Not everyone has the time to go to gym, neither is everyone inclined to waste bucks on gym membership, when they are going to go for a week anyway. The biggest hurdle in joining the gym is lack of time. Granted, if you workout at home, you might have to spend same amount of time. But, the time that is wasted in commuting to the gym and waiting for some guy to vacate a particular gym machine, so that you can use it, will definitely be saved.
And, unless you are looking to develop a huge physique, the bodyweight exercises can suit you well enough. The bodyweight exercises are challenging enough for a regular bloke and you can use it to build a functional fitness. In fact, with use of some fitness accessories such as resistance bands, you can make bodyweight exercises as challenging as weightlifting and results as good as any bodybuilding regime.
Another benefit of bodyweight exercises is that it is easy on your joints, whereas lifting heavier weights can put serious stress on your joints. And, of course, you can incorporate body weight exercises in your bodybuilding routines. And, here are seven great exercises that have the ability to yield great results.
Pull-ups / chin-ups
Pull ups is one of the best lat exercises out there. And, yes, it can even give the classic lat pulldown exercise run for its money. Its ability to hit your biceps as well is an extra bonus. There is a slight difference between pull ups and chin ups. You are doing chin ups, when you have your hands closer and palms facing you. Whereas, while doing pull ups, the hands are spaced out and palms are facing away from you. You can also do neutral grip pull ups/chin ups by placing your hands facing each other.
For both, you can use lоsе grір, mеdіum grір оr wіdе grір. The ultimate target should be to hit 25 repetitions. But, you need not worry if you can’t even hit the count of five. Most beginners can’t. You will have to build your strength slowly and steadily. And, if you aren’t strong enough, then you can use the partial reps to improve your form and strength. Stand on a bench to climb to the top position, now lower yourself a few inches and get yourself into top position. Everyday increase your range of motion.
Once you have developed the necessary strength, make sure you are using the full range of motion to do the exercise. Yes, the partial reps are good for adapting to the exercise. But, their benefits ends there. The problem with partial reps is that it doesn’t allow the lats to come to a fully lengthened position between reps, due to which the arms are more engaged and do most of the work. Also, you need to ensure that your elbows don’t flare out too much. Not only it makes your lats work harder, it also makes pulling your chest to the bar easier.
This exercise is usually done with a bar. But, I know I have mentioned that you won’t have to go to gym to do this workout. So, those folks, who are reluctant to buy a weight bar, can do this exercise with the help of sticks, straps and rings. The inverted row is an excellent exercise to build thickness and strength in the lower and middle back. Along with your back, it also works biceps, traps, and all the stabilizer muscles in between. The inverted rows can also be used as a stepping stone to the full pull ups.
For a home workout, you can use a sturdy wooden stick or pipe. Place it across two kitchen chairs and lie under it. Now grab the bar with an overhand grip with your hands bit closer than you would place, if you were doing a bench press or just outside your shoulder width, palms facing away from you. Contract your core and ensure your body from head to toes is in a straight line. Now, pull yourself up to the bar until your chest touches the bar and then slowly lower your body.
The form is absolutely necessary. So make sure, your butt is not sagging low and you have your abs contracted nice and tight because only by doing so, you can keep your body in a straight line. And, by keeping your body straight, you can ensure that only arms are moving. And, remember the bar should touch the middle of your chest and when you lower yourself, go all the way down until your arms are fully extended.
No bodyweight exercise list can be complete without the mention of pushups. This classic exercise is perfect for increasing your upper body strength and getting the chiseled athletic look. It works your chest, triceps and front deltoids and at the same time engages your core as well. Also, the lower body muscles are used while doing pushups. They are engaged for stabilizing and giving a support during the movement. And, more the number of muscles used for a particular movement, the more calories are burnt. And, on top of that being a compound exercise, it improves your cardiovascular system as well.
Pushup is a very common exercise, so I won’t go into detail about how to do them. But, there are certain things you need to keep in mind to ensure that you do them with right form. You should always squeeze or contract your core to ensure that you aren’t doing pushups with your hips sticking in air. Also, squeeze your glutes as it would enforce a neutral spine, which is elemental in reducing the risk of back problems, and will improve posture and provide full body tension as well.
