The COVID-19 pandemic has affected so many areas of life, and getting out to exercise or hit the gym has been no exception. For many, not being able to conduct their usual fitness routines launched them immediately into improvisational tactics to get their fitness fix. For others, experiencing lockdowns inspired them to start their fitness journey, turning the negative conditions of confined quarters into a reason to improve their health and wellbeing, thus decreasing their susceptibility to the inevitable stress that has been going around.
Either way, finding ways to get and stay fit at home has received unprecedented attention since the outbreak of Covid-19. For so many people, however, not only did they not have equipment to hand at home, but any options to purchase gear online disappeared as prices skyrocketed and supplies dwindled.
But, here’s the good news. The best tool you can use to achieve a great workout without equipment is something we all have access to – our bodies. Body weight training exercises (utilizing movements that force you pull or push your own body weight) can slim and tone your body whilst also adding muscle definition. They also condition your body to better handle daily physical activities such as carrying heavy bags, lifting up your children and generally maintaining a good posture. Plus, for anyone experiencing lengthy time-outs from their favorite sports, this is the perfect way to keep your body in great shape for a return to the game.
Here are five of the most trusted, staple exercises that you can do at home with no equipment required.
This exercise, recently made more famous by the viral planking challenge, works the whole body, can be done anywhere and allows for plenty of variations.
Although planking may look simple, it can be deceiving. While you are planking, you’re working your entire core – including obliques, rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis. In addition to this, your glutes are also working hard, supporting your bum and back. Despite its difficulty, though, this exercise can easily be carried out safely and without any complications.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but planking can also assist in significantly reducing back pain. Through planking, your abdominal muscles are conditioned to activate and support your body, and once they do that, they’ll be taking a considerable strain off your back. The improvement of your posture can also have a great effect on your shoulders and neck, combatting pain brought about by repeated slouching.
This time-honored exercise move is the king of multi-tasking. When performing squats, you activate your back and core muscles, practice balance and improve circulation. You also burn more fat than other exercises due to the simultaneous muscle gain. Squats are also one of the most useful and oldest functional exercises, meaning that this movement is highly adaptive to daily body-use – you’ll have no problem squatting down to reach the bottom fridge shelf after putting some squatting hours in.
Unlike the standard squat exercise, lunges incorporate a significant shift in weight as you step forwards or backwards. As mentioned earlier, these exercises are also a great way to condition your body ready for a return to your favorite sport, and for ongoing peak performance. Lunges, according to Bats Finder, are an excellent addition to a baseball player’s workout as they increase flexibility and stability in the lower extremities.
Lunges are known as unilateral training exercises, meaning that they individually train each leg. Rather than solely increasing strength, unilateral exercises work to increase your overall coordination and balance, which brings your back and core strength into play.
4. Balancing poses
Whilst we’re on the subject of balance, holding a range of balance poses can work wonders. Although not necessarily yoga-based, many of these poses are derived from traditional yoga movements and again, will help any sports player stay limber while they wait to return to normal activities.
Balancing poses such as Plank Pose, Chair Pose (holding a seated position), or any well-known yoga poses (High Crescent Lunge, Tree Pose) should be added to an at-home no-equipment routine. They stretch your muscles and limbs and improve posture and flexibility, as well as build strength through various muscle-use and core engagement and are good for all ages.
Last but not least, this classic engages your biceps, triceps, core, deltoids and lower body – and that is all just to maintain stabilization. Using all of these muscle groups at once requires your heart to work harder to push oxygen-rich blood to your muscles. This makes push-ups a great cardiovascular exercise that promotes heart health whilst strengthening muscles.
These body weight exercises may seem boringly simplistic, but in many cases that is exactly what is required. If you are in any way undermotivated or uninspired, it can be due to the mental fatigue of over-complicating what actually needs to be simplified in order to create the necessary action. These exercises are tried, tested and trusted for good reason and can be adapted with plenty of variations to keep them interesting and challenging.
So, get moving and experience the powerful simplicity of using only your body weight to transform your fitness!
Cover Photo by Elena Kloppenburg on Unsplash