One of my main aims of this website is to show you just how effective bodyweight only, no equipment training can be. I have a solid article for you today that covers some basic bodyweight exercises and workouts you can do at home that are fast and effective and that require minimal or no equipment. The author also highlights some variations of basic exercises that you may not have tried.
Bodyweight Workouts – The No Equipment Method For Fitness
By Kevin Urban
No gym, no equipment, no expense. Bodyweight workouts are not a “poor man’s fitness program,” but a methodology followed by hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts who have discovered the secret for getting in shape – lifting their own body weight as the means of resistance!
There is no need to invest in hundreds even thousands of dollars worth of equipment to do strength training. Your own body is the ultimate “free weights” exercise machine. You can train all muscle groups with a free range of motion from any angle, something that is not possible given the linear restrictions of many weight machines.
Here is just a sample of popular bodyweight workouts that are amazingly effective for strength training:
Pushups work the arms and upper body. This exercise is the perfect alternative to the bench press for anyone who does not have a set of free weights. Variations of this exercise include the Decline Push-up: to perform this, place your feet on a low riser or stair and place your hands on the floor. Keep your body in a straight line and lower yourself until you are two inches off the ground. Do as many reps as you can.
Pull-ups and chin-ups can be done on monkey bars at a playground, or by using a doorway bar, or on an inexpensive VKR/dip station (about $150). They are often thought to be the same exercise, but pull-ups are done with the palms out, while chin-ups are palms toward you. Variations include dead hang pull-ups (starting from lowest hanging position possible), and mixed grip pull-ups. Bodyweight workouts such as chins/pulls are in many ways superior to machine exercises (i.e., the cable lat pulldown), because it provides a full range of motion, and requires balance and coordination – something which cannot be said of machine workouts.
Inverted Rows: Also known as horizontal pull-ups, these work your lats, traps, and upper back. To do them, lie on your back under a low bar and, keeping your body straight, pull up until your chest touches the bar.
Triceps Dips: Another favorite bodyweight training exercise is the dip. Use the same doorway bar for chins/pulls but place it at the bottom of the door for dips to target the triceps. You can then turn around, hook your feet under the bar, and perform crunches and sit-ups.
Reverse Crunches: These are a variation on sit-ups and crunches to target the abs. Lie on your back under the low doorway bar. Grab the bar, and with knees bent, lift your knees to your head. Keep your head on the floor and don’t lower your legs all the way at the start of each rep; keep your thighs vertical.
Squats are phenomenal for working the legs and are superior to a leg press machine. Variations include Hindu Squats (done with rhythmic breathing and arm swings), and one-legged squats such as the Romanian Split Squat (where the instep of the rear foot rests on a bench). You can also try the V-Squat in which you hold your hands over your head in a V position as if holding a barbell, while keeping your shoulders and back tensed throughout the squat.
This is just a partial list, of course, but you can do many more bodyweight workouts including Hindu pushups, lunges, bridges, planks, calf raises, and many others.
The Best Workout Advice: Do More
If you fret you cannot do even one pull-up because you think you are too fat or heavy, it isn’t true. You can do them, you just aren’t strong enough yet. It is easier to start with chin-ups rather than pull-ups, or start with Negatives (where you jump up to start at the top of the bar and lower yourself). Maybe you can do only one this week, but in a few weeks you’ll do half a dozen. With resistance training, you get stronger as long as you keep at it.
Once you get in shape, when you are performing dozens of sets of crunches and rows, then it is time to progress by decreasing your leverage. Any of these bodyweight workouts listed above can be made more difficult through variation and leverage. For example, decline push-ups put your body at a higher angle and require more work since the resistance is greater. Variations in all these exercises will aid in developing overall body conditioning and muscle definition.
The best thing about bodyweight exercises is that they can be done anywhere without a lot of fancy equipment. It is recommended that you get a multi-purpose doorway chin-up bar (less than $50) so you can perform many of the exercises at home. You can do many freestanding bodyweight workouts on the floor or a mat using just your body for resistance, or add a few tools such as balls, kettle bells, and resistance bands, to add more variety.
About the Author:
Kevin Urban is the webmaster at HomeGymAdviser.com. Find the best gym exercise equipment with our home gym reviews and consumer guides.
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