However, the problem with pushups is that they quickly become easy to do. After which you can opt to increase repetitions beyond 25, or can add weight to your back to make push ups more challenging. Or, if you are one of the adventurous fellas, then you can opt one of the crazy type of push ups shown in the video below. Though I can’t do it, but my favorite is falling and flying superman push ups. They are pretty cool.
Parallel Bar Dips
Parallel bar dip is a compound and push type exercise that works major muscles of your chest, shoulders, and arms at the same time. Also, it engages your core as well. By altering the position and inclination of your body, you can easily change the major targeted muscles in this exercise. If you do this exercise straight up and down, then you are putting emphasis on your triceps. Whereas, by leaning slightly forward you can work your chest more.
You can do this exercise with set of rings as well. To do this exercise, grasp two parallel bars that are approximately shoulder width apart. Assume the start position for this exercise, by fully extending your arms. At this point the entire weight of your body will be supported by arms. Now, slowly lower yourself until your elbows are bent and your shoulders are mildly stretched. Push with your arms to raise your body to the starting position. If you want to put emphasis on your chest, you can lean slightly forward.
In case, you feel this exercise is extremely easy for you, you can attach weight with the help of weight belt. Or, you can extend your legs forward and place them on a bench. The body would be folded at 90 degree angle at the hips. This will take supporting muscles out of the equation and place weight of your body predominantly on the triceps throughout the exercise.
Pistol squats are brutal, tough, challenging and one of the best lower body exercises. Along with improving your flexibility, balance and coordination, they work almost every lower body muscle. Due to its ability to develop explosive lower body, it is a great exercise for those who love to participate in athletic activities. What makes pistol squats exceptional is that the range of motion while doing the exercise, best mimics common muscle movements performed in sports, which in turn prepare your body more effectively for the rigors of athletic performance, including running, jumping and the sudden turns and twists that are commonly present in many sports.
The simple movement of the exercise requires serious amount of strength, flexibility, and balance, which makes it extremely difficult for the first-timers to do it. It would be better off if you first prepare your body before doing this exercise. And, you can do so by doing the easier single leg squat variation.
Place your back foot on a bench behind you, and squat down on other leg as low as possible, don’t push beyond the comfort level. There is a difference between working hard and pushing your body to injuries. After you have reached as low as possible, return to the starting position. When you can easily do 15-20 repetitions, then it’s time to move on to pistol squats.
You can also make a minor tweak while doing pistol squats to improve your balance. With your arms extended forward, hold a weight at chest level. This will counter the mechanism of the exercise. When you squat and sit down, your body weight pulls you back towards the ground. The weight held in front acts as a counter force, and balances your body.
Barbell Ab Rollout
This is an excellent exercise for your core that works your abs in a unique and effective way. Unlike crunches that solely target your upper and middle abs, the barbell rollout works and engages all the midsection exercises including obliques, inner as well as outer. At the same time, it strengthens your lower back as well.
To do this exercise, select a light barbell. Place it on the floor. Kneel on the ground and grab the barbell with hands spaced at shoulder width. While keeping your arms fully extended in straight and locked position, roll your torso forward, slowly and in a controlled motion. Keep moving the barbell forward, until your torso is parallel to the floor. Be cautious against rolling the barbell too far ahead as it will put a lot of stress on your shoulders and elbows. When you are rolling the barbell back to the starting position, the aim should be to maintain maximum tension on the abdominal muscles.
Use an exercise mat or a padded surface to do the exercise, it would be easy on your knees. Also, you can reduce the distance of the roll, if you feel a strain on your lower back or abdominals. And, if you have persistent lower back problems, then you shouldn’t do this exercise. Do not do this exercise too aggressively or use jerky and fast movements to roll the barbell out. It should always be performed in a slow and controlled movement.
Hanging Leg Raise
No other exercise hits your lower abs as good as hanging leg raises does. It is the best exercise to develop the most difficult section of your six pack. And, it is a very simple exercise. However, it can tend to be bit challenging.
With arms full extended, hang from a pull up bar with medium or wide grip. Remember that your body should be straight. Now, squeeze your abs and raise your legs until they make a 90 degree angle with your torso. Hold the pose for a second and then return to the starting position.
If you find this hard to do, you can bend your legs and aim to raise your knees. And, if you find the regular leg raises easy to do, then try to raise your legs beyond the 90 degree angle and if possible, touch your toes to the bar. Perform this exercise in slow and controlled way, and refrain from using momentum.