Body Weight Workouts

With busy work schedules, family commitments and an endless list of to-dos, getting to the gym can be like mission impossible some days. Not to mention the cost of a gym membership on top of your household bills – especially if you rarely have time to use it! The good news is that you don’t need a gym to get a really great workou­­t. Using your own body weight in just the right way can work as effectively.

Functional body weight training involves no travel time and no additional expense. It can be done anywhere, at anytime and requires virtually no equipment. The only equipment you will need is a willing mind and an able body!

There are loads of body weight workouts that you can do and I’ve put together a list of my favourites. Once you see what’s in store, you’ll quickly understand that you don’t need anymore than the use of your own body as leverage and resistance. These moves will work you from head to toe and save you time and money.

Push ups: This is a fantastic upper body, weight bearing exercise. It strengthens your arms, shoulders, chest and core. To do a push you place your hands on a flat surface outside the width of your body. Your shoulders must be positioned over the top of your hands. You can be resting on your knees or have your legs straight out behind you and be balanced on your feet (toes).  To complete a push up, you bend through the elbows and lower your chest down towards the ground, while keeping your body stiff and straight. Check your position to see if your chest is in line with your hands. Then begin to push yourself up and out of the position by straightening your arms. This completes the push up. Do as many repetitions as you can.

You can do many variations on a standard push up (as described above). You can do incline or decline push ups to adjust the intensity. You can even do explosive push ups, by powering up out the push up and making your hands jump off the ground. Try to clap your hands between each push up for a real challenge.

Plank (also known as a hover): This isometric exercise is excellent for strengthening your core. To do a plank, kneel on the floor and rest your elbows and forearms on the ground.  You need your shoulders stacked directly over the top of your elbows. You can remain on your knees or press your toes into the floor, straightening the legs out behind. Your body must remain straight, and as the name suggests look long and straight like a plank of wood. Please check your position to make sure that you bottom is not high in the air, or too low to the ground and consequently making your back sway.

Squats: This versatile exercise can be done by pretty much anyone, regardless of fitness level. You can squat against a wall and hold still making it an isometric exercise or do free standing squats. You can increase the intensity by holding a squat at the furthermost point and then pulse just slightly up and down without  fully coming out of the squat. You can make them high impact by exploding out of the squat and turning it into a jump squat. Whichever style you choose, it’s important to get the technique right. Incorrect technique can put undue pressure through your knees.

Stand with your feet about hip width apart, bend through the knees and begin to draw your bottom closer to the ground. Check that your knees don’t go past your toe line and that your bottom is sticking far out behind you. To come out of the squat simply reverse these actions and repeat.

Tuck jumps: This exercise will get the heart racing. Simply stand up right with the feet hip width apart, load power through your legs by bending at the knees and explode upward, jumping and tucking your knees into your chest as closely as possible. Be sure to land with knees bent to absorb the shock through your body. Repeat as many times as you can.

Burpees: These are one of the most loathed exercises, however they are also one of the most effective body weight exercises. This is why trainers everywhere love to prescribe them. They are a great form of cardio as well as using muscles from upper body, core and lower body.

To do a burpee you place your hands on the ground in front of your feet and jump your feet straight out behind (putting you in the starting position of a push up). Then lower your chest down towards the ground and push yourself up again. You then quickly jump your feet back in to the starting position, and explode upwards, leaping your way back up to a standing position. That makes for one complete burpee. Now repeat.

Try a combination of all the above exercises for as many repetitions as you can manage, and you’ll be on your way to improved fitness in no time!