Bodyweight is Great, But Is Yours Getting Boring?
by Jackie Burgmann, creator of "Hot at Home" - The Transformation Solution for People Who Hate The Gym
Bodyweight training is a great way to get in shape and stay in shape.
It's particularly fantastic when you don't have access to conventional weight training equipment like free weights or resistance machines and cables you can find in the gym.
Unfortunately, bodyweight training can be a bit more limited because you only have your body and gravity at your disposal to create resistance. This can cause your workout to get dull quickly if you don't know how to mix it up a little bit.
Let's face it, doing the same old moves over and over again with no variety can get pretty boring.
So, let's mix it up!
Let's take some of the most popular bodyweight moves and tweak them so they're new, exciting, and most important of all: challenging again.
Squats are a great compound move that burns fat fast and work your legs hard but wow, can they get stale in a hurry.
Luckily, there's lots of ways to change up a squat.
Try doing one legged squats. You'll immediately double the amount of weight you're lifting by only squatting
with one leg at a time. Hang on to a pole or wall or doorknob for support if you have balance issues.
How about split squats? These are similar to a lunge, where you stand with your feet apart, one foot in front with toes forward and the other foot in back with toes again forward. Instead of moving back and forth to a standing position with both feet together as you would with a lunge, you simply move your back knee towards the ground and back up again, never moving your feet from their positions. Do all your reps for one side before moving to the opposite position, lowering the other knee towards the ground.
Then there's Bulgarian squats, where one leg is elevated on a bench behind you and remains there while you squat with just the leg still on the ground.
Don't forget about sumo squats, which are also known as plie pquats. These are basically a wide stance squat with toes pointing out rather than straight forward.
Or, jazz up a regular bodyweight squat by doing a timed set to see how many squats you can do in a limited time period. I like to do a 5 minute Power Squat Blast. My record for proper form bodyweight squats in 5 minutes in 235. That's not easy to do, but it's a great workout.
And of course, if you have them you can hold dumbbells, a kettlebell or a barbell while doing any of these squatting exercises to increase the resistance which also increases the difficulty and intensity.
See? All it takes is a little imagination and you'll find lots of ways to change up an ordinary bodyweight squat.
Now, about those Push-ups.
There are also a huge variety of ways to change a push-up to make the challenge more interesting for your body.
Try doing your push-ups with your hands at different widths. Try putting your hands on the ground wider apart
than your shoulders, directly under your shoulders, or even as close together as touching each other on the
ground directly under your chest. The closer together you put your hands to each other, the more you'll work
your triceps; the further apart they are, the more you work your chest muscles.
Try doing some offset push-ups. Here you stagger where your hands are on the ground. Put one hand beside your ribcage and one in the regular spot beside your shoulder, then switch hand positions for another set.
Spiderman push-ups, where you bring one knee up to meet your elbow as your lower your body (and alternate sides with each push-up) are also a fun way to change things up and increase the challenge.
And finally, don't forget if the regular push-up is getting too easy for you, you can always elevate your feet on a small ledge, step, bench or chair. Or, if you're really strong, try putting your feet up the wall. The higher up you get your feet, the harder the push-up will be.
Love doing your Pull-ups, but not seeing much way to change a pull-up?
One of the easiest ways to make a pull-up different is to merely change your grip. Having your palms facing away from you constitutes regular pull-ups. Having your palms facing towards you is what is known as a chin-up.
Another way to change up your grip is to widen it. The wider your grip, the harder it will be. Another plus about widening your grip is that the further your hands are apart, the harder you're going to hit your back muscles and develop that "V" look (which also helps your waist look tighter).
Don't forget to strive for your full 'range of motion' (make sure your arms come to the 'straight' position at the bottom and your chin gets above the bar at the top).
If you're really advanced, try out some "Muscle-ups" where, instead of stopping when your chin clears the bar, you bring your body all the way up until your hips are level with the bar.
Not quite able to do pull-ups yet? Try 'kipping' pull-ups. This is where you swing your legs and add a little
kick in your body movement to help drive you up to the bar. These are a great way to get started if you haven't
yet built the strength it takes to do pull-ups from a full, straight-arm hang position.
And if pull-ups are STILL a challenge to you, try working the negative instead of the positive. This means you jump up to get yourself up to the bar instead of pulling yourself up (or use a stool or chair to step up to the bar).
Then, once you're at the top position you remove the chair (bend your knees to avoid it, or kick it away if you have to) and lower yourself to the bottom position very slowly (and very methodically, staying in complete control). This will help you work on your form and build up your strength and technique until you can do proper pull-ups.
There's no reason for your next bodyweight workout to feel stale.
There are lots of great ideas here to make your bodyweight training sessions fresh and new (and feeling challenging) again. Add some of these variations into your routine and you'll be re-energized.
Have a great workout!
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