The most common excuse most people have for not exercising is lack of time. You can’t make it to the gym because it’s not conveniently located or your schedule doesn’t permit it. And while these are very legitimate problems majority of us face, have you ever stopped to consider that you don’t have to hit the gym to work out?
Thanks to body weight exercises, you can start a workout regime anywhere and anytime. Bypassing machines or extra equipment, body weight exercises rely on an individual’s weight to create resistance for movement. To put it simply, you use your body like a machine and because of that, these exercises can be performed anywhere – at home or outdoors, and even in a hotel room, if you’re a frequent traveller.
The main benefits of bodyweight exercises is that they workout multiple muscle groups, which in turn, help you burn more fat. Depending on the intensity, bodyweight exercises will take care of your cardio, increase your metabolic rate, tone your body and improve endurance.
Here are the most basic bodyweight exercises that you can do just about anywhere:
The most common bodyweight exercise, push-ups target the chest, arms and shoulders.
- Get on your hands (shoulder width apart) and ground your toes into the floor.
- Flatten your back and keep your body straight and neutral.
- Inhale and lower your body till your chest grazes the floor. Tuck your elbows close to your body.
- Push your body back up to start position while exhaling.
A great cardio exercise, this is full body strength training exercise, working out the arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings and abs.
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- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Lower your body into a squatting position and place your hands on the floor in front of you.
- Kick your feet back and get in a push-up position.
- Lower your chest and do a push up.
- Kick your feet back to the original squat position.
- Stand up, jump and clap your hand overhead.
A good cardio workout, planks are great for building core strength.
- Get into a push-up position on the floor.
- Bend your elbows 90-degrees and rest your weight on the forearms.
- Keep the elbows directly under the shoulders.
- Hold the position as long as you can – ideally for two minutes.
A compound movement (involving more than one muscle group), squats target the glutes and thighs.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Extend your hands straight out, bend the elbows and clasp the fingers.
- Sit back and down like on a chair.
- Slightly bend your upper body forward and arch the lower back.
- Lower down to bring your thighs parallel to the floor.
- Keep your body tight and push through your heels and bring the body to the original position.
The functional (full body) movement improves hip mobility and strengthens the knees, quadriceps and hamstrings.
- Stand with your upper body straight.
- Step forward with one leg.
- Lower your hips and bend both knees to a 90-degree angle without touching the back knee to the floor.
- Push back up to the starting position.
The isometric workout is great for the biceps and triceps. It also works the abs and depending on the intensity it can increase the heartbeat like cardio.
- Get in the plank position – hands shoulder-width apart and feet hip-width.
- Draw your right knee into your chest using your abs.
- Bring it back in the original position.
- Repeat with the left knee.
Your routine should include 10 minutes of warm-up, 30 minutes of bodyweight exercises and 10 minutes of cool down exercises. Following this regime thrice a week, and changing your routine every three to four weeks, can benefit you greatly. Start with these basic body weight exercises and move on to other more advanced versions. You can even introduce props like dumbbells or kettlebells to your routine.
If you are pressed for time, try Decline Pushups, Plyometric Pushups or Plyometric Jump Squats, Jumping Lunges, Push-ups with Burpees – intense workouts that leave an impact. But remember, the focus here is on movement, not intensity of exercise.
Although body weight exercises do not involve machines, if performed incorrectly or when injured, they can be as harmful as equipment workouts and hurt your joints. So be sure to consult with an expert before starting a programme or particular exercise. Also, don’t skip the warmup and cool down exercises like jumping jacks, arm rotations, knee tucks, etc. They are as crucial for body weight exercises as they are for a gym routine.
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