Friday, January 16, 2015

Executive Summary - Getting Fit Without Equipment, aka Bodyweight Training

Bodyweight training in 500 words or less.

Disclaimer - Talking about exercise.  Don't overdo it.  Don't hurt yourself.  Listen to your body.  Talk to your doctor first.  Blah, blah, blah, and so on.

Happy New Year!

Time to get in shape.  But...
  • The gym is too far away / expensive
  • I travel a lot
  • I can't carve out the time
One way to mitigate this is use the weight you carry around every day.  Your body.  The trick is getting the big muscle groups while also working the core and secondary muscles.  Push-up and squat motions are incredibly important, in my opinion.  Here are some more thoughts and ideas.

First, Remember The Term "Bodyweight"

In the old days we called this calisthenics, but the trendy term is "bodyweight" training/exercises.  If you are looking for some good exercises, this keyword can be valuable.

Men's Health Book - Squats, Pull-ups, Push-Ups (More or Less)

Men's Health has a book on this that advocates that, for the most part, you can get fit solely through a combination of push-ups, squats, and pull-ups.  Sure pull-ups can sort of require equipment, so feel free to cry "foul on that.  Still, a handy reference.

Men's Health Magazine

Want good free stuff with a lot of variety?  Head over to their magazine, search for "bodyweight" and you should have plenty of stuff to do.

"Prison Workout" - Burpee With Push-Up and Jump

Some folks advocate the burpee as a great single full body workout.  It's pretty good and requires very little space, but it can be boring.  Some folks have different interpretations of what a burpee is.

I highly recommend the variation where you do a push-up on the ground and leap into the air when you come back up.  It interrupts your motion, engages your core and upper body a LOT more, and makes the whole exercise more effective.  Read the whole motion and watch this one-minute video from some guy who does it the way I like:

If you can't watch the video:
  1. Start in standing position
  2. Fully squat to the ground, placing your hands on the ground
  3. Kick your feet back into a plank position (aka, the "front leaning rest" for my fellow veterans)
  4. Execute one good push-up
  5. Bring your feet back up to a full squat
  6. Jump as high as you can and land in a standing position
Try a reverse pyramid, where you start with 10-in-row, break for 60 seconds, 9-in-a-row, break for 60 seconds, and so on, down to 1.  This can be very intense, listen to your body and scale back as needed. It's as intense as you make it.

A great backup plan for working out, since you can do it just about anywhere.

Don't Forget Flexibility

This post is not going to teach you to stretch, but I will remind you that it's probably more important than regular exercise unless you like injuries and chronic pain.

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