I get a lot of requests for exercises that require no equipment from people that can’t always make it to Gym Slayer in Elk Grove, CA or who just want to add to their workout program. Here’s the good news. You don’t have to buy a lot of equipment or try to figure out ways to store it, when all you need is your own body. Bodyweight exercises, calisthenics and the latest variation, street workouts have been used for years before the first weight was lifted. You can do these types of exercise no matter where you are, since the equipment is your body and its fight against gravity.
Push-ups are probably the best known bodyweight exercise.
One reason push-ups are so popular is because they get results and you can modify them to work muscles on multiple planes, work a variety of muscles and adjust for levels of fitness. You can do bent knee push-ups if you’re a beginner or go to regular ones if you’re in better shape. Regular ones start in plank position with hands of the floor shoulder width apart and feet resting on the toes. Just lift your body, keeping it straight. Keep your knees on the floor and bend them when you lift, for the bent knee version. Lower yourself back to original position and you’ve completed one push-up. Push-ups build the shoulders, armpit muscles—serratus anterior, back muscles, abdominals and triceps. You can adjust the width of your hands, do a clap at the top or change your position slightly to get a different effect.
Burpees are another really versatile bodyweight exercise.
What is a burpee? It’s like a jump squat. You get into squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart, lower your hands to the floor between your feet. Put your weight on your hands and kick your feet backward to push-up position. Do a push-up and jump to bring your feet back to the position before you kicked back. Stand, reaching your arms overhead as you jump up, landing in the same position. Start again, quickly bending your knees back to squat position. You can modify it for beginners by stepping back rather than jumping back when you’re prone or increase the intensity with more pushups. Burpees work all parts of the body.
Get your glutes into shape as you workout your core muscles with a bridge.
To do a bridge, you start by lying on the floor with your hands to your side, knees bent and feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. Lift your hips off the floor a few inches, while you squeeze both your abdominal muscles and abs. Your body should form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders forming a triangle with the floor. Hold the position, squeezing your glutes and abs as you do, then slowly lower. Besides working your abdominal muscles and glutes, a bridge also works hamstrings and lower back.
- Mountain climbers are total body workouts. Start on your hands and knees, bringing one foot forward and tucking it under your chest as the other is extended. Jump to switch legs, stretching the tucked leg out and bringing the extended one under the chest.
- Planks are versatile, making small changes to work different muscles. Lay on the floor on your stomach. Lift yourself up onto your forearms with arms directly beneath the shoulders and legs extended behind you, feet hip-width apart. Hold the position, squeezing the glutes and core muscles.
- Wall sit. Put your back against a wall and slowly slide down until you’re in squat position with your thighs parallel to the floor. Hold that position. These are also known as wall squats.
- Lunges are another exercise that’s simple and effective. Step forward with one foot, bending your knees until both legs are bent at 90 degree angles, with the back knee touching the floor. Lunges strengthen quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes.
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