If you’re not familiar with body weight exercising, you should be. No gym membership? No equipment? No time to travel to a place that has all the equipment? No problem! With a body weight program, you don’t need equipment or time to travel. All you need is enough floor space to do some simple exercises, using your body weight to provide resistance for your muscles.
There are many advantages to a body weight workout program:
- It doesn’t cost anything
- It’s flexible and varied
- You can do the exercises just about everywhere
- It keeps you limber and agile
- It adds to your current strength
- It adds to the capacity of your muscle reactivity
Whether you are a beginner, a workout fanatic or simply returning to exercise after years as a desk jockey, a body weight workout can be the perfect addition to your daily routine. It can be used to ease yourself back into an exercise regimen or to maintain a well-toned body while away from your usual equipment.
A body weight workout should tackle the major muscle groups. But don’t worry—it doesn’t have to be boring. One trainer boasted 120 versions of pushups, from beginner versions for those unable to perform even one standard pushup, to more advanced techniques that push the limits of agility and strength.
1) Pushups—Beginners can begin by pushing up against a wall or countertop, or use your knees as a fulcrum and perform half-body pushups until you can build up the necessary strength to do a standard pushup. You can go to the next level with full-body pushups, with your form plank-straight, palms on the floor, shoulder-width apart, arms fully extended. More advanced techniques include finger-tip pushups, one-arm pushups, thrust and clap pushups and many others. You may even invent a few versions of your own!
2) Squats—Like pushups, this exercise can seem deceptively simple. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and lower yourself slowly to a squatting position. It may help to do this against a wall to help keep good form. Doing it slowly helps to increase the body weight effect and also helps to save your knees. You should be able to build a nice burn in your thighs with this. More advanced body weight squats can include jumping or zigzag hops for variety.
3) Pull-ups—Granted, this is not a pure body weight routine. It does require a bar or edge of some kind, but it’s extremely light on equipment costs. If you can’t do one chin-up, then you might suspend a pipe or thick dowel across two chair seats with enough room between them for you to lay down face-up. Grab the bar and lift yourself off of the floor to build your upper back muscles.
Once you’re ready, start in on full pull-ups or chin-ups. If you have a tall enough doorway at home, find a sturdy way to install a pipe or thick dowel (strong enough to carry your full body weight). Blocks of wood nailed into a U-shape will allow you to remove the pipe or dowel between sessions. Difficulty can be added by slowing down the rate of the pull-up, offsetting your grip so that your hands are wider than shoulder-width apart or adding a leg raise during each repetition to strengthen your core.