Make the world your gym with these bodyweight moves
The gym can be a great place to work up a sweat and strengthen your muscles, but you might not always have time to make the trek there and back. The good news is that you can actually fit in a great workout no matter where you are. Just take a look in the mirror and you’ll see all the equipment you need.
Bodyweight workouts, or exercises that rely on the weight of your body rather than dumbbells, barbells or machines, are a great way to improve your strength, balance and overall fitness. Ditching the weights can also help prevent some common gym injuries and improve your form, since you use the full range of motion in your joints.
Before you start yawning over how boring this workout will be, know that we’re not just talking push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups. The following twists on classic bodyweight exercises will liven up your workout and help you reach your fitness goals without the time or hassle of heading to the gym:
- Pistol Squats: While traditional squats can be a great way to build lower body strength, they can put excess stress on your knees and groin if completed with too much weight or improper form. This variation uses one leg while the other is extended forward in the air, gives you the strength-building benefit of added resistance without the injury risk.
- Clockwise Lunges: Another great way to improve leg strength and mobility, lunges work the quads and hamstrings. To add a twist to the traditional lunge, complete them in a clockwise sequence, stepping forward first, then to the side and finally backward. Repeat these steps with both legs.
- Wall Sits: Work the core and upper thighs by completing this “seated” exercise that has your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your back pushed against a wall. Set a timer for about 60 seconds, taking a few minutes between reps to recover.
- Plyometric Push-ups: Traditional push-ups are a great way to increase upper body strength, but this variation can also help improve quick twitch muscle reaction – essential for improving strength. Start by doing a regular push-up, but when you reach the top, use a quick burst to propel yourself slightly off the ground. When your hands hit the ground again, immediately start the next rep.
- Side Planks: The plank position (feet extended behind the body and elbows anchored on the ground) can be a great way to improve core strength. To work the obliques, follow up your traditional plank by turning on your side, with only one arm on the ground.
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Photo credit: Eric Allix Rogers