As I walk into the gym, I notice people on the cardio equipment, others on the machines and others in the free weight area. It's less often that I notice people doing bodyweight exercises, even in the warm-up/stretching area. Maybe it's because you don't have to go to the gym to do bodyweight exercises, but I still find it interesting. Of course a person's goal should determine how they train and bodyweight workouts aren't always the answer to that, but there is some thought out there that until we master bodyweight exercises, maybe we shouldn't be adding an external load with weights. That makes a lot of sense. Why not be able to crank out a serious number of push-ups anywhere before obsessing over how much you can bench press at the gym? A few benefits to bodyweight workouts are:
- They can be done anywhere, anytime
- They require little to no additional equipment
- It's a great way to master your form before adding external load
- They can be grouped into circuits for serious fat-burning workouts
Examples of bodyweight exercises are squats, lunges, step-ups, various jumps, push-ups, pull-ups, inverted rows, plank, crunches, bear crawls. The variations are many and the possibilities are endless. If you're short on time, you can't get to the gym, you need some variety, you want to do cardio but can't tolerate another hour on a machine, or you just want a good, solid, fat-burning workout that you can do anytime, anywhere, try a bodyweight circuit workout.
Choose two leg exercises and two upper body exercises and one ab exercise. Determine the order of your exercises, how many reps you will do of each one, how long you will rest between circuits and how long your total workout will be. You will want to alternate your lower and upper body exercises so one is resting while the other is working and put your ab exercise last. You're now ready to get started. Here's an example:
Squat, 8 reps
Pull-up or inverted row, 8 reps
Lunge, 8 reps each leg
Push-up, 8 reps
Side plank, 30 seconds each side
Rest 30 seconds
Repeat circuit as many times as possible for 20 minutes.
You can choose from multiple variations of these basic exercises. All you'd need for this workout is some space and a bar (the swingset in the backyard would suffice). Keep the intensity high but don't compromise your form. If pull-ups or inverted rows are too challenging at first and you have an exercise tube, you can use it by wrapping it around a steady object and using it for standing rows.
Try a bodyweight circuit workout! Make up your own or try Turbulence Training Bodyweight Workouts.
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