I am a fan of bodyweight exercises – exercises that consist of using your own body as resistance. Pushups, squats, pullups… the old favorites (and some crazy challenging ones that are my goal – let’s just add “more than one pullup” and “pistol squats” to that category). A strong arsenal of bodyweight exercises makes a great go-to workout when you’re nowhere near a gym. There are other benefits too.
- They engage your entire body, when done properly. I don’t mean you’re crazy-flexing every muscle you have, but your entire body is involved in keeping your movements smooth and stable, and keeping your body tight and controlled.
- They demand core balance and stability. You’re often shifting your weight around, and unless you enjoy falling or flailing like a psychotic chicken, your smaller, supporting muscles work to keep your body in check.
- There are many ways to modify and build progressions into your workout. Something as simple as a pushup can be modified to be appropriate for everyone from the absolute beginner to the most hardcore professional athletes.
- Many exercises don’t require anything more than solid ground and a little willpower. (Willpower is by far the more difficult one for me when I’m in a hotel room on vacation.)
Great, so how does a beginner build a solid collection of exercises to do when they’re not around a trainer?
- When you ARE around your friendly neighborhood trainer, and they’re not busy (you know, training people), ask if they have a few exercises you can do on your own time when you’re not around all their fancy equipment. It’s even better if you train with them regularly, because they’ll know the modifications you need, and what issues you should watch for in your form and execution. (Be especially polite if you are not their client – this is like asking a doctor for free medical advice.)
- If you don’t have access to the above-mentioned friendly trainer, there are plenty of exercise books, videos, and websites around. And yes, there are apps for that. Here’s some fun ones: 50 bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere. My favorite bodyweight training book is You Are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren (ok, yes he is also pretty to look at). There’s an app for this book: Mark Lauren – Bodyweight Training app.
- If you’d like to meet one of the above-mentioned friendly trainers (and you live near Long Beach), I know a few.