The truth is that you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to get strong and fit.
All you really need is your own bodyweight.
I’m not against using weights or equipment to exercise but a lot of people use it as an excuse to put off working out and getting into shape.
There’s no reason why you absolutely need to drive all the way to your gym in order to get in a good workout.
You can start exercising right now, in the room that you’re reading this even, just by using your own bodyweight.
Don’t believe me?
Just look at the gymnasts during the Olympics.
Do they look weak or flimsy? Of course not.
And they’re just using their own bodyweight to get stronger.
If you weigh 150 pounds that’s all weight which can be used to train your body and grow stronger.
You just have to learn how to leverage it properly and in this article I’m going to show you how.
Push-ups are one of the first exercises that everyone learns when they start having gym class in school and because of that they’re also taken for granted.
But really, push-ups are still a great exercise with tons of variations to improve them.
By using proper form you can leverage push-ups to build a lot of muscle.
One of the first obstacles that people face when doing push-ups is that they’re too easy.
Once you’re capable of doing twenty consecutive push-ups the exercise is already becoming inefficient for building more muscle.
But don’t worry; I’m going to show you several ways to fix this and make push-ups a fantastic exercise again.
The first thing you want to do is move your hands farther back towards your waist.
Instead of placing them beneath your shoulders you want to place your hands farther down your body, near the bottom of your rib cage.
This can be tough for people who don’t have flexible wrists but you can remedy that by getting some handles to place on the floor so you don’t have to bend them.
By doing this you’ll be transferring more of the weight being supported by your legs to your arms instead.
So instead of 40% of your bodyweight being pushed up by your arms and chest you’ll now be closer to 60%.
Not bad for just moving your hands backwards a little.
Another way to increase the difficulty is to elevate your feet.
You can use the stairs, your couch, or a chair to keep your legs and feet up above the ground.
The higher you raise them the more difficult the push-up will become.
This is also useful for targeting different muscles as the elevated angle will focus more on your shoulders and upper chest than a standard push-up.
The final way for increasing the difficulty is to move your hands underneath you and together.
Place the fingers and thumb together under your stomach so that there is a diamond shape between them.
This is a great way to really work the triceps in your arms and will significantly increase the difficulty of any push-up.
Be warned, though, that if you have elbow pain you should be careful doing these as they put a lot more stress on your elbow joints.
Pull-ups are possibly my favorite exercise and are perfect for grouping with push-ups as they target opposing muscle groups in your body.
By doing both push-ups and pull-ups you are getting a complete upper body workout.
Pull-ups target your biceps as well as the muscles in your back.
Some of you might be thinking, though, that pull-ups aren’t really a bodyweight workout since you need something that you can hang from to do them.
However, you can do pull-ups using just about anything that can support your weight.
You just have to be imaginative.
There are also two main ways to do them; either as a pull-up or chin-up.
To do a pull-up you want to grip the bar with your palms facing forward, away from your body.
Then go ahead and lift yourself up until your chin has gone over the top of the bar.
To do a chin-up you want to have the palms of your hands facing towards you and you also want to lift yourself up until your chin is above the bar.
The main difference between these two exercises is that the pull-up puts more emphasis on working your back muscles while the chin-up works your biceps harder.
Just pick whichever one you want to focus on more or switch between them on different days.
If you’re not yet strong enough to do a full pull-up you can start by doing inverse bodyweight rows to build up your strength.
To do this you want to find a sturdy table around your house, or you can put a broom stick between two chairs that you can hold onto.
Next, you want to lay on the ground underneath the table or broom and reach up to grasp it with both hands.
Now you can go ahead and lift yourself up off the ground but with the heels of your feet still on the ground.
Because your feet are still on the ground you don’t have to pull up with so much force so it’s a perfect way to build up your strength until you’re ready to lift your whole bodyweight.
Squats are the quintessential lower body exercise.
A proper full squat works all of your leg muscles and even your glutes.
However, there are a few things you should keep in mind when doing them.
The first is that you should keep your weight centered on your heels at the base of your feet.
If you feel yourself being forced up on your toes you should move your center of gravity farther backwards.
A good rule of thumb is that your knees shouldn’t travel in front of your toes as you’re squatting.
If you find yourself losing your balance while doing this you can stretch your arms out in front of you to help balance.
If you still find yourself moving up onto your toes you’re just going to have to work more on your flexibility.
Try stretching out your calves and hamstrings until the act of squatting feels more natural.
All you have to do is watch any toddler playing to see how it’s done properly.
It’s just that all of the sitting down we’ve done over the years has tightened up all of our muscles.
But with a little bit of work you’ll be feeling better in no time.
The other thing that you should be doing is making sure that you’re going far enough down that your thighs are at least parallel with the ground.
As long as you have healthy knees and you’re making sure to keep your knees behind your toes there’s no reason why you can’t do a full deep squat.
If you’re not going deep enough that your legs aren’t at least parallel with the ground you’re just plain cheating yourself out of reaping the full benefits of this exercise.
4) Circuit Training
The last piece of the puzzle is circuit training.
Circuit training isn’t so much an exercise as it is a way of doing your exercises in a manner which will allow you to gain the most benefit from them.
For example, if we wanted to turn the three exercises listed above into a circuit we would do them in a different manner than most people usually do them.
Instead of doing one set of push-ups, waiting one minute, then doing another set of push-ups, waiting another minute, and finally doing your last set of push-ups before doing the same thing with the other two exercises we’re going to speed things up a bit.
After doing our first set of push-ups we’re going to go right into doing pull-ups after only waiting a few seconds.
Then we’re going to do our squats right after we finish our pull-ups without waiting more than a few seconds.
We can do this because we’re targeting different muscle groups with each exercise so that we don’t have to wait in between sets.
This will allow us to keep moving almost non-stop throughout the whole workout.
This has three major benefits:
The first is that you’re getting a decent cardiovascular workout while also doing resistance training.
You’re conditioning your heart and lungs while building your muscles at the same time.
The second is that you’re going to burn a huge number of calories.
This type of high intensity exercise has been shown to dramatically increase your metabolism for up to 48 hours after training which will help you to burn way more fat.
And the third benefit of circuit training is that it will save you a huge amount of time!
No more pacing around and swinging your arms in between sets; just go go go.
There’s no reason why you can’t use bodyweight exercises to get into great shape.
If you incorporate these four things:
- Circuit training
You can get in some awesome workouts anywhere even if you don’t have any equipment.
And the best thing about bodyweight exercises is that they’re all compound movements which work multiple muscle groups at the same time creating true functional strength.
So the next time you can’t get to the gym just go ahead and try some of the ideas listed above.
I promise you won’t be disappointed!