Bodyweight exercises are a great addition to your strength training regimen. If you can’t make it to the gym, you can work out anywhere by using progressive bodyweight training. The great thing about bodyweight training is how you can vary the intensity of classic exercises like pushups and squats by manipulating the leverage of your body in order to make them more (or less) challenging. For example, a one-legged squat is more difficult than a traditional squat because you are removing a point of contact, thus doubling the amount of weight on the squatting leg. One legged squats also add an element of instability.
On the other hand, if you are unable to do a full one legged squat, you can adapt the exercise by holding onto a doorframe, partner or other sturdy object for support.
Besides the convenience of being able to workout anywhere, bodyweight training is a great way to train your entire body without having to worry about isolating any muscles. Squats are predominantly a lower body exercise, but your abs and lower back are targeted by stabilizing your spine at the bottom position. Pushups are mostly an upper body exercise, but require the use of your abdominals to support your back as well as your quads and glutes in order to keep your knees and legs straight.
It’s also helpful to practice isometric exercises in order to train your nervous system to contract all the muscles in your body from a static position. Practicing exercises like the LSit, wrestler’s bridge, and wall handstand will not only improve your physical gains but challenge your mental fortitude as well. This type of training will teach you how to recruit all the muscles of your body during any exercise.
The Bodyweight Workout: 3 rounds
Pistol Squat: 5 reps R/L
Stand on one leg with the other held straight in front of your body. Reach your arms forward and clasp your palms as you begin squatting from your standing leg. Lower all the way until the back of your thigh is pressed against your lower leg. Pause and return to standing by engaging your abdominals and pushing off your foot. You can also do this move holding a partner’s hand or a stable object to assist in balance. Remember to alternate legs.
Archer Pushup: 5 reps R/L
Begin in a plank position with your hands on the ground several inches wider than your shoulders and your fingers turned outward. Bend one elbow, allowing your body to slide to that side as your opposing arm extends. Look towards the opposite hand at the bottom, then press yourself back up to center and repeat on the opposite side. To make the move slightly less difficult, you can practice with your feet in a wider stance to maximize your contact points or with your knees down on the ground for more support.
Wall Handstand Hold: 30 seconds
Start by facing a wall then put your hands flat on the ground a few inches away from the wall. Kick one leg towards the wall in order to position your legs against it for support. Make sure to keep your elbows locked by actively pressing into the ground. Allow your head to relax between your arms. Tense your abs, glutes, and quads to stay in position. Lower one leg at a time to the ground to release the position.
L-Sit Hold: 20 seconds
Sit upright on the ground with both legs extended in front of you. Place your hands flat on the ground around midthigh with your elbows fully locked. Press into your hands to extend your triceps and engage your abdominals to lift your feet off the ground. If you are having trouble lifting your legs, you can bend your knees slightly in order to shorten the length of your body, thus making the move more manageable. It can also help to practice this move on an elevated surface like a box or bench to allow more clearance for your legs.
Straight Bridge Hold: 20 seconds
Begin seated on the ground with your legs extended in front of you. Place your hands on the ground behind you with your palms flat on the ground and fingers facing toward you. Squeeze your glutes and shift your weight onto your hands as you lift your body off the ground. Allow your shoulder blades to squeeze together to push your chest forward and contract your quads to keep your knees locked. It can also help to point your toes to generate extra tension to keep your body in a straight line from your heels to your head. Let your head relax back and breathe as you hold.