As humans, we have a tendency to make things complicated. Often the motivation for this tendency is financial. The fitness industry is a case in point. It’s given birth to a multi-billion industry that has convinced us all that we need to go to a gym, spend a hundred bucks a month on supplements and invest in the latest fat-loss/muscle-building breakthrough.
The reality is that, when you were, born, you were equipped with everything you need to get in great shape at home. Thanks to bodyweight training you get fit, strong and lean without spending a dime. In this article, we discover why bodyweight home workouts make sense and how to incorporate them into your fitness plan.
Why Bodyweight Workouts at Home
It is quite ironic that the most effective, simple and basic training method in existence has been swamped by expensive training machines and gadgets that are, generally, nowhere near as effective.
Why is a bodyweight home workout plan so effective?
That’s because the majority of weight training exercises isolate specific muscles that involve only a small percentage of your body’s muscle mass. In contrast, a bodyweight workout routine at home involves many different muscles at the same time. (1)
Bodyweight home workouts also require more of your core area than weight training exercises. Your core is the center of your body. It is the power base from which your strength emanates. (2)
Bodyweight home workout routines have you moving through a range of motion that is often much safer than what you do with weightlifting exercises. For example, the weighted squat vs lunges exercise places a tremendous amount of pressure on your spine. Bodyweight quad exercises like pistol squats, the wall sit, and jump lunges, however, directly work the quads without negatively affecting the spine.
Bodyweight home workout routines are ideal for functional training. If an exercise is to be functional, it needs to resemble the event being trained for as closely as possible. The bench press and deadlift do not do that. However, moves like push-ups, pull-ups, and plyometric exercises do.
Most of us were introduced to exercise through body-weight exercises. This was usually forced upon as at school. The compulsive nature of ‘gym class’ workouts quickly made many of us hate doing push-ups and pull-ups. The moment we left school we ditched them for good.
Well, it’s time to take a second look at bodyweight exercises.
Can You Train Hard Enough?
A complaint that is often raised about bodyweight workouts at home is that you aren’t able to adjust the difficulty of an exercise as you get stronger. The reality is that there are so many different variations of home workout routines that allow you to increase the intensity of a basic move.
Take the push-up for example. You can do a basic version on your knees that is suitable for the most unfit person on the planet. From there you can advance through as many as 30 variations, each one increasing the intensity, until you get to the Planche Push Up, which your average Pro Bodybuilder would struggle to do.
When it comes to home workouts with equipment, there are four ways to increase the difficulty of an exercise:
- Increase or decrease the amount of leverage
- Do the exercise on an unstable platform
- Pause at the beginning, middle or end of the movement
- Convert the exercise into a single limb movement
Let’s use the push-up to illustrate how to do these four interventions:
The simplest version of the push-up is to stand two feet away from the wall with your arms stretched out to touch the wall. Bring your upper body back and forth. From there, move to an elevated surface, like the edge of a window sill. Then move to the conventional floor push-up. To make it harder, elevate your feet on a coffee table.
Perform your pushups on the floor with both hands on a basketball.
Hold the bottom position of the push-up for 5 seconds.
Single Limb Movement
Perform one arm push-ups.
Best Home Workout Routines
Bodyweight training can be used for every type of training, including:
- General fitness
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
- Core conditioning
- Weight Loss
This type of training is ideal for beginners or those who are using bodyweight training as an addition to weight training. It often involves conventional sets and reps (i.e 3 sets of 10).
|Exercise||Sets & Reps|
|Squat||3 x 20|
|Push-up||3 x 20|
|Pull-up||3 x 8-10|
|Lunges||3 x 15|
|Body row||3 x 12-15|
High-Intensity Interval Training [link to HIIT article] is all about speed, repetition and very little rest. This program is built around one of the best calorie-burning bodyweight moves in existence; the burpee. Try 8-10 reps on each round. This is the best at home workout if you want to know how to get ripped at home.
|Exercise||Sets & Reps|
|Jogging warm up||2 mins|
|Jogging warm-down||2 mins|
The core is your body’s power base. Strengthening and conditioning it will provide you with a dynamic springboard for all of your throwing, hitting and kicking movements. It will also provide muscular support to your spine and strengthen the abdominals. Perform each exercise for 45 seconds. Click on the exercise to see a video description.
|Exercise||Sets & Reps|
|Alternate Leg Raises||45 seconds|
|Mountain Climbers||45 seconds|
|Frog Crunches||45 seconds|
Alternate Leg Raises
In order to achieve sustained weight loss, you need to perform exercises that burn plenty of calories. These at home cardio workouts will do exactly that.
Performing bodyweight exercises in a circuit fashion where you move directly from one to the next without rest is a great way to do it. Here’s a challenging 6 exercise circuit to hit every muscle group while torching calories like crazy. Do each move for 45 seconds, with no rest between exercises. Then rest for 2 minutes before repeating. Working up to completing 3 circuits.
|Exercise||Sets & Reps|
|Mountain Climbers||45 secs|
|Wall Sit||45 secs|
The best home cardio workouts are a combination of sprint training and plyometrics. Here’s a simple 12-minute program that is ideal . . .
Place markers 15 feet apart. Stand in the middle of the two markers. Start by performing 5 tuck jumps, where you jump as high as you can bringing your knees up to your chest and clapping your hands in front of your shins. Do this in ‘hot potato’ fashion with no rest. Then immediately take off sideways to touch one of the markers. Turn and run for the other marker, being sure to touch it also. Then walk back to the middle position. Jog in place for 30 seconds. Then repeat the circuit, starting with 5 tuck jumps. Keep going until 12 minutes are up!
You now have an arsenal of bodyweight workouts to do at home power you through your home-based workout program. Why not rotate through them on a monthly basis. This will allow you to progress from easy at home workouts to more intense training. Use the intensity enhancing techniques we’ve described to keep yourself challenged. You’ll be amazed at how much fitter, stronger and leaner you’ll be in 5 month’s time.