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Fitness on a Budget: Working out Equipment Free

“If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

– Bill Bowerman, American coach & Co-founder of Nike

No matter what our lifestyle we all have but one body to live in. Contemporary job profiles require mental ability skills and are typically sedentary. Before we know it, our body regresses to poor posture, stiff joints and muscles and lousy physical co-ordination. A sharp mind requires consistent support of a well conditioned body else we fall prey to a brigade of stress related ailments.

Good Health is not exclusive to those who have time and money to spare. If you are determined to start making amends, we offer you enough information in this article to get started.

There are 3 pillars of a sound exercise program:

  1. Good Nutrition
  2. Cardiovascular Training
  3. Resistance Training or Weight Training

Here is what happens when you go for one WITHOUT the other:

  • Only Good Nutrition: Consuming food that is closest to its natural state is good nutrition. It reflects a daily diet rich in lentils, fruits and vegetables WITHOUT added white sugar, high sodium and salt content and trans-fats. Avoid anything that has the word “hydrogenated vegetable oil” written on it.

Clean eating will help you lose weight slowly but surely. However, it will not condition you with a fast metabolism or a toned body.

  • Only Cardiovascular Training: Getting your heart rate up and burning calories is crucial for weight loss. But most people, particularly young girls and older people exclusively restrict themselves to long, slow steady state cardio like walking and cycling. As you burn fat, you will also burn muscle along with it. Cumulative long term muscle loss would lead to a sluggish metabolism. The kilos that took you days to melt may come back easily. Also, you will not be able to get away with an occasional binge that most of us indulge in during festivals or family celebrations.
  • Only Resistance Training: Weight training boosts metabolism and provides much needed muscle tone that helps our body look tighter and more together even at a high body weight. It conditions us to engage in injury free, high-intensity cardio facilitating higher calorie burn in shorter durations.

Without sound nutrition and some cardio, fat loss would be slow if any. Also, limiting oneself to weight training will constrict stamina and flexibility as is visible by the body language of several young men who have been involved in years of heavy weight training, but not seen a day’s worth of cardio.


Getting Started:

For weight loss, do extended steady state cardio at least 4-5 days a week.

Try jogging – 30-40 minutes (If new to running, you may in between scale back to brisk walk for recovery)


For those who are overweight beyond 10 kilos, they need to walk 10,000 steps a day to promote weight loss by walking alone. The good news is those 10,000 steps include the first steps you take after getting out of bed in the morning to the last few that you take right back into bed at night.

For a more concrete estimate, 10,000 steps = 8 kilometers / 2 hours of total walking every 24 hours.


Warming Up:

A good warm up before an intense workout includes dynamic body movements which enable optimum mobility during the workout.

Doing static stretches, when the body is still cold and stiff can be counterproductive and potentially cause an injury during the workout.

Following is an excellent video of a 6 minute full body dynamic warm up.

Workaholics, who sit on a desk for the major part of the day, can do this routine standalone to relieve themselves of physical stiffness.


Equipment Free Fat Scorching Workout:

A high intensity interval circuit has a major after burn impact. You will be burning fat for up to 24-48 hours even as you sit and do nothing.

Short bursts of explosive cardio done in 15 minutes will burn lot more calories than half an hour of steady state jogging.

If you are suffering from no serious medical ailments or injuries, giving your body a major jolt for short durations at least a couple of times every week in the form of HIIT intervals (High Intensity Interval Training) will improve the coordination of all your internal organs, prompt more balanced hormones and improve muscle definition.

The following WORKOUT comprises of a dual circuit done ALTERNATELY. Start with the cardio drill and once you have completed one round, follow it up with the bodyweight resistance circuit to catch your breath.

Warning: Your lungs, shoulders and legs will BURN!!!
But that is a good sign!!
The longer you can continue with each move once your muscles start burning up; more fat you burn and the stronger you get. Every second counts!!

(In case you feel any strain on your wrists while in push-up position, shake your hands out and do some wrist rotations in between sets).

This workout should be repeated 2-3 times every week. As you get stronger, try and increase the number of repetitions done in a single go.


Cardio Drill: Do 3-5 rounds

Beginner: Do 20 seconds of as many repetitions as you can/10 seconds rest.

Intermediate: Do 40 seconds of as many repetitions as you can/ 10-20 seconds rest.

