As a college student, traveling business professional or someone simply living a busy life, getting to the gym can sometimes seem like an overwhelming commitment. Luckily, if you apply the right strategy, a living room or a backyard may be all you need to accomplish your fitness goals. The following list of bodyweight exercises do not require going to the gym or exercise equipment. They’re all free, simple and can be done anywhere at anytime.
1. Plank – While they may have lost some of their pop-culture appeal since the days of viral planking videos, this is a versatile exercise that can be done anywhere and fits nicely with every type of workout. Targeting the deep core muscles, this exercise is great for anyone looking to strengthen their midsection. The added strength in your core will also reduce lower back pain and stress on your spine by adding more stability and poise to your natural posture. In addition to these benefits the increased core strength, planking will increase your flexibility and balance.
2. Push Up – Arguably one of the best body weight exercises, push ups have many of the core-strengthening benefits of a plank but add significant upper body appeal and muscle endurance, targeting the chest, shoulders and triceps. Some fitness experts claim that if you were to choose only one exercise to do for the rest of your life that this is the one to go with.
3. Mountain Climber – The value in doing mountain climbers lies in the exercise’s ability to work almost every muscle group from head to toe while adding a cardio element. Mimicking a running motion, mountain climbers build cardiovascular health, while also stressing the shoulders, triceps, core and legs. This versatile exercise can be incorporated into any workout—even as a warmup. Additionally, mountain climbers can be done on their own in high volume as a cardio specific workout or as a “blowout technique” at the end of any weight training.
4. Burpee – This classic full-body, functional and powerful exercise is one of the best tools you can put in your traveling workout toolkit. Taking your body all the way down to the floor and exploding with a high jump, this movement is all about power, strength and intensity. A great way to work this into a traveling workout is to put on a timer and do 10 burpees at the start of every minute. You can also try 30 seconds of burpees followed by 30 seconds of rest. Continue this routine for 5-10 minutes to end your bodyweight workout with a bang. The burpee engages all major muscle groups, challenges your lungs, heart and strength. The burpee can be done anywhere, and can be mixed up to keep your traveling workouts fresh and fun.
5. Single Leg Deadlift – Looking to build strength and endurance in your muscles below the waist? This exercise is for you. The single leg deadlift works the entire body but has the most significant impact on the legs and hips. While the motion offers the most muscle resistance on the lower body, but also works to strengthen ancillary muscles that can noticeably increase one’s balance.
6. Squat/Squat-Jump– These two motions work the same muscle groups but improve them in different ways. The squat jump is a more intense and cardio-centric alternative to the regular squat which works the legs through slower and more controlled reps. Squat jumps aid in build explosion and burn calories, while normal squats are more useful for building muscle endurance (weight training is necessary to build muscle mass). Additionally, the exertion and joint fatigue related to jump squats may be too much for some individuals. In these cases a regular squat is a great alternative. Regardless of which version you choose you can do either of these exercises and build significant lower body strength anywhere with enough space to stand.
7. Jogging– In the end, the ultimate body weight exercise will probably always be jogging. The instant cardio health benefits coupled with its unrivaled ability to burn calories make it a mainstay in almost every healthy persons workout routine. Building your cardiovascular strength and stamina can help across the board allowing you to have better, longer and more effective trips to the gym.