It doesn’t take a gym membership to get fit or even to build muscle mass. Bodyweight training—exercises that require no equipment other than your own body—is an efficient way to boost cardiovascular fitness, burn fat and build muscle.
The benefits of bodyweight training
Surprisingly, a 20-minute bodyweight circuit can be just as effective as spending two hours in the gym, and in our busy culture, efficiency is key. Because you don’t need any equipment, it’s easy to quickly move from one exercise to the next, boosting your heart rate and burning more calories with a short rest time.
Bodyweight training also combines cardio and weight training into one fat-burning workout. In between sets of squats or lunges, do a minute of jumping jacks or burpees to keep your heart pumping. There’s scientific evidence that high intensity interval training (HIIT), such as bodyweight circuits, will help speed up your metabolism, thus burning more fat.
In addition to these benefits, bodyweight training:
• is cheap and convenient.
• can be accomplished at any fitness level.
• improves core strength.
• increases flexibility and improves balance.
• yields results.
Bodyweight exercises you can do at home
Ready to get moving? Here are some of the best bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere. For beginners, start by cycling through the moves as a circuit. Do 10 reps each, repeating the circuit three times.
Jumping lunges: Starting with your feet together, jump into a split squat (lunge position) with one leg in front and the other behind. Jump back into standing position. Alternate legs.
Burpee: Starting in the standing position, bend over and place your hands on the ground in the pushup position, jumping your feet behind you until your body is in the plank position. Do a single pushup, jump your feet back underneath you and jump straight up, clapping your hands overhead. Do this full motion as quickly as possible.
Tuck jump: Standing with your knees slightly bent, jump as high as possible, bringing your knees in toward your chest and extending your arms out. Land with your knees slightly bent and quickly jump again.
Monkey pushup: Begin in a traditional pushup position. Push up and when your arms are fully extended, rotate and kick your left leg underneath your body and out to the right side. Alternate sides.
Bear crawl: Starting on your hands and knees, rise up onto your toes, tighten your core and slowly move forward with the right arm and leg followed by the left arm and leg.
Wall sit: Lean against a wall, standing with your feet hip-width apart. Slowly lower your body into a seated position until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure your knees are directly above your ankles. Hold for 60 seconds per set (or as long as you can hold it).
Step up: Find a step or bench and step up onto the elevated surface, bringing your leg into the straight, standing position. Step down and alternate legs.
All bodyweight exercises should be completed with your core engaged for stability. If you need a greater challenge and your hands are free, grab a set of dumbbells to add some extra resistance.
Note: Consult with your physician before starting any exercise program.