Maybe you're sick of going to the hot, crowded, noisy gym with all the Ellipticals taken up by Ipod-clad cardio junkies or all the benches used up by a bunch of muscleheads. Maybe you're very busy and local gym's hours don't always fit your schedule anymore. Maybe you're sick of paying $10-12 at a gym for a one-day guest pass or even a costly long-term membership with a massive joiner's fee and a binding contract with plenty of fine print. And if you are traveling, maybe you'll be without a gym for awhile.
What do you do in these situations?. Let your hard work and progress go down the drain? Lie in bed eating Doritos watching reruns of Sports Center instead? I don't think so. You'll have no excuse to skip a workout after reading this article because there are plenty of exercises that can be performed no matter where you are. No, you don't need the latest $3,000 Bowflex. In fact, you don't need any equipment at all. The only thing you need is your own body and some initiative. Anybody who has ever taken an exercise class or conditioned for a sport knows that you can get quite an intense workout without any equipment needed.
In this article we'll focus on a few of the major exercises that can build or at least maintain muscle, keep you in shape, and rev that metabolism in the absence of going to the gym. These scientifically proven exercises include various forms of pushups, squats, lunges, and of course core exercises. Although not always as effective as hitting up the gym, you'd be surprised how much can be accomplished with this simple, free, and convenient workout method.
One of the best upper body exercises you can do is a simple pushup. It hits the chest, triceps, shoulders, and various other stabilizer muscles when performed correctly. While resistance can't be altered like a chest press, there are several ways to make the exercise more difficult. Mix it up and do some sets with a wide stance (hands wider than shoulder width apart), some with a narrow stance (hands closer than shoulder width apart), diamond pushups if you are very advanced (hands together in the middle forming a triangle), or even pushups off your knuckles. For more explosive training there is always the clap pushup. If you cannot do a regular pushup with good form, then a pushup off the knees will work just fine with any of the previously mentioned hand positions. If you happen to have a chair or low table in the room you can do pushups with your feet on the elevated surface for increased difficulty as well. Reverse pushups can also be done with your hands off of any elevated surface to really work the triceps.
The king of all exercises for resistance training is the squat and just because you don't have barbells, dumbbells, or a Smith Machine doesn't mean you can't reap its benefits. Bodyweight squats can still be very effective for working the major muscles of the upper legs and hips. It may take higher repetitions to fatigue you than with weighted squats but it will definitely exhaust you in the end. To stress some of the inner thigh muscles you can do wide squats (aka Sumo Squats) with your feet wider than normal and pointed outwards at about 45 degrees. If you can't do a normal squat you can start by working on sliding wall squats with your back against the wall for support. Lower down to whatever angle is comfortable on your knees (as low as thighs parallel to the floor) and then slide back up again. To improve the bottom of your squats, wall sits can be done with a 90-degree bend in your knees and held for as long as you are able each set.
Along with squats come bodyweight lunges. Another excellent way to work the legs, lunges can be done in multiple ways to keep things challenging. Lateral lunges can be performed, as can lunges done forward and off to a 45 degree angle, keeping both feet facing forwards. If you have an elevated surface you can even have your rear foot elevated during regular lunges to really step up the intensity. Throw in some hip bridges, a few other hip exercises, and various calf raises and you've got a pretty solid leg workout. A good leg workout also equates to a lot of calories burned because they are some of the largest muscles in our bodies.
Core exercises are also a staple in any exercise regimen to strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine and can tone up the midsection as well. A myriad of core exercises exist but I would at least include some form of situps, crunches, reverse crunches, planks, supermans, quadripeds, and side bridges in your regimen. There are dozens of variations and alternative names to these exercises so unfortunately they can't all be described in this article. The remainder of the workout can include dozens of other effective exercises such as jumping jacks, butt kicks, high knees, footwork drills, and of course adequate stretching. If the weather isn't too cold out, you could even go for a run! No gym or equipment is necessary yet the possibilities are nearly endless.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't go to the gym or avoid purchasing any home exercise equipment because both are often very beneficial. I am simply demonstrating an effective alternative in a situation where both are inconvenient or unavailable. In these days of busy schedules, rising gym costs, and pricey home exercise equipment, sometimes it pays to keep it simple. Much can be accomplished with hard work and sticking to the basics.