Advanced: Do 50 seconds of as many repetitions as you can/ 10-20 seconds rest.

Caution: Keep knees soft and slightly bent for all standing movements.

1. Jumping Jacks: Propel your feet to your sides and back making sure your feet completely touch the ground upon landing. Keep knees slightly bent.

Jumping Jacks


2. Skater Hops: Jump from side to side, landing softly on your knees. The further you jump, more explosive the movement.

Skater Hops


3. High Knees: Jog on the spot, engage your lower abs and alternately lift each knee as high as you can.

High Knees


4. Half Burpees: Get down into pushup position and jump back and forth with your feet.

Half Burpees


Bodyweight Circuit:

Avoid fast, jerky movements. Suck your stomach in slightly, engage your abs and execute deliberate and controlled movements. Do 3 -4 rounds, 10-25 repetitions of each exercise according to physical ability. For Squat and side kick, Reverse lunge and Front kick and Mountain climbers; aim for at least 10 repetitions with EACH leg.

1. Squat and Side Kick:

Caution: Your knees should not cross your toes as you descend into full squat position. Your side kick need only be as comfortably high as your current sense of balance allows.

Squat and side kick


2. Push up:

Caution: Do not let your head drop. Suck your belly in and do not let your elbows stick out to your sides. Elbows should be closer to your body at a 45 degree angle.

For those who find the standard push up too hard, they may work their way up starting with an incline push up; the easiest version being simply pushing against a wall.


The following image displays push-ups in decreasing order of difficulty.

Push-up variations


3. Plank:

Plank is the best compound movement to strengthen your core as it engages your abs, hips and lower back all together. Aim to hold your plank for at least 20 seconds at a time. Work up to a time of 2 minutes.

Caution: Do not let your hips or head drop.

Plank Exercise


4. Reverse Lunge with front kick:

Caution: Your knees should not cross your feet every time you lower yourself into a lunge.

(One may place a hand lightly against a wall for balance while doing this move).

Reverse Lunge with front kick


5. Mountain Climbers:

Walk one foot towards your chest, go back and switch legs. When done slowly, this move really works your lower abs.

Mountain Climbers


6. Burpees:

Go from standing position into plank and immediately get back up into standing position with a jump. This is a killer full body metabolic boost. Aim for at least 6 repetitions or slow down your speed if you find yourself completely spent!



Post Workout Stretching:

Right after an intense workout is when static stretches truly work their magic! They aid faster muscle recovery, improve balance and coordination and most importantly ensure efficient blood circulation that further leads to increased levels of energy.

Ending each workout with proper stretching will help you model an injury resistant body that can not only withstand the rigors of intense power moves but also prevent damage from accidental twists or jerks.

Flexibility generally makes you feel good. Getting limber does not necessarily require you to contort yourself in fancy yoga poses.

Following video has a series of 10 stretches in a simple 5 minute stretching routine that can be done anywhere while simply standing up.

Deskbound workaholics and habitual couch potatoes have tight hip flexors and hence require deeper stretching of their legs. The stretching routine provided by Jillian Michaels in the following video will prove particularly useful for runners or those who are getting started with exercise for the first time or after a long gap.



Final Words of Encouragement:

For those who have never attempted any of the exercises mentioned above in the cardio and bodyweight circuit; they will do well to practice the moves stand alone at first. Try and get a good familiar feel of the motions involved in all the exercises.

After committing to this one workout done 2-3 times a week over duration of total 6-8 weeks with a clean (junk food free) diet, you can expect:

  • A tighter bum and toned legs
  • Leaner face with a chiseled jaw line
  • Firmer midsection
  • Improved physical symmetry
  • Increased agility and stamina
  • Greater mental resilience! HIIT workouts are not for those who give up easily!

(And IF you are the kind of person who gives up easily, start doing HIIT workouts. It exercises your willpower as well!!)

This is the kind of self inflicted torture from where you will emerge faster, stronger and more energetic!


If there is an aerobics class that you hesitate to go back to because you can’t catch up with others and huff and puff through it.


A dance class where you can’t seem to get your moves right because your physical co-ordination is so messed up.


If you are feeling too shy to join the local gym because you took a long break and got out of shape.


If you simply want to lose fat without losing muscle; this workout done over a period of 2 months will prepare your body to take harder physical challenges successfully.

So go on. What are you waiting for? Get started and start living a fuller life!!

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