For many, working out in a gym offers a lot of convenience: cardio machines, weights racks, and machines that target specific areas of the body. However, while the gym is convenient, it is not the only option. A variety of factors – such as inability to afford a membership, time, or distance – can prevent an individual from taking full advantage of gyms. The good news is that you can utilize a system that’s free and is always available you: your own body!
This past summer, I spent two months working in South Africa and was worried about staying fit due to no gym access and limited opportunities to go on outdoor runs. Luckily, I utilized my body as a tool and was able to develop a variety of short body weight workouts that allowed me to stay active and even slim down over the course of the summer.
The Benefits of Bodyweight Training
- It’s efficient – Many bodyweight workouts get you to exert maximum force in short time intervals, allowing you to burn more calories.
- It helps you burn fat – Bodyweight training revs up your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories and thus fat well after you have completed your workout.
- It’s challenging – Exercises can be modified by changing the number of repetitions or intensity, thus customizing the workout to your fitness level.
- It combines strength and cardio – Switching between strength workouts (squats) and cardio (like jumping jacks) allows for variance in your workout and heart rate.
- It leaves no room for excuses– Now that your body has become your “gym” you have no reason to not get active!
My Top 5 Bodyweight Exercises:
- Burpees – Excellent dynamic move that engages multiple parts of your body (ex. Arms, abs, legs, and back). One burpee on average burns 1 – 1.5 calories.
- Jump Squats – Great move to get your heart pumping and target your legs and glutes.
- Tricep Dips – Say goodbye to loose triceps! This move slims down your arms and tightens it up.
- Push-Ups – I have a love-hate relationship with push-ups but I tend to lean towards the ‘loving” them because they’re an excellent biceps, triceps, upper/lower back, and core workout all in one.
- Mountain Climbers – This exercise combines both cardio and strength training and targets your arms and abs.
Here are 2 total body workouts you can try out whether you are short on time (15 min) or have all the time in the world (45 – 60 min).
15 Minute Bodyweight Workout
Do each set for 5 minutes non-stop and then take a 1-minute break before beginning the next set.
Set 1 – 10 jumping jacks, 5 burpees, 5 jump lunges, 5 jump squats, 5 push-ups
Set 2 – 10 squats, 10 tricep dips, 5 push-ups, 20 high-knees, 10 jumping jacks
Set 3 – 10 frog jumps, 10 walking lunges, 5 push-ups, 3 knee-to-chest jumps, 25 mountain climbers
30 – 60 Minute Bodyweight Workout
Do each set for 5 – 10 minutes (depending on how long you want your workout to be) non-stop and then take a 1-minute break before beginning the next set.
Set 1 – 10 jumping jacks, 3 burpees, 6 lunges, 3 jump squats, 2 push-ups
Set 2 – 10 high knees, 5 tricep plank push-up, 5 burpees, 3 walkout plank to push-up, 10 squats
Set 3 – 10 frog jumps, 15 dips, 5 jump squat to burpee, 15 squats, 10 donkey-kicks per leg
Set 4 – 10 hops, 10 superman, 15 jump lunges, 10 plank jacks, 10 squats with side kick
Set 5 – 30 sec plank, 5 push-ups, 20 bicycle crutches, 20 mountain climbers, 5 push-ups