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With warmer weather starting to roll in, most people are looking for an exercise routine to help them get into shape. For some of us, this past year has changed the way we get our sweat on. Dramatically. Some have built home gyms, others have taken up new sports and some have had to make the most with what they have. In today’s blog post, we are going to be sharing body weight exercises that you can do anywhere, anytime without any equipment. Talk about a universal workout! All you need is your running shoes, timer and some music to help you get in the mood. Ready? Let’s go!
Exercise #1: Air squats
A must-have staple in your workout, the air squat. Not only does this exercise train a vast number of lower body muscles including your quadriceps and glutes, but it is wildly important for ensuring that you can get up and off of the toilet for the rest of your life. Sounds graphic, but it's true. The body weight air squat should be a foundational exercise in every workout that you perform. Start with your feet just past hip width apart, point your toes at the hours 11 and 1 as if you were standing on a clock. Then lower yourself down while pressing your hips back and knees out until you reach the bottom of the squat. At the bottom, start to exhale as you press through your heels and squeeze your quads to stand back up. To make this more challenging, feel free to add a kettlebell or dumbbell. If you need to scale the exercise, start by placing a chair behind you to sit on at the bottom of your squat. Overtime, try to tap it instead of sitting on it to build up strength overtime.
Exercise #2: Push Ups
Start in a high plank position on your toes with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, bracing your core and squeezing your glutes. Start to bend your elbows lowering in one long plank to the floor. As you exhale, press down through your hands, exhale and straighten your arms until to reach the top of the push up position. This exercise can be extremely difficult for beginners, instead, start with doing push ups from your knees or against the wall. For the elevated version, begin by standing about 1 foot away from the wall. Plant your hands shoulder width apart on the wall just below eye level. Slowly bend your elbows keeping them tucked closely to your sides, lower your chest to the wall and then exhale and extend your elbows.
Exercise #3: Sit Ups
Start by sitting on the floor with a mat or cushion under your back for support. Bend your knees and plant your feet firmly on the ground about hip width apart. With control, lower yourself down to the ground until your back finds the mat. Exhale and sit back up keeping a neutral spine as. You can keep your arms across your chest or use them to help swing you back up if you are a beginner. The swing will help to generate momentum making it easier to sit back up!
Exercise #4: Cross body Mountain Climbers
Start in a high plank position with your shoulder stacked over, your wrists, brace your core and squeeze your glutes. From this position, bend your right knee and bring it to touch your left elbow. Exhale and step the foot back. Repeat on the other side with the left leg. This exercise can be modified and performed on your back as well by interlacing your hands behind your head and touching the opposite elbow and knee to mimic the same movement.
Exercise #5: Running / Sprints
No space? No problem! This next exercise is ideally performed outside either on a flat surface or on a hill. The goal is to get your heart pumping and to build your endurance. Start by setting a timer for 20 seconds. Sprint for the length of time either up the hill or back and forth in the space that you have. If you’re limited to space, this could also look like high knees where you remain in one place while driving your knees up towards your chest to mimic the stride of a runner. Once the timer has expired, rest. Focus on working hard for those 20 seconds and recovering for the remaining time. Repeat this exercise for 5-10 minutes and watch your heart rate and metabolism skyrocket!
Exercise #6: Lunges
Start by standing on a mat with your feet hip width apart. Step your right foot behind you about 2 feet and bend both knees.Your legs should look like the letter “L” and the figure “7” on two traintracks running side by side. Make sure that your front knee is stacked over your ankle and that your shoulders are stacked over your hips. As you exhale, press into your back foot, squeeze your quads and come all the way up to standing. Repeat and alternate between legs. This exercise can also be performed stepping forward to out to the side - make sure that your knees are always stacked over your ankles!
Exercise #7: Step Ups
Find yourself a stair, a chair or a park bench to step onto! Start by standing about half a foot away from the object with your feet placed hip width apart. Place your right foot onto the box/chair/bench, press into your heel, squeeze your right glute and come all the way up to standing on the top of the object. Reverse the motion by stepping the leg behind you, landing with control as you slowly lower yourself down. Repeat with the opposite leg.
Exercise #8: Tricep Dips
Stay with your box/bench/chair, but this time sit on the floor about half a foot away with your back turned towards it. Bend your elbows and place your hands on the edge of the object. Straighten your legs (or keep them bent for a modified version!), keep your elbows tucked into your sides as you extend your arms. Slowly lower yourself back down with control keeping the arms as close to you as possible until your bottom finds the ground again.
Exercise #9: Superman extensions
Ready, set, fly! You might not get off the ground, but this exercise will at least challenge your wing spreading abilities! Start by lying on your stomach with your arms and legs stretched out. Lift your arms, chest and legs off the ground by squeezing your shoulder blades and glutes together. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds, rest for an equal amount of time and repeat.
Exercise #10: Commandos
Stay down on the ground, but this time start in a high plank position. One arm at a time, bend the arm and place your forearm on the ground. With both forearms on the ground, one arm at a time, straighten your arms ensuring that your shoulder is stacked over your wrist when you finish in the high plank position. Keep your core braced and your legs muscles squeezed as you repeat this exercise.
There you have it! Ten bodyweight exercises that you can do anywhere, anytime and without anything! Besides the stair/box/bench, you are ready to rock! When it comes to programming your workout, there are a few options. The first way is to go through a fixed number of sets and repetitions of each exercise. An example would be performing 15 air squats, resting for 30 seconds and then repeating this exercise for 4 more sets. The other option is to do them for time. This could look like setting a timer for 30 seconds, performing as many air squats in that time period and resting for the other 30 seconds. You are the one in control of your workouts, which exercises you perform and for how long. Get creative, have fun and most importantly, challenge yourself!
Lindsay Mustard is a Holistic Nutritionist, firefighter-in-training and recipe-wizard with a burning passion for health and fitness. In her nutrition practice, Lindsay works with clients to craft a unique plan that is tailored to their specific health goals using a natural, whole food and supplement approach.