The gym membership can be pricey, and you do not have any free weights at home. However, you can still get a full-body workout by using your own bodyweight to build strength, endurance and muscle tone. While weight machines and free weights can help make you stronger, bodyweight training tends to work multiple body parts together, improves movement patterns and increases body awareness, says the IDEA Fitness Journal.
Bodyweight training doesn't always mean that you train without any equipment. You can use steps to do step-ups, a pullup bar to do pullups, suspension cables or even a broomstick to assist you -- as long as you rely mostly your own body to provide its own resistance.
If you want to get a workout that builds muscle endurance and burns more calories in less time, circuit training could be an alternative to high-intensity cardio such as cycling or running. Circuit training is doing several exercises in a certain order without rest in between, according to Vern Gametta, author of "Athletic Development." For example, do 10 reps of bodyweight squats, pushups, lunges and pullups. Rest for one minute between each circuit. and repeat the workout two to three more times. You can adjust the difficulty by changing the number of reps or the amount of rest time. The workout will make your heart and lungs work like you are doing a 5-mile run.
Supersets stimulate a higher rate of muscle growth than working just one exercise at a time. This is where you do two exercises that train different muscle groups so that one group rests while the other group works, says physical therapist Gray Cook, author of "Athletic Body in Balance." For example, you can do a lower-body exercise and an upper-body exercise without rest in between, like doing one set of bodyweight squats with a set of pushups. Rest for one to two minutes and do two to three more supersets. Another way to do a superset is by working out opposing muscles, such as doing pushups and pullups. Because the exercise duration is shorter than circuit training, the exercise intensity using the superset method is usually higher than circuit training.
Power-endurance training may be ideal for experienced exercisers who are looking for an extra challenge. It is similar to doing a regular superset, except you perform one set of high-intensity, explosive movement followed by a second exercise that moves at a similar pattern at a lower exercise intensity, according to strength coach Robert dos Remedios, author of "Cardio Strength Training." For example, perform a set of jump squats for 10 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of bodyweight squats. Or you can do one set of pushups with