Something that is forever being thrown up as a barrier and reason for not moving and exercising is the excuse of not having enough time. As a trainer this is something that I hear quite often but can combat quite easily to get clients out of their sedentary lifestyles. If you’re a reader of Fitness Newspaper you will have seen
the ‘Alive in 5′ articles that are there and these challenges will give you an amazing all round workout in no time at all…….about 5 minutes actually So to add on to that I wanted to talk about calisthenics, or body weight exercises, so that no matter where you are, how much or how little time you have, you’ll never be ‘gym-less’ again!
I’m sure you’ve all heard of and have done some bodyweight moves before – things like burpee’s or mountain climbers – but have maybe ignored the potential benefit of these and other calisthenic exercises. Some of the hardest and most challenging workouts I have ever done have been using nothing more than what I was born with (i.e. my body) and a little space in my hotel room. Plus, as a bonus, I haven’t spent a dime and have also avoided potential overload injuries….But that’s a little off the subject and another article all on its own, so lets get back to the topic at hand…
Your Body Is Your Gym
To put it as simply as possible, calisthenics are where you use you’re own bodyweight as resistance. This may sound boring and limited if it’s not something you’re very familiar with but you couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you begin to play with the speed, angles, body positioning, explosiveness, progression/regression and exercise combinations, you have an unlimited arsenal of moves that will not only keep you fit and strong but will also challenge the pants off you! To go through and list off all of, or even some of, the potential exercise possibilities would take a collective group of people a long time and they would almost always certainly continue to come up with more and more. So to give you a taste of the endless possibilities let’s use one exercise everyone knows – the push up – and show you how it can be tweaked to produce numerous variations.
A Standard Push-Up: This is done by placing your hands on the ground approximately shoulders width apart while being prone with your toes on the ground. You then lower yourself and push back up….easy right?
Beginner Push-Up: If a standard push-up’s too difficult, either perform the exercise on your knees instead of your toes, or place your hands on an elevated surface, e.g. a table, a chair, or a step (and gradually use lower and lower surfaces until you can do a ouch up with your hands on the floor).
Advanced Push-Up Variations: If the standard push-up’s too easy, try:
(i) Single Leg Push-Ups: raising one leg in the air;
(ii) Feet-Elevated Push-Ups: place both feet off the ground onto a higher surface.
Can you see where I’m going with this? Now lets play with your hand positions….
Wide-Hands Push-Ups: Place your hands wider then shoulder width.
Close-Hands Push-Ups: Place your hands close together, directly underneath your chest.
Rotated-Hands Push-Ups: Turn one hand out and the other hand in.
Single-Arm Push-Ups: Try taking one arm out the equation all together – and tell me that’s not effective and challenging enough! (although like the standard push up, this can be made easier by placing the one hand your pushing with on an elevated surface)
Next we can begin to play with the speed and force at which you perform each press:
Plyometric Push-Ups: Starting in the standard push-up position, lower yourself to the ground and push up with enough force to drive you’re hands off the ground. Once you’re able to perform these and want more of a challenge try shifting your hand positions with each explosive push, moving them forward/back, wide/narrow, hands turned in/out, or even onto and off of a raised object.
As you can see, one simple exercise can become many. Imagine the endless possibilities! You can find an enormous amount of calisthenic exercises on the internet to quench your workout thirst but for a more structured, effective workout for your own personal goals seek out and find a reputable personal trainer to help guide you in the right direction.
With the right bodyweight exercises and their numerous variations, no matter where you are or what you have at your disposal you will never be gym-less again!
Now go get creative!