If you’re looking for a way to exercise, but don’t have time or access to weights or machines, you may think getting a good workout is impossible. However, there are several ways to train that don’t require equipment. In fact, many people prefer a functional style of training over traditional resistance exercises that incorporate free weights, cables or machines. Body weight exercises, plyometrics and sprints are all great ways to work out that don’t require the use of weights.
Body Weight Exercises
Body weight exercises can be performed virtually anywhere. Challenge your lower body by doing body weight squats, walking lunges, wall sits and step ups onto a sturdy chair. Give your upper body some love with pushups, pullups, tricep dips on a chair and chinups. Planks, abdominal crunches and leg lifts will help you craft sexy core muscles. Remember to play close attention to form when performing body weight exercises. You can still hurt yourself with sloppy form even though you’re not using weights. Do reps and sets just like you would in a traditional workout — for example, three to five sets of eight to 15 reps, depending on your goals.
Plyometrics, or jump training, involves the stretching of muscles followed by quick, intense contractions. Plyometrics are a form of power training that can mimic the movements used in different sports activities. Due to their intensity, they should only be performed by those who are in relatively good condition and free of joint problems. Box jumps, vertical jumps, long jumps, clap pushups and plank shuffles are all examples of effective plyometric exercises. Focus on quality, not quantity, with these exercises and you’ll experience an effective power workout.
You may not think of running as anything other than cardiovascular conditioning, but sprint workouts provide challenging power training that builds explosive strength and stamina. Done correctly, sprints are a total-body workout that will sculpt your lower body and core. Do a light warmup before beginning any sprint workout to make sure your muscles are adequately stretched. Vary the length of sprints from short 100-meter distances to longer 400- to 800-meter sprints. If you don’t have a measured course, use a stopwatch and perform timed sprints instead. Try to minimize the rest periods between sprints to maximize workout intensity.
Precautions and Tips
Always talk with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program. If you want to kick up the intensity of your body weight or plyometric workouts, try performing them as high-intensity circuits. Set up a series of exercises to create a circuit, and then perform them consecutively with as little rest as possible in between. According to a study published in “ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal” in 2013, high-intensity circuit training delivers the same benefits as traditional resistance training, but in less time. Another way to increase the challenge is to perform these workouts as timed intervals, limiting recovery between each set of work. Tabata-style intervals, which incorporate eight sets of intervals consisting of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest, are a great way to make even the easiest exercises grueling.
References & Resources
- American Council on Exercise: Top 25 At-Home Exercises
- ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal: High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight: Maximum Results With Minimal Investment
- American Council on Exercise: Plyometrics: Controlled Impact/Maximum Power
- ExRx.net: Plyometric Exercises
- Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: Six Bouts of Sprint Interval Training (SIT) Improves Intense Aerobic Cycling Performance and Peak Anaerobic Power