Sometimes you can't make it into the gym. Sometimes, you don't need it. You can have a killer workout in your basement, living room, hotel, wherever. It's called body-weight training, and all it involves are some intense moves that you'll perform, using your own body as leverage and resistance. This workout is designed to help you out in a pinch when you can't get to the weights. I like to perform these as a circuit, doing as many reps as possible in 60 seconds, with little rest between exercises. After the last exercise, I'll recover for 2-3 minutes, then finish with 2 or 3 more "laps" of the circuit.
How do you build explosive power in your legs and core? Squat jumps, that's how. Building off of principles of plyometrics, begin by dropping into a squat position. From that position, explode up, using your arms for leverage, and jump as high as you can. As you return to the ground, land lightly on the feet, immediately dropping into another squat and exploding up. Try to limit your contact time with the ground. As you land, you should be ready to explode back up.
Push Ups with Variations
The reason that I use push-up variations is to target additional muscle groups than you would with a standard grip pushup. If I'm completing three laps of this circuit, for lap one I will employ the diamond-grip pushups, where my hands will be in a diamond shape underneath my torso. These will help build triceps and shoulder strength. On lap two, I will perform wide-grip pushups, extending my arms farther than the normal push up position. This will help to target various parts of the pectorals, as well as help with definition of trapezius and latissimus muscles in the back. For the 3rd lap, I like to attack the final pushups by performing clap or explosive pushups. After lowering the body, explode the arms up so that you can "clap" your hands in front of you. This builds explosive power in the arms, shoulders, and chest, and will help you maximize your effort during that rotation.
Another serious upper-body building body weight exercise, dips can be done with or without the use of a dip machine. Beginning with your arms extended, resting on your palms you can lean against a bench or use an elevated stair. Lower your body towards the floor bending the elbow to 90 degrees, then push your weight back up to the arms extended position. Once you build up that body strength, you can add by attaching a weight belt with a weighted plate for extra resistance.
A complete core maneuver, the V-Up is a sit up on steroids. Begin laying in a supine position, feet and arms extended. Bending like a "V" at your middle, raise your legs and upper body, contracting your core in the middle into a "V up" position. Lower your arms and legs back toward the floor, being careful not to let arms and legs rest on the ground. Repeat for the duration of the circuit.
The Duck Walk can be a favorite exercise, or it will be on your absolutely hate list. There is no middle ground here. You need some space to perform the walk, 25-50 feet should do. Begin by moving into a squat position, hands behind head. Without raising to a standing position, continue in the squat position, engaging your core (like you were about to take a punch to the gut), and walk the distance. Turn around, and walk back to the starting line, still in the squat position. Great for building quadriceps, hamstring, and core strength.
We save the burpees for last. Alternately known as "squat thrusts" or "up-downs," begin by standing. Squat down and place your hands on the floor. Immediately, kick your legs back so you are now in the up push-up position. Jump your legs back in towards your chest and stand up. That's one. Now squat down and repeat the move until the end of your circuit. This is a total body exercise, combining upper body, lower body, core, and cardiovascular principles in one exercise.
Ryan Barnhart, MS, PES, is a certified Performance Enhancement
and Injury Prevention Specialist through the National Academy of Sports
Medicine (NASM). He also holds a master's degree in exercise science, as
well as a bachelor of sport management, both from California University
of Pennsylvania. Ryan has worked with numerous collegiate and amateur
athletes across many different fields. Ryan also has had the opportunity
to work with several professional athletes. Recently he has worked with
amateur and professional athletes within the emerging sport of Mixed
Ryan is currently the director of fitness at a 700+ member gym near Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoys working with weekend warriors, athletes, and everyone in between. You can contact Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.