11 Total Body Exercises That Don’t Require Equipment
Working out in a gym can be fun and allows you to work specific muscle groups by themselves, but it is not always convenient nor necessary when trying to get an equipment-free total body workout.
4 Lower Body Exercises
One of the newest fitness crazes now is bodyweight workouts – workouts that do not require any equipment. The beauty of these workouts is they can be done anywhere, making them the ideal workouts when traveling.
There are three basic types of lunges: forward, side and reverse. Starting position for all three is from the standing upright position.
For the forward lunge, raise your left foot and step out in from of you. At the same time lower your opposite knee, so you can stay perpendicular to the ground. Now push back with your forward food and straighten out your back leg to get back to the starting position.
The reverse lunge is just the opposite. Instead of stepping forward with one leg, step back. Of course you will have to bend your forward leg at the knee. To recover, push off with your back leg and straighten your forward leg to get back to the starting position.
For a side lunge, step off to the side with one leg. Keep your other leg straight, but bend it at the ankle. Push back up with the leg off to the side to get back to the starting position.
Squats are probably one of the simplest, yet most effective bodyweight exercise. From the standing position, feet shoulder-width apart, bend at the knees while at the same time raising your arms out in front of you so they are parallel with the ground when you are down the lowest. Now push yourself back up with your knees while slowly dropping your arms back down to your sides thus coming back to the starting position.
Do as many reps as possible of each exercise for at least one minute. For the lunges, be sure to work each leg. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat this cycle five times. At the end, you should feel the burn in your muscles worked.
The beauty of these exercises, beside not requiring any equipment, is that they work the large lower body muscle groups, thus burning more calories than if smaller upper body groups were worked.
All you need for these exercises is a good pair of cross training shoes and a workout outfit.
3 Upper Body Exercises
What we are talking about here are bodyweight exercises – exercises that use just your bodyweight as resistance. Of course one of the first (and best) upper body exercise that come to mind is the push-up. Because it is a compound exercise, it works the chest, shoulders, triceps, back, abs and even the legs.
The original push-up, or its nine variations, starts by getting down on all fours on the floor or ground.
If doing the original, extend your legs back so all of your weight is supported by your hands and feet. Your body should be and remain in a straight line from your shoulders down to your heels.
Tighten your abs, inhale and slowly lower yourself down by bending at the elbows. Go down until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Now exhale and push yourself back up to the starting position. Do as many repetitions as your routine requires. Variations include moving your hands inward closer together or your feet wider apart among others.
2) Shoulder Packing
From the standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart, and arms at your sides, press your shoulder blades down and back. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Practice 10 repetitions per set.
3) The Alphabet (or at least parts of it)
From the standing position, arms shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides, raise your arms out to your sides making the letter “T” with your body. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds per repetition and then, drop your arms back down.
Next comes the letters “I” and “Y”. From the starting position, raise your arms over your head with your thumbs touching and hold the position. To convert from the “I” to the “Y”, hold your arms apart, instead of your thumbs touching. In both instances, return to the starting position.
Last is the “W”. It is the same as the letter “T”, except you drop your elbows down instead of keeping them straight, thus forming the letter “W”.
Hold each letter for 15 to 30 seconds per repetition, 10 repetitions per set, 2 to 4 sets per letter. Repeat the sequence as many times as needed to get in a good workout.
These upper body exercises are great if you travel light and don’t like to take any equipment with you. And because no equipment is required, you can do them anywhere: inside your house or office, outside in the park or as an upper body warm-up at the gym.
4 Core Exercises
Keeping your abdominal core in shape doesn’t require a gym full of equipment. Normally all that is required is your body and a few pieces of common furniture – available almost where ever you go. But before we get into the exercises, let’s cover two basic rules when doing bodyweight exercises:
Form – This is so important not only to get the most from the exercise, but to reduce the risk of injury. Know how the exercise is supposed to be done and focus on doing it properly.
Speed – As in many things in life, slow wins the race and exercising is no different. Don’t try to get in a set of repetitions in record time. It isn’t a race against time. Moving slow and steady not only helps you focus on form and reduces the risk of injury, it gives your muscles a better workout.
Here are 4 great exercises that don’t require any equipment. Hence they can be done anywhere, which makes them a great workout when traveling.
1) Bird Dog
Start from your hands and knees on the ground or floor. While pulling in your abs, lift and stretch out your left leg and right arm. Hold for a second or two. Now bring in your stretched limbs until they touch each other and go back out to the starting position. That is one repetition. Do at least 5 reps on each side. The Bird Dog not only works the abs, hamstrings, glutes and shoulders, but also increases balance.
2) Standing Bicycle Crunch
From the standing position with hands locked behind your head, lift up your left leg and while twisting at the waist, try to touch your right arm elbow to your lifted left leg. Do 5 reps on each side. This exercise works the obliques and trunk rotational muscles.
3) Modified Bicycle Crunch
From the sitting position, hands locked behind your head, lift up your left leg and bring it toward your body. At the same time, twist at the trunk and touch the lifted leg with your opposite elbow (while keeping your hands locked behind your head). Lower your left leg, raise your right leg and twist in the opposite direction touching your right leg with your left elbow.
Continue alternating back and forth for one-minute and then take a 20-second break. Repeat the sequence 5 to 10 times. This exercise also works the obliques and rotational muscles like the Standing Bicycle Crunch.
4) Spider Plank Crunch
No bodyweight exercise routine would be complete without a plank of some sort. For this one, start from the push-up position. Now bring up the left knee and touch it to your right arm. Return your knee to the starting position and repeat using your other knee and arm. Do 5 reps with each leg. Works the lower ab and glutes.
If you notice, each exercise works more than one muscle group, thus allowing you to get the maximum benefit from each repetition – and all without using any equipment. Sweet!