Whether you like cardio, bodyweight exercises, lifting weights, or you aren’t really into working out, your regime is likely to have changed recently. With gyms, closing, opening, then in some places closing again, it’s made it harder for you to stick to an exercise plan.
The good news is that it’s possible to work out and get benefits without equipment. Great if you’ve been trying to maintain your physical fitness. Not so good if you’ve been using that as an excuse!
Whether you like to exercise or not, the bottom line is it’s good for your mental and physical well being to get 30 minutes of activity in a day. It may be hard to fit into your busy schedule, but there are options. Plus, exercise is cumulative.
While bodybuilders may say you need heavy weights to build strength, your body is an excellent piece of work out equipment. You can use your body to build muscle and burn fat with the power of gravity. There is no excuse not to sweat just because you don’t have a barbell in hand. All you need to know is the right way to do it to get the maximum benefit.
Let’s be honest, running for hours on a treadmill, or outside, can get repetitive and boring. Plus, it isn’t an efficient way to manage your weight. It’s also time-consuming. And if you are busy, you haven’t got all those minutes in the day. You need a workout you can do wherever and whenever and it doesn’t take forever.
The key is to do circuits and spike your heart rate into the fat-burning zone (that’s around 128 – 148 beats per minute). You don’t need to go to the point of collapse like your heart is going to explode. Workout for your mental and physical fitness, in your target heart rate zone, buy not to the point of feeling like you’re going to collapse to get results.
This method of training can also get great results fast in a minimal amount of time. By raising your heart rate and then letting it rest, then repeating the cycle, you can make just as much impact on your body in 20 minutes as you could running at the same speed for an hour. And I’m talking calorie burning as well as strength, muscle and fitness improvement.
Bodyweight exercises also work lots of different muscle groups, so you are getting a great all-over workout. The key thing to remember is most exercises are a variation of the same exercise. So if you get the five core exercises down, you will be off to a great start.
So here are five exercises you can do anytime, anyplace, anywhere. I have explained the beginner’s version. But if you are feeling stronger and more advanced, you can make them more complex. The aim is to start trying to do at least 20 seconds of each (at whichever level you want to tackle) with a 15-second break. Then build up to doing more sets and extending the time of each exercise.
Five bodyweight exercises you can do on a busy schedule
If you do a push up with the proper technique, it strengthens your shoulders, chest, elbows, and even the legs and glutes.
The key is to maintain a solid structure, and then it can be a full-body exercise. If you are starting out, you may struggle to do a full push up. Don’t worry! You can always do this on your knees and build up from there. That’s how I started too.
If you have issues, it’s probably because your form isn’t right. You may have sore elbows or lower back. You may also have a weak shoulder girdle or reduced mobility in your shoulders.
Here's how to do it:
1. Slowly lower yourself to the ground. A lot of people make a mistake because they let their hips touch the floor first, or arch too high. Be aware and avoid that.
2. Make sure your back is flat the entire time. Keep your elbows close to your body and tucked in, at your sides.
3. Then exhale and push yourself back to the starting position. And there you have it, a traditional push-up.
Give it an upgrade- wide grip push-up
If you want to engage your chest and front shoulders more, then try the wide grip.
You carry out the move the same as above. But you put your hands further apart. This means that your elbows will bend more when you are lowering yourself to the ground.
When it comes to push-up variations, the wider apart your hands are, the more you will work your chest. This means that a wide grip push-up will place more emphasis on your pectoral strength than the traditional one.
Advanced – staggered push-up
Start in the push-up position. The variable that changes are your hands. One hand should be situated higher than the other, which should remain in line with your shoulder.
You stay in this position as you make your move. The hand/arm that is lower will be forced to work more as it takes the brunt of the work. After you have finished your set/reps with one side, swap and repeat. This push-up variation helps you if you want to improve strength on each side individually.
The plank helps you build core strength and stability. This will help you move more efficiently and stand upright.
