Body weight exercises are often overlooked. The internet and about ten thousand lose weight books preach gyms for everything. Gyms are great and I prefer training with weights, but my programs and training focuses on finding more time to exercise. Body weight exercise routines fit into my programs perfectly. You can do them almost anywhere and, in most cases, there’s no need to travel to a gym or leave your hotel room.
You can add weight to your exercises if you happen to carry a few dumbbells around in your trunk or have a one gallon milk jug filled with water handy. But weight is no required to get your heart rate up, stoke the fat burning fire inside you and add some definition to your muscles. The only thing I would note is body weight exercises will not help add muscle. Your muscles will grow, but not at the same speed you would expect from a weight training program.
The key to body weight exercises if planning routines you can use anytime and understanding form. Form is critical to any exercise. Without proper form you risk injuring yourself and wasting your time. Before you begin any exercise routine, learn how to do each exercise you plan to add to the routine and check with your doctor. Your health is our primary concern and certain injuries and medical conditions require special exercise routines and, possibly, a doctor’s supervision. Always take the safe road and never take chances with your body or health.
I recommend planning your routine to fit a circuit. Simply put, you will do each exercise with no rest in between if possible; rest for 60 seconds and go again. Listen to your body and know when it has had enough. If you are a beginner, bump the 60 second rest period to 1.5 minutes, but try to keep rest periods under 1.5 minutes. Resting for longer gives your heart time to slow down and lactic acid time to convince your muscles they are done.
A Basic Body Weight Routine
A basic routine will hit most large muscle groups. Begin with these old favorites:
- 8 to 12 pushups
- 15 to 25 squats
- One 15 to 30 second plank
- 15 to 25 lunges
- 25 to 40 jumping jacks
- 60 seconds of standing rest
If you are trying to lose weight, a morning workout is better. Your body has been fasting all night and will be hungry for energy once you start working out. It will look to fat stores to help provide the energy you need to finish 2 or 3 of these circuits.
If you are doing this routine at home and have access to dumbbells or a gallon milk jug filled with water, add 10 to 15 dumbbell rows to the routine before the jumping jacks.
This body weight circuit is only for days when you can’t make it to the gym or if your personal trainer recommends a body weight circuit between session days. You can work your muscles too often. Also, since the routine won’t change, your body will adapt to the routine and results will decrease. In order to lose weight and tone your body, you have to keep your muscles confused by changing up what you do to them. Hit the gym when you can, but use body weight when you can’t.