There are many modes of strength training that can provide great results, and integrating all of them into your workouts can give you a huge boost in strength. One of these is bodyweight exercises -- those that require you to lift yourself. Because they do not require weights, bodyweight exercises are ideal for those who don’t have access to a gym. Most bodyweight exercises require only an open floor. A few require some type of apparatus to lean on or hang from.
Bodyweight exercises use the individual’s own weight to provide the resistance for the movement -- thus the weight lifted is always the same. Intensity can be changed by adjusting the angle of the body or the length of the movement, or by incorporating additional weights or resistance bands.
Try this bodyweight circuit:
10 pull-ups (jump off a bench or BOSU Ball if you can’t pull yourself up)
10 squat thrusts -- from standing position, drop hands next to feet, push feet rearward into push-up position, bring feet back towards the hands, and stand back up
20 jumping jacks
30 bodyweight squats
10 full sit-ups
That’s 100 repetitions. Time yourself during the circuit and see if you can improve your time after 10 minutes of rest.
Here are a few other exercises using only your body weight as resistance:
Diamond Push-Ups -- More difficult than regular push-ups, these require a great deal of stability in the shoulder and triceps. Similar to a traditional push-up, except you use your fingers and thumbs to form a diamond shape on the ground.
Plyometric Push-Ups -- Push yourself up as fast as possible, letting your hands leave the ground for a short period of time. This helps develop explosive power.
Lunges -- This is one of the best exercises for your lower body, and doing them “walking” style can improve balance as well as strength.
Box Jumps -- Using a step or a plyometric box, jump on, maintain balance, and jump off. Practice “soft” landings – keeping knees and ankles bent throughout the movements.
Follow up your bodyweight exercises with some great core work. Your core is responsible for stabilizing the body during movement. Many exercises -- such as push-ups and squat thrusts -- use the core muscles to hold the body straight. Try this quick core routine:
Stability Ball Crunches -- Sit on a stability ball. Walk your feet forward until you roll onto your back. The ball should be halfway up your back, and you should be able to arch your back to stretch your abdominals. Flex your abdominals (like a half sit-up) to perform a crunch, 15-25 repetitions.
Stability Ball Leg Lifts -- Lie on your back and place a stability ball between your feet. Bend your knees slightly (to take pressure off of your back) and raise the ball towards the sky. Move back to the starting position and repeat for 10-15 repetitions. This exercise targets the muscles in the lower abdominal region, as well as your hip flexors.
Wood-Choppers -- Wrap a resistance band around a post or other stable object. Grab the handles – keeping your arms straight in front of you, twist your upper body to work your oblique muscles. This exercise can be done standing, kneeling or sitting on a stability ball. Twist 10-15 times in each direction.
Now you have worked your entire body with minimal equipment. This type of workout is great at home, or when you are in a crowded gym and don’t want to wait for equipment.
Disclaimer: This material provides general information only. It should not be used in place of the advice, instructions, or treatment given by your doctor or other health care professional.