By Ana Snyder, M.S., Exercise Physiology; CPT, FNS
Until COVID-19, I never took home workouts seriously. I thought bodyweight exercises were best for new exercisers or those looking to get a little movement throughout their day. As an athlete who’s been lifting for years, I didn’t think they could give me the results I was looking for. When the pandemic hit, I was forced to turn to home workouts like everyone else. At first, it was really hard for me to focus, but after a few attempts, I began to get extremely creative with my full-body workout plan. Let me tell you, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I could achieve a lot with little to no equipment.
Like anything else, if you don’t put effort into coming up with a good workout plan, you won’t see the results you want. No-equipment exercises are only as effective as you make them. In this day and age, I think it is essential to know some basic movements you can do anywhere you are. Although many of us now have or soon will have access to gyms, there may be a day you’re traveling or just can’t make it to the gym and you want to squeeze something in. Let’s face it, we live in a busy world! So let’s dive right in and learn how to stay fit no matter what gets thrown at us.
No-equipment workouts can be daunting for anyone. I mean, I found it difficult, and I’ve been working out and training clients for years. As such, I want to start by focusing on ways beginners can easily get their sweat on at home.
Even if you’re a beginning exerciser, you’ve probably heard of HIIT workouts. HIIT workouts, or high-intensity interval training, is one of the easiest and quickest ways to get in shape. It improves cardiovascular stamina, strength, endurance, and burns fat. HIIT training is known for being extremely intense, but don’t let that scare you! If you are new to exercise, you will have to perform an exercise with much less exertion to get results. The fitter you get, the more you can gradually increase intensity. Walking intervals, for example, might be sufficient if you are used to being stationary.
What most people also don’t realize is that HIIT workouts don’t have to be high impact to fit into a full-body workout plan. If you have or want to prevent an injury you can use low impact moves to get the same metabolism-boosting effects. Low impact movements are perfect for beginners as well helping your joints adjust to the exercises.
This is an AMRAP-style workout, meaning you’ll do as many reps as possible for each exercise within thirty seconds. It’s easy for beginners to track their progress using this method because you’ll be able to do more reps in each time period as you get fitter. After you complete each exercise you’ll take a ten-second break before moving on to the next. When you complete all of the exercises, take a forty-five-second break and repeat again. Repeat the entire circuit two times for a total of three.
If the jumping jacks are too hard on your joints, try the low impact version below. Instead of doing butt kicks, you can also alternate thigh stretches by pulling each ankle toward your glute. Lastly, push-ups can also be modified by doing them from your knees or at an incline.
Whether you’re on the road, at home, or in a rush, it’s so important to have a full-body strength training workout that can be done anytime, anywhere. In general, most muscle groups are easy to work out on some level, but adjusting the intensity or finding exercises that you can alter to meet your specific needs can be difficult. I also found it hard to find no-equipment exercises for your back as well. The no-equipment workout shared here will provide ways to challenge your entire body, including your back muscles, and ways to increase/decrease intensity.
To start this workout, do each exercise for thirty seconds before moving on to the next. After you’ve completed the first circuit, take a break for twenty seconds and then repeat. Repeat the circuit for a total of four times before moving on to the next.
To do a squat, place your feet hip-width apart and turn your toes out slightly to allow your hips more range of motion. Lower yourself down into a sitting position, keeping your weight in the heels of your feet. When you have lowered yourself down as far as you can without dropping your chest, stand back up, and repeat. If the traditional squat is too difficult, practice sitting on a low chair, tapping the seat with your butt, and standing up. Do not fully sit down between squats. On the other hand, if you want to make squats harder, use a triple extension by raising yourself all the way to the top of your toes before going back down.
Stand up straight, and step forward with your left leg. Keep your weight on your left heel and bend your left knee until it’s parallel with the floor. Pause for a second and then draw your right leg up to meet your left. Then step your right foot forward and repeat. To decrease the difficulty, do a stationary lunge. Stand in a split stance and lower yourself down into a lunge position. Repeat for fifteen seconds and then switch sides. To increase the difficulty of the movement, continue with the walking lunges and don’t put your foot down in between lunges. Instead, go directly from one lunge to the next without resetting your feet.
Begin in a regular push-up position. Lock your elbows, and alternate between pinching your shoulder blades together and pushing them apart.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and give yourself a slight bend in your knees. Push your hips back, and push your shoulder blades down and back. Raise your arms into a Y position, lower them, and then raise your arms out to shoulder height in a T position, keeping your elbows straight the entire time. Lower your arms one more time and then bend your elbows past ninety degrees. Raise your hands up to your shoulder height, hold this W position, and squeeze your elbows together. Repeat the entire movement starting from the Y raise until thirty seconds are complete.
Lie on your stomach, push your shoulder blades down, and raise and lower your arms overhead. Squeeze your shoulder blades as you lower your arms and squeeze your glutes throughout the entire movement.
Tricep High Plank: Start on all fours with hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Step each leg back into a high plank position on your palms and toes. Squeeze your heels and glutes together, and draw your stomach up toward the ceiling. Move your feet farther away to make it harder; move them closer to make it easier.
The standard guidelines for weekly exercise are two to three days of resistance training and 150 minutes of cardiovascular training. As effective as these protocols are, many of us just don’t have that much time to commit to working out. To address this issue, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) developed the seven-minute workout. This workout combines aerobic and resistance exercise in twelve different exercises that only use body weight, a chair, and a wall. Essentially, it gives you the same results you’d get from a long run and a weight training session in one bout.
Like the other workouts in this article, the seven-minute workout requires intervals of thirty seconds separated by recovery periods. In this case, however, the ACSM has only provided ten-second rest periods. The order and intensity at which the exercises are completed are also very important. Each exercise should be completed at maximum power. Although it’s extremely uncomfortable, it’s over very quickly and worth the effort.
Now you have the tools you need to stay fit wherever you are! In order to have an effective fitness routine, you should remember to warm-up and cool down for each workout. Warm-ups increase your blood flow and get your muscles and ligaments ready for movement. Five to ten minutes of light activity such as walking, arm circles, or other dynamic movements is more than enough to get you prepped. Unlike what’s commonly taught, stretches should never be used for a warm-up. It’s extremely dangerous to stretch a cold muscle. They’re perfect for cooldowns, though—preventing muscle stiffness and blood pressure crashes.
To stay consistent with your full body workout plan, you may also want to consider varying your exercise routine. Mixing up your workout can help you from reaching a plateau and keep your program more interesting. One way to do this is through cross-training. For example, you may want to try a cardio workout at home a couple of times a week instead of doing HIIT every day.
Changing up a workout routine isn’t absolutely necessary if you don’t want to or feel uncomfortable doing so. Some people are content with a predictable routine. If that’s you, don’t worry! Remember, remaining consistent is what’s most important. However, if you like to keep challenging yourself physically and mentally, keep pushing to reach new levels.
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