No Gym? No Problem: A Herculean Home Body-Weight Workout
As we continue to enter phase 3, fitness facilities have re-opened under new regulations. As some anxiously line up to get back into their fitness routines, some are still apprehensive about returning to gyms, and others may not be able to afford a gym membership or have access to a free fitness facility at all. However, regular physical activity is imperative in order to maintain cardiovascular health, joint mobility, muscular endurance, healthy body composition, regulate blood pressure and metabolism, etc. Equally as important, exercise releases endorphins and helps to regulate your mood, as well as reduce anxiety and feelings of depression. Personally, I know that if I miss a couple workouts a week I do not feel like myself, and I also experience having a noticeably smaller capacity to handle daily stressors. The truth is, even if you may not have a gym membership or access to a fitness facility there are numerous exercises you can do with nothing but a little motivation, a small amount of space (such as a public park or room), and that wonderful vessel that carries you through your daily life.
Contrary to popular belief, you don't need a gym membership in order to get in shape. There are a variety of exercises you can do with your own body-weight and it's integral to master utilizing your own body-weight and proper form before using machines, cables or added resistance. Gravity along with your body-weight creates a great amount of resistance, especially when doing plyometric exercises (also known as jump-training). Below is a full body workout that you can do anywhere, with nothing but your body or a can of soup, water bottle, textbook , etc.
Before you get started, it is important to do a 5-10 minute warm-up in order to warm up the muscles, get oxygen flowing to the muscles and increase your range of motion. You are less likely to injure yourself if you warm-up before exercising and it also helps to mentally prepare yourself for getting your sweat on! You want to break a sweat while you are warming up, but also want to to be able to reserve your energy for the rest of the workout. Whether it is going for a 5-10 minute jog, dynamic stretching, jumping jack intervals, running on the spot, walking up and down stairs, etc, don't forget to prepare your body for exercise.
This workout should take anywhere from 40-60 minutes, depending on how much rest you choose to take between sets. In this workout, 10-15 reps of 3-4 exercises (1 circuit) are done without rest in between each exercise and are then repeated for 3-4 sets. After completing 3-4 sets of the first circuit, move on to the next circuit and repeat it 3-4 times, and so on...If you would like less of a challenge, you can lower your reps as well as sets. If you would like more of a challenge, do higher reps and more sets.
1) Push-ups - Push-ups are great for the chest, shoulders, triceps and for building overall upper body strength. If normal push-ups are too challenging, there are two types of easier modified push-ups you can perform: Knee push-ups or wall push-ups. 10-15 reps
*Watch the three videos below to learn how to do wall push-ups, knee push-ups and regular push-ups
2) Squat with Bicep Curl - This compound exercise works both the muscle groups in your legs as well as biceps. I love compound exercises because they are productive and get more done at once. I used a large water bottle to add resistance to the bicep curl. 10-15 reps
*Below are four pictures of me performing a squat with bicep curl. When you squat, you want your feet to be shoulder width apart or a little wider. You want to keep the core tight and upper body upright as you flex the hips as if you are sitting on an imaginary chair. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor and when you push up, push through your heels to engage the glutes and maintain balance. You can substitute the medicine ball with a large water bottle or a couple cans of soup!
3) Lying Leg Raises - Lying leg lifts work the lower abdominal muscles, obliques and hip flexors. 10-15 reps
*Repeat Circuit 3-4 x*
1) Thrusters - This exercise is another compound exercise that is a combination of a squat and shoulder press. It works the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and shoulder muscles. 10-15 reps
*Watch the video below to observe how to do thrusters. Substitute the dumbbells with a heavy object or two moderate weighted objects.
2) Russian Twists - Russian twists are great for working the internal and external obliques, and abdominal muscles. If you raise your ankles in the air, you can challenge yourself more with this exercise as you will have to balance and use your lower abs more. If you are looking for an easier modification, keep your feet planted on the ground. 10-15 reps each side
3) Ab Bicycles - This exercise works the obliques, hip flexors and abdominal muscles. 10-15 reps each side
*Repeat Circuit 3-4 x*
1) Tricep Extension with Water Bottle - This exercise works your triceps and shoulders. 10-15 reps
*Use the video below to observe how to do a proper tricep extension. Substitute the dumbbell with a heavy object, and remember to keep your elbows as close to your ears as possible- do not let them move outwards.
2) Backward Lunge with Water Bottle - Lunges are great for strengthening the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings. They also help to stabilize the knee and ankle joints and improve balance. 10-15 reps each leg
3) Hip Thrusts/ Glute Bridges with Water Bottle - This exercise is great for isolating the glute muscles by teaching optical hip extension. It is important to open up the hips before performing this exercise as tight hips will limit your ability to fully contract the glutes. 10-15 reps
4) One-Armed Bent-over Rows with Water Bottle - Rows are some of the most effective exercises for building back strength if done correctly. 10-15 reps each side
*Watch the video below to see how to do a bent-over row. Instead of doing two arms at the same time, focus on one side at a time. You can also lean on something for support to make it easier.
*Repeat Circuit 3-4 x*
1) Standing Walk-Out Plank - These are tough! But they are amazing for the core and shoulders. They also stretch out the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. If these are too tough you can modify them with a regular plank instead. If you choose to modify it to a regular plank, hold it for 45-60s. Otherwise, if you choose to challenge yourself with the standing walk-out plank, do 10 reps
2) Jump Squats - This powerful explosive plyometric exercise is great for the legs and fast twitch muscle fibers. 10-15 reps
*Repeat Circuit 3-4 x*
Now that you have completed your workout, give yourself a pat on the back! If you like this workout, there are plenty more you can find which utilize mainly body weight and can be done anywhere. When you are done exercising, it is imperative to do static stretching (holding stretches for 20-30s at least) in order to lengthen the muscles you just shortened by working them. I like to stretch for at least 15-20 minutes after I exercise, as its important for range of motion, recovery, and preventing injury. Below is a clip showing The Core Four. By stretching these four main muscle groups: Glutes, hips, quadratus lumborum and latissimus dorsi, it helps to mobilize all key muscles. If you have tight muscles, I recommend adding either extra sets of these stretches or others to make your stretching routine longer.
Remember, our body does so much for us. It's important to give it what it needs/deserves; one of these things is regular exercise (2-5 times a week). Your mind and body will thank you later, trust me! Remember to not over-do it. Always listen to your body and take breaks when necessary. If something feels off, I advise you to consult a medical professional. Otherwise, enjoy getting fit anywhere!