Bodyweight exercises offer the ultimate in exercise convenience as they can be performed just about anywhere. Although they are technically simple, bodyweight exercises are very effective. Full body workouts without weights are generally compound in nature. This means that movement occurs at multiple muscle groups and joints at the same time and closely replicates how your body works when performing day to day tasks. These exercises target all your major muscle groups.
Squats work virtually every muscle in your lower body with a particular emphasis on your thighs and butt. To perform this exercise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands by your sides. Push your hips backward, bend your knees and squat down until your thighs are approximately parallel to the floor. Push down through your heels and stand back up again. Perform two to four sets of 15 to 30 repetitions interspersed with brief rests before moving on to the next exercise. You can make this exercise more demanding by holding weights in your hands such as heavy books.
Pushups target your chest, shoulders and the back of your arms -- they are an effective upper body exercise popular with elite athletes and home exercisers alike. Bend down and place your hands on the floor. Walk your feet backward until your legs and hips are extended and your heels, hips and head form a straight line. Bend your arms and lower your chest to within an inch of the floor. Push away from the floor and drive back up into the starting position. Make pushups easier by bending your legs and placing your knees on the floor. Perform two to four sets of eight to 20 repetitions of this exercise.
Body rows are the diametric opposite of pushups, and work your biceps and upper back. These muscles are important for posture and spine health. Set a sturdy bar to hip height. For example, place a strong broomstick between two chair-backs. Lie beneath the bar and grasp it with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Lift your hips off the ground so that your weight is supported on your heels and hands only. Bend your arms and pull your chest up to touch the bar. Slowly lower yourself back to full arm extension but do not drop your hips. Perform two to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions. Bending your legs and placing your feet flat on the floor makes this exercise easier to perform.
This exercise pairing works all of your midsection muscles. The plank combo is an isometric exercise that does not involve any movement, despite a lot of tension being generated by your core muscles. Lie on your side and rest on your lowermost elbow. Keep your legs straight and lift your hips off the floor so that your weight is supported on the sides of your feet and your arm only. Hold this position for 20 to 45 seconds. Roll over onto your front and rest on both elbows. Lift your hips so that your body is straight and your weight is supported on your toes and elbows only. Hold this position for 20 to 45 seconds. Finally, roll over and perform the side plank on the opposite side – hold for 20 to 45 seconds. Rest for a moment and then repeat the side/front/side plank sequence for one more set.
- "Never Gymless : An Excuse-free System for Total Fitness"; Ross Enamait; 2006
- "Training for Warriors: The Ultimate Mixed Martial Arts Workout"; Martin Rooney; 2008
- "You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises"; Mark Lauren and Joshua Clark; 2011