Your first response to the idea of working out without weights might be: why on earth would you bother? Gyms have lots of specialist equipment designed specifically to help you to build muscle and exercise different parts of your body – so why would you not use it?
We can see that for many people, exercising with out using gym equipment might seem a little bit of a fad – albeit one that has been around for quite a while now. Well, we really do believe that there are very good reasons for ditching the equipment for a while and giving working out without weights a go.
The anytime, anywhere workout
The first, and possibly the most compelling argument for many people, is the convenience factor. Gyms probably make more money from the millions of people who pay their fees and then never turn up for the next 12 months than they do from those who actually do use their facilities regularly. And while gyms are fantastic places to work out – not least because you will often get expert coaching on hand – they are not everyone’s ideal environment for getting fitter and stronger. So bodyweight exercises or callisthenics dispose of the need to go to the gym – meaning that it is much harder to find excuses not to do them. They are also great exercises to learn because you can do them literally anywhere – whether it is in a hotel room if you are away on business, or in the park.
The second point is that bodyweight exercises are a simply a seriously effective way to both get some solid cardio exercise as well as build muscle. They’re a great option if you want to burn a lot of calories and most bodyweight exercises will also work multiple muscle groups for you too. These kinds of exercise are great then whether you are looking to get bigger or lose some weight – and often take less time than traditional cardio exercises like running or working on various pieces of equipment.
So what kinds of bodyweight exercises do we recommend, and what kinds of results can you expect to see?
The exercises we’ve picked here are great because they’re quick to do, and don’t require a lot of room to do them. They’re great both for your muscles and also give you that all important cardio workout too. We’d recommend trying it just a few times each week to begin with and then build up the number of reps per session.
Ah – the plank. It’s probably the best known bodyweight exercise, but that doesn’t make it easier to do (if you’re doing it properly). If you’ve never tried it before, it’s pretty straightforward. Push yourself up on your arms as if you’re doing push up, with your palms on the ground directly beneath your shoulders. Make sure your abs and glutes are fully engaged, your knees are together and your legs are straight. Your shoulders should be back and you should form a perfectly straight line from head to toe. Keep this position for 30 seconds, take a 10 second breather and repeat four times.
One for the more flexible among you now. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend down from the waist and put your hands flat on the ground. Next, walk your hands out and away in front of you, finishing the plank position you were in a moment ago. Do a quick push up while you’re there, and then walk back on your hands before standing up again. Now do it nine more times.
- Glute Bridges
Onto your back now – put your arms by your side and bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor behind your bottom. Push down through your heels and lift your hips and back up, so that your weight is supported only by your shoulders. Try and hold it for five seconds, and do it 20 times in total.
This is a simple but surprisingly punishing way to finish this short work out – 40 rounds of squats. With your feet apart, and keeping your posture upright, sit back on your heels until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Once you’re there, push back up to a standing position. Do 20, have rest for 10 seconds, and then another 20.
If you’ve never tried working out without weights before, give it a go – and you may even find it easier to stick to than a regular trip to the gym.