Not Ready To Hit The Gym? These Bodyweight Exercises Are For You
Want to work out but don’t feel comfortable stepping foot in your local gym? Perhaps the gym doesn’t appeal to you? Whatever the reason is, if you’re looking for a workout you can do outside of the gym, this article is for you.
If you’re finding it hard to muster up the courage to step foot in the weights room, you should try taking advantage of your own body weight to get in shape.
Many people forget you don’t need a dumbbell or treadmill to get exercising. All you need is your own bodyweight, plus the determination and motivation to just get moving.
Research has even shown that if you’re looking to pack on some muscle and tone up, bodyweight exercises and resistance training are ‘comparable’ from one another1. So don’t ever believe you can’t make the same progress at home.
Below is a full set of body weight exercises you can follow in the comfort of your own home or garden. You don’t need any equipment – just yourself!
Before you begin a workout, it’s good to prepare your body for exercise with a dynamic warmup. These movements help to reduce the risk of injury and may even improve your performance levels so you can have a better workout2. The time you take to warm up can depend on how intensely you plan to exercise.
But to get you started, here are some dynamic exercises to prepare you for your workout.
|Arm circles||10 forward & 10 backward|
|Leg swing||10 on each leg|
|March on the spot||30 seconds|
Bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere
Squats are a real calorie burner, hitting your thighs, glutes and quads – and stimulating muscle growth in practically every leg muscle.
Squatting your own bodyweight is a great way to master this move if you do want to add an external load. You can make them even more difficult by adding an element of squat jumps. Complete them as part of a high intensity interval training circuit to help boost your metabolism and enhance your fat burn potential.
- Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and point your toes out slightly.
- Place your arms out in front of you and keep your chest proud.
- Keeping your weight on your feet, bend your knees and send your hips backwards. Think of it as if you’re about to sit on an imaginary chair.
- Keep your knees aligned with your feet and squat as low as you can. Engage the rest of your body as you bring yourself back up to the starting position.
Add these to your workouts – try doing 8 bodyweight squats for 3 sets.
Push-ups are the ultimate test for your pectoral muscles, triceps and anterior deltoids, working every part of your upper body. They may also benefit your entire midsection as a whole.
- Get down on all fours on the ground and into the plank position, with your hands about shoulder-width apart. To keep your body steady, ground your toes into the floor.
- Engaging your core and glutes, keep your back flat as you lower your body to the floor.
- When your elbows reach a 90-degree angle, push back up to the starting position.
Add these to your workouts – try doing 10 push-ups for 3 sets.
This exercise is often included in HIIT workouts to get your heart rate pumping and build your cardio endurance. Targeting your arm strength, core, lower legs and agility, mountain climbers almost offer a total body workout with just one move.
- Replicate the push-up starting position and hold your entire body weight on your hands and toes.
- Keeping your body straight, raise one foot off the floor and drive it upwards into your chest while keeping the rest of your body straight and controlled.
- Alternate with each leg throughout the exercise – it will feel like you’re running against the floor. Go at a tempo you feel comfortable with.
Add these to your workouts – try doing mountain climbers for 30 seconds on, with 30 seconds off and repeat 3 times.
The glute bridge focuses in on your glutes, hamstrings, lower back and ab muscles. It’s an excellent move for better posture as it isolates the core and strengthens the stabilization of your spine.
- Lie on the ground facing towards the ceiling. Bend at your knees, keeping your feet level on the ground. Place your arms at your side with your palms facing down.
- Bring your hips up off the floor until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line.
- Hold this bridged position for a couple of seconds before slowly lowering back down.
Add these to your workouts – try doing 10 glute bridges for 3 sets.
This core busting move will test your midsection as well as upper body strength and stability.
- Get in the push-up position on the ground.
- Press your toes into the floor and engage your glutes to keep your body straight.
- Keep your neck and spine in a neutral position.
- Hold this position for at least 20 seconds – you can hold it longer as you get more comfortable with this exercise.
Add these to your workouts – try doing a plank for 20 seconds on and 20 seconds off and repeat 3 times.
We couldn’t miss out this all-rounder. The burpee is ideal for eliciting a cardiovascular response while engaging both upper and lower body muscle groups.
Add these to a HIIT workout and you’ll be burning calories at a maximum rate.
- Get into a squat position with your back straight and knees slightly bent. Place your hands on the ground so they’re just inside your feet.
- Kick both legs out so your weight is on your hands and you’re in a push-up position.
- Do one push-up and return to the squat position, jumping up as high as you can and raising your hands.
Add these to your workouts – try doing 8 burpees for 3 sets.
The bridge kick
This complete move works the hamstrings, abs, glutes and lower back and is great if you’re not able to complete the squat exercise due to knee or back pain.
- Sit on the floor with one leg bent, one straight and your fingers facing towards your feet.
- Press your palms into the floor and squeeze your glutes as you raise your hips to about the same level as your stabilizing knee.
- At the same time, raise your straight leg until it’s at a 90-degreen angle to your torso.
- Slowly lower back down to the starting position and complete all the reps on one side, then switch.
Add these to your workouts – try doing 10 bridge kicks on each leg for 3 sets.
Lying leg raise
When you want to build strong abs and core muscles, the lying leg raise is definitely a move you want in your workout.
- Lie down on your back and place your hands under your buttocks.
- Place your legs out in front of you, keeping your feet together.
- Raise both your legs and keep them together by bending at the hips until they’re completely flexed.
- Return to the starting position and repeat the move.
Add these to your workouts – try doing 10 lying leg raises for 3 sets.
The lunge is a serious lower body exercise which also has the ability to work your ab muscles and improve stability.
- Start with your feet about hip-width apart and step forward with your right leg in one long stride. Be sure not to go too narrow here.
- Face forwards at all times and keep your back straight. Place your hands on your hips if you need help with stability.
- Lower your body until your knee behind you is just above the ground and your front knee is at around a 90-degree angle.
- Straighten up by pushing through your right heel and return to standing. Repeat the move with the other leg.
Add these to your workouts – try doing 10 lunges on each leg for 3 sets.
Cooling down after your workout is the best way to start the recovery process3. It can lower your risk of injury, boost blood flow and reduce stress on your muscles. It’ll also ensure your body cools down to normal body temperature, bringing your heart rate and blood pressure down to regular levels too.
To cool down, you can either do any of the bodyweight exercises in this article at a lower intensity or give the dynamic exercises a go again. A light jog after your workout will also help to flush out any lactic acid and decrease muscle soreness.
The bottom line
You don’t need to join a gym to get your regular exercise in. These bodyweight exercises are prime examples of ways to get moving in the comfort of your own home or garden and will help you build muscle, fire up your metabolism and burn that extra body fat. All you need is a little motivation.
So, incorporate these bodyweight exercises in your workouts, build a routine, make working out a habit and get in your best ever shape!
Want to really optimize your workouts – at home or the gym?
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