Here's how to do it:
1. Begin by laying your forearms on the floor with your elbows bent and beneath your shoulders. Your body and legs should be out behind you in a straight line. And you are resting on the tips of your toes, or, if you want, on the balls of your feet.
2. Then contract your midsection and keep your torso straight. The key is not to allow your back to sag. Try and hold it for 20 seconds, a minute, or as long as you can.
Give it an upgrade – the up-down plank
1. Begin in a plank in the push-up position with arms straight and hands directly under your shoulders. Keep your back flat and your body in a straight line, contract your midsection.
2. Then bend one elbow to lower onto your forearm, then follow with the other arm. You then return to the starting position by straightening one arm and planting your hand under your shoulder.
3. You then repeat the action with your other arm until you are back in the plank. Keep doing this and alternating your arms.
Advanced -plank plus arm slide
This will target your chest, triceps, and back. You can add a push-up and extend your arms. Imagine you are sliding your had out and away from you and back. Then alternate to the opposite side. This will get your core strong.
A reverse lunge targets your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. When you target these, you burn more calories because they are such large groups. The more advanced options can also get your cardio going.
Here's how to do it:
1. To start, stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, and put your arms at your sides.
2. Next, step backward with one foot and bend both knees to lower your hips toward the floor.
3. Your knees should bend 90 degrees, while the front knee stays behind your front toes.
4. Then you return to standing and push through your heel on your front foot. You then do this again with the opposite leg. Keep changing sides. The goal is to get your knee on the floor of your back leg. But don’t force it if you feel tight.
Give it an upgrade – split lunge jump
This will get your heart working harder. Begin in your lunge position, then bend knees with your front thigh parallel to the floor.
Then jump up in an explosive motion and switch legs mid-air, so your back leg becomes your front leg.
Make sure you land softly and repeat. Don’t shock your legs by coming down too hard.
Advanced – 180-degree split-squad jump.
Use the same technique as above, but as you jump up, you add a 180-degree turn as you jump up. As you come down, switch your legs.
This exercise is excellent for exercising your core and your stomach muscles. It also helps improve your balance and stability. The easiest way to do this exercise is to grab your knees.
Here's how to do it:
1. First, lie on your back on the floor with your arms and legs extended.
2. Next, brace your core and perform a sit-up. As you do this, bend your knees toward your chest and grab your knees with your arms as they come in close to your chest.
3. Then slowly lower back down to the floor and straighten your legs. Then repeat.
Give it an upgrade – V-ups
1. Lie on your back on the floor with your arms and legs extended.
2. Then as you keep your legs straight, lift your feet up toward the ceiling to form about a 45-degree angle at your hips.
3. As you do this, lift your torso and raise your arms to reach your fingers toward your toes. Then you lower your legs, torso, and arms back down to the floor.
Advanced – quick tempo V-up
Do the same movement as above, but go faster! You can also pause at the top of the movement and really feel your core burn. Then you know it’s working.
This exercise really gets your heart pumping, and that gets you physically fit and burns calories.
Here's how to do it:
1. Start by standing up tall with your feet hip-width apart. Have your arms at your sides.
2. Drive your knee and opposite arm up at the same time, so both are bent 90 degrees.
3. Then lower to the starting stance and repeat the movement with the opposite arm and leg. Then repeat.
4. When marching, think about pulling your heel directly up to avoid overarching your back. Keep your shoulders over your hips.
Give it an upgrade – high knees
Continue the same movement as before, speed it up. When you pull your knee up, do it as high as you can. Do the movement as quickly as you can while maintaining a straight torso.
Advanced – quick high knees
Continue the movement as in high knees, but go faster, almost as if you were running. At the same time, get your knees as high as possible.
There you have it! Five exercises you can do to help improve your physical and mental fitness. No gym necessary. You can do them anytime, anyplace, anywhere!
If you liked this blog post, then check out my other blog post on why stress and anxiety are stopping you from getting your dream body.