How to work out without gym equipment

Using your own bodyweight to exercise

If you’ve decided that it’s time to get in shape, it’s worth remembering that the gym isn’t your only option. It is possible, with due consideration for technique, intensity and a balanced programme of training, to train your body using just a single piece of equipment that costs absolutely nothing — your own bodyweight.

Bodyweight exercises are versatile, great fun and bring an extra dimension to your training session. What’s more, they don’t restrict you to solely gym training because they can be carried out anywhere; at home, work, the beach or perhaps your local park. With any fitness programme, variety is a key component, so limiting training to solely bodyweight exercises can be restrictive, but they are a useful tool to have in your exercise library. For example, if you’re unable to get to your local gym, perhaps due to work or other commitments, with some thought and imagination, you can still generate an extremely effective workout without resorting to equipment, which can be tailored to challenge any level of fitness.

Quality over quantity

Just as with gym training using specialist pieces of equipment, bodyweight exercises should be chosen to match your specific postural and fitness requirements. Seeking out professional guidance is invaluable to ensure that you are performing the exercises correctly and with proper technique in order to avoid developing imbalances or risking injury. You will achieve far greater gains doing fewer repetitions correctly than performing the exercise to complete exhaustion but with poor posture or technique.

Men’s bodyweight workout

So, what sort of exercises are suitable for an all over body workout? There are a huge range of bodyweight exercises that you can try, all with slight variations, but here are a few ideas. This session contains all the ingredients for a total body workout, targeting all the major muscles and giving the heart and lungs some training too. You can build a great six-pack, chest, lean muscular legs and train all around the body, simply with the exercises below, varying the number of repetitions as you build up.

Warm-up: Walking, jogging, running, stair-climbing (anything that gets you slightly breathless, elevates your heart-rate and prepares you for your main session).

Legs: bodyweight squats, lunges, step-ups and squat thrusts.

Chest and triceps: press-ups (varying the position of your hands to target different areas of the chest).

Upper back, shoulders and biceps: pull-ups.

Stomach and abdominal muscles: sit-ups and crunches.

Lower back: back extensions

Core Muscles (deep postural muscles which wrap around your body which give you support and keep you upright): Exercises such as ‘the plank’ or with a stability ball.

Cool-down: easy walking to relax and bring your heart rate down.

Flexibility: five to 10 minutes spent carrying out some light stretching.
Sets, repetitions and progression

A repetition is one complete execution of an exercise, for example: one press-up. A set is a number of repetitions, for example: 10 press-ups. When you are warmed-up, try doing one set of approximately 10 repetitions of each exercise. As your strength builds, you can experiment by completing more repetitions or doing two or more sets with a short recovery in between. Another variation is to do two complete sets of the exercises, with a short walk, jog or run in between, combining a resistance session with cardiovascular training.

Afterwards, always remember to include an easy, relaxing cool-down and some flexibility exercises at the end of your workout to reduce any post-exercise stiffness the following day.

Bodyweight training challenges you in different ways to a standard resistance session, so the next time you’re at the gym, why not substitute a bodyweight exercise for a conventional one? Continue for a few sessions and when you return to your original exercise, you’ll find that your body has adapted to the new challenge and your strength and fitness will have improved!

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