Looking for workouts you can do at home but you lack standard gym equipment? Did you know that there are plenty of things you can do using bodyweight only? Yes! You read that correctly! You can complete entire at home bodyweight workout sessions using only your body, and accomplish great things! Here is how!
What is a calisthenic? A calisthenic is an exercise that relies only on body weight. Think back to gym class. Remember circling the gym to begin class, then being led in group exercises? Some of these basic exercises are a wonderful way to keep your body moving if you don’t have gym access, or to get started if you have been away from an exercise regiment.
Many people assume you can only see progress using weights, but that is simply untrue! While some calisthenics requires some equipment (such as pull-ups or dips) you can do many, many exercises without anything but some clear space to move and that wonderful body of yours!
To perform a squat, stand with your feet slightly wider apart than your hips. While bending your knees, focus on pushing your butt back as if you were about to sit. Think about keeping your feet planted and chest upright while you “sit” in the imaginary “chair” behind you. Eventually, your goal should be to get your knees to 90 degrees, which means you have reached parallel.
If you are brand new to squats, you may wish to use a stool or box of some sort as a goal to touch with your booty one each “down.” Don’t actually sit or rest there, just touch the item and move back up. Eventually, you should be able to remove the bench and squat down a bit deeper.
Squats will leave your body sore so don’t jump into this exercise too vigorously. Start small so you can try again in a couple days!
Do you hate pushups? There’s only one way to get better at pushups: More pushups! An excellent exercise for your arms, shoulders, chest and abs, pushups are a classic exercise that most of us love to hate.
To do a good pushup, your hands should be placed slightly outside of your shoulders. Your legs should be straight behind you, back level, butt level with your back. You are simply moving from a straight arm plank to the down position, then back up again.
The goal of pushups is to maintain good form (no butt in the air, arched back or dropping to the ground in agony!) while going up and down.
If you are newly returning to pushups, it is okay to put your knees down, as long as the rest of your form is good! Again, start slowly and with a low number so you can return to the exercise in a day or two. No sense punishing your body so hard you don’t want to try again!
There are many types of crunches. In the basic crunch, you start lying flat with knees in the air. With knees bent up, you can either place your arms behind your head (as pictured) or cross them in front of your chest. Then, you pull your body up toward your knees using your ab muscles.
Some pointers include: Be careful not to use your arms to “yank” your body up. This can hurt your neck. Also, think about holding a small ball or orange under your chin, to keep you from tilting your neck and head down into an uncomfortable position.
In an oblique, you are working the waistline abdominal muscles. As illustrated, you are crossing one leg over the other. When you crunch up, you are moving right elbow to the left knee and visa versa on the opposite side.
Another important exercise to your at home bodyweight workout includes burpees. When you are standing, feet shoulder weight apart, weight on heels, you are ready to start. Next, you lower to a squat position. After that, you put your hands down in a pushup position and kick your legs back (continuing that pushup position). Lastly, you swing the legs forward and then leap up. To finish the burpee, you are jumping into the air.
Yes, these are as terrible as they sound. Yes, the pain is worth it. These buggers take practice but will help you reach fitness goals.
If you’re looking for another exercise to work on core, shoulder and back strength, the plank is where it’s at. As seen in the photo, it looks pretty simple. Keys to a strong plank include keeping the form so your back and butt are neither sagging nor arching up.
This may look easy, but it is not. The best advice is to start with :15-:30 second planks and work your way up.
- Straight Arm Plank: You can do a plank with a straight arm, much like the upper extension to the pushup.
- Plank Touch: When in a straight arm plank, alternate lifting one arm at a time. When you lift the right arm, touch your left shoulder. Alternate sides.
- Side Plank: From either a straight arm plank or an elbow plank, you can shift to your side.
Another part of your bodyweight home workout can include mountain climbers. Similar to a straight arm plank form, you then move a leg forward into a sprinter position. You alternate legs.
Think right leg forward (as picture) then back to beside the left. Then, left foot forward. This can be done slowly or quickly. Again, start slowly and work your way up to building speed!
One more item for the home bodyweight workout regime is the lunge. This is as simple as starting in that standing position (feet under your hips) and lunge one leg forward. Focus on not extending your knee past your forward foot.
Think about keeping your abdominal muscles engaged and torso upright during this exercise.
Requiring Minimal Equipment
There are some bodyweight exercises that do require some equipment. These can be accomplished with either a weight bench, pull up bar, or another item.
- Dips – You put your hands on an elevated surface (two chairs, a weight bench, etc) and raise yourself up without locking the elbows.
- Pull Ups – If you don’t have a pull up bar, you can try these while watching your kids play at a local park! Find yourself some monkey bars and get a quick workout in while the kids do their thing!
- Jump Rope – Many of us forget this simple tool that kids find so appealing.
Apps & Websites:
My favorite FREE app for finding good workouts that only require bodyweight is Nike Training Club. You can search this by type of exercise, the amount of time you have to devote to the workout, or what equipment you have. Check this one out today!
If you are looking for Free Exercise Videos For Runners, there are some great ones out there!
Make Opportunities, Not Excuses
It would be easy to tell yourself you can’t work out because you lack the equipment or a fancy gym membership, but the truth is you don’t need either. All you need to begin making gains today is the desire to move forward. What are you waiting for?