Workout Anywhere: Exercises to Do at Home
Wouldn’t it be nice to train anywhere and still get an awesome workout? Not just a “fitness” type workout but a full-on, muscle-building, fat-burning training session that you can perform on the road, at home or anywhere you go. A real bona fide workout.
Most look at bodyweight style training or anything remotely resembling it as if it was reserved for those who want to tone up or get in general fitness shape. This isn’t just a bodyweight plan. It’s a complete change in thinking about training. It’s a paradigm shift toward a more flexible perspective so you can loosen the reigns on your traditional ways of thinking.
Related: 8 Best Bodyweight Exercises for Mass
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The magic of adaptation
With the traditional training mindset you may feel you have to workout at a full-fledged gym complete with a wide array of weight stations, machines, dumbbells and other apparatuses. You think, without them you won’t be able to achieve your full physical potential. Without all of that equipment you can’t get that physique you want.
This is a close-minded attitude – one that will hurt you more than help. Answer this: If all of the squat racks are occupied at your local gym and you are about to train legs how do you feel? What goes through your head when you aren’t able to do what you set out to do? Do you huff and puff and hover around one of the squat racks hoping that someone sees your impatient body language and hurries up?
How do you deal when someone throws a wrench into your plans? Following a traditional gym-centric training program is still a great way to build muscle but there are other ways to get the same job done.
Adaptation is a skill that can be developed while your optimal training potential stays intact.
How to be flexible
You now know that you need to become more flexible so now let’s get down to the how. How do you go about putting this plan into action when the time comes?
Your first step is to develop a short list of exercise alternatives – a tool bag of sorts to call upon in times of need. Below is a simple list of substitutes in case your workout calls a blitz on you.
Instead of bench presses, incline bench presses or any machine presses go with dumbbell floor presses, feet-inclined push-ups, chest dips, kettlebell presses, suspension trainer press-outs, suspension trainer flys, elevated box push-ups, plyometric push-ups, sinlge-arm dumbbell chest press or ring dips.
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Exercises to Do at Home: Or Anywhere
Back. Instead of bent-over barbell rows try inverted rows, feet-elevated inverted rows, wide-grip, close-grip or reverse-grip pull-ups, two-arm and on-arm dumbbell rows, suspension trainer rows, dumbbell deadlifts, renegade rows or kettlebell rows.
Shoulders. Instead of military or machine shoulder presses perform side, rear or front lateral raises with dumbbells, kettlebells or weight plates, steering wheels, one-arm dumbbell or kettlebell presses, pike presses, handstand push-ups or suspension trainer shoulder pulls.
Triceps. Instead of triceps cable push-downs go with floor or feet-elevated close-grip (diamond) push-ups parallel bar triceps dips, bench dips, suspension trainer triceps extensions, rack presses, ring triceps dips or band press-downs.
Biceps. Instead of barbell or preacher curls try reverse-grip biceps pull-ups, suspension trainer curls, rack curls or band curls.
Quads. Instead of barbell squats or leg presses perform box jumps, depth box jumps, feet-elevated Bulgarian split squats, walking lunges, reverse lunges, step-ups, pistol squats, squat jumps, lunge jumps, dumbbell or kettlebell squats, goblet squats or overhead dumbbell squats.
Hamstrings. Instead of machine leg curls go with dumbbell Romanian deadlifts, single-leg Romanian deadlifts, suspension trainer lying leg curls, lying flex ball leg curls, Russian leans or ankle slide leg curls.
Calves. Instead of machine calf raises do single-leg calf raises, squatting calf raises, dumbbell floor calf raises, calf jumps, single leg calf jumps or sprinting.
Structuring Your Training Program
When it comes to putting all of the pieces together you can go one of two ways. You can simply replace current exercises with the ones listed above (if you’re just replacing a few) and perform the same body part split, or (if you’re on the road or out of your element) you can adopt a three or four day per week full-body program to give yourself something a little (or a lot) different than what you’re used to.
After some time you may find that you’ve adapted quite well to some of the alternative exercises listed above, especially the bodyweight moves. When that day comes you will need to find creative ways to increase intensity so you can further your development.
Angles: Performing exercise at certain angles will increase or decrease the level of stress on specific exercises. For example, elevating your feet on a push-up or inverted row will make these moves more challenging. Conversely, if you were to place your hands on a low bench for push-ups or place your feet on the floor for inverted rows you would decrease the levels of intensity.
One and a half reps: This technique is an instant intensifier. If you wanted to make feet-elevated Bulgarian split squats more intense without adding additional weight, for example, perform your reps as followed: Squat down all the way and then come up only half way. Next, descend all the way down again and then come up all the way for a full rep. One and a half reps are serious muscle burners and don’t require a ton of weight if at all.
Pauses: Stopping an exercise at any point during its range of motion will seriously tax any body part. For example, if you were to pause at the mid-range of a push-up for a count of five or ten seconds you would instantly increase the time under tension for your pecs.
Holds: Holds are a bit like pauses in the fact that you will stop an exercise at a certain point during its range of motion but here you will hold and squeeze the muscle at its peak contraction. For example, on inverted rows you would pull your chest up to the bar and squeeze your shoulder blades together for a count before lowering your body back down.
High reps: Some days you can opt for going high rep to completely tap out a specific area. This can also create a little competition with yourself by setting a certain number of reps as a goal. If you wanted to finish a total of 100 box jumps for a lower body workout just shoot for a total number of reps without worrying about how many sets it will take.
Shorter rest periods: Another instant intensifier that requires little thought is to simply reduce the rest time between sets. You’ll be chasing recovery the entire time by not letting you have a long break in between sets. If you normally rest one or two minutes shoot for 30 seconds or less.
Compound sets: Lastly, compound sets pit two exercises for the same body part with each other. You will do one set right after another with little to no rest. An example of this would be a set of suspension trainer triceps extensions immediately followed by a set of close-grip push-ups. Afterwards, rest for one minute before your next set.
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Before you start
By employing any of these tactics, alternatives or intensity techniques to your existing program, be sure you assess your needs first. Don’t just haphazardly throw in a few exercises hoping for the world. Methodically find where there are holes in your current program and take a few tricks from your bag. Also, it would be wise to have a few alternative exercises on deck for when you find yourself training on a Monday evening at 5 o’clock on International Chest Day.
Have some weapons at your disposal to quickly get what you need. It will prevent a lot of frustration down the road. With time and without knowing it you’ll be well-equipped to switch it up on the fly and have some kick-butt workouts.
Take the plunge
Whether you choose to include more bodyweight exercises in your program or just replace a few unique movements have confidence in your ability to make them as effective, if not more than your current routine. Challenge yourself and adopt a few of the intensifiers, get outside of your comfort zone and keep moving forward.