterskin multiple times a day, giving yourself a vital part of the leveling process. Sleeping and drinking are the two biggest parts of leveling up, and you don’t want to roll the dice on these.
Our bodies are great at building themselves, but assume for right now, that you’re a low level. We don’t want to bite off more than we can chew so we will start simple and easy. It’s always suggested you see your local cleric (doctor) before starting a new exercise routine ensuring your body is ready to train to level up is extremely important, so get the thumbs up from your cleric to make sure physical activity is safe to do. While there are infinite exercises to try, we are going to start out by trying just three, focusing on our upper and lower body. For right now, let’s focus on doing each exercise in 3 sets of 10 for a total of 30.
A lot of us groan at the idea of a push up, just as our characters did during their training before their adventures. It’s a simple exercise, but not always easy. An adventurer with the noble background or an adventurer with the urchin background both have the ability to perform the exercise because it’s free. You may be thinking about skipping over this, because “everyone knows how to do a push up” but there are actually many different ways to do it. See below for the one that fits you. Even those who believe themselves a negative strength score can do it!
- Standard (Champion): Back straight, hands shoulder width apart, feet behind you and stiff as a board, no camel hump. We know it, we’ve seen it, it’s the bread and butter. It’s almost boring…until it makes you a remarkable athlete.
- Triceps (Battle master): Same as the standard except your elbows are in line with your body and don’t bow out, pushing up with the triceps just as much as the pectoralis (chest).You do this exercise when you want some flair to your process, you just don’t get a D8 (for now).
- Modified on knees (The Cavalier): You can do the standard or tricep push up this way, but use your knees as a fulcrum. You can put less weight over your shoulders and chest by leaning your torso back over the knees. You can make it harder by putting more weight over your chest to make it more like the standard unmodified push up. Don’t fret if you have to start this way, you’ll work yourself up to holding the line.
- Wall push-up (Eldritch Knight): This is for those who have notoriously bad shoulders, wrists or just simply feel uncomfortable on the ground. Your hands go onto the wall shoulder width apart and you choose how far your feet come away from the way. Staying straight, you perform a push up, just angled to the wall. Starting here is just fine! You’re well on your way to your goals!
The Bodyweight Squat
This is a two fold exercise as it boosts your lower body strength while improving your cardiovascular system. Just as your rogue was learning evasion techniques, having a strong lower body and a strong cardiovascular system will allow you to move quickly and with purpose, like your rogue learning evasion techniques. Let’s just hope there are no fireballs you need to dodge.
- Standard (Thief): If you’ve never done a true bodyweight squat, or a true squat in general, you can certainly start with a chair under you for this. Lift with the legs, not your back is key. It takes practice to get this right. Imagine you’re sitting down onto a chair that’s just a little bit behind you. Putting your weight on your HEELS (not your toes), you keep your back straight as your bottom leads to find the chair. Your shoulders are back, not rolled forward and your head is up and straight. Once your bottom finds the shair, you stand up, driving through your heels making your legs do the work. You can slowly lower what your bottom touches, such as a low stool or stacked book to get your body used to going lower. Eventually you can add weight to this as well. This is great for that second story work rogues train for.
- Cardio Version (Swashbuckler): Do this when you are feeling comfortable with the motion of a proper squat. This particular version of the exercise calls for you to do the standard motion in a safe manner, yet faster. Go as fast as you can while safely and properly doing the motion. It’s not worth doing fast if you can’t do the foundational movement correctly. Once you can do it fast and correctly, add a little hop at the end (making it a squat jump) and look at all that panache!
- The wall squat (Scout): This variant of the exercise is good for those with bad knees or are still not comfortable with their body movement during a squat. This is more of an upright position, but it still works the legs. Leaning up against a wall (you can put a towel between you and the wall for easier movement) put your legs out about a foot, maybe two and with the weight on your heels, use your legs to lower yourself down the wall, and then push up. Do not go on your toes. This is a great stepping stone to a standard squat, and you can increase the speed once you feel comfortable. See? You can still do a squat! You adapt, you’re a survivalist!
Devotion to building a strong core is just as important as any other body part. Just as your paladin shows their devotion to a cause and gets strength from it, your devotion to your core will show you your body’s overall strength and endurance. I suggest starting with a 30 second plank and increasing from there for 3 sets (90 seconds total).
- Standard (Devotion): Similar to a push up position, you’re on your forearms and your toes. Keeping your back and bottom flat and holding it strengthens your abs and low back. Do it enough and your devotion to the simple exercise will pay you back with its strength allowing you to complete your daily duties.
- High (Ancients): Starting in a high push up position with your body up on your hands and with a straight back, you hold it, just as the ancients before you held this position. It strengthens the abs, the back and the hip flexors. Keeping your core strong will help you perfect your own light.
- Commando (Oathbreaker): Starting in a low plank and moving to a high plank, and then down to a low in quick succession for a set amount of time. This is also a cardiovascular workout, and great if you just don’t want to conform to one thing. You couldn’t just stick to one way, you wanted to break the mold and go out and do something different. Your core will thank you.
3 easy at home exercises to get you started out with. As you can see, all the exercises have modifications and variations to switch up your style. The biggest thing to remember is there is a difference between soreness and pain, just as there’s a difference between non-lethal and standard damage. If you’re sore the next day, like you worked out and used your muscles, you’re doing great. If you feel a pain that’s not associated with your muscle, you should contact your cleric (doctor) at your next convenience. Never push through pain.
Thank you for reading and enjoy the fun process of leveling yourself up! Catch you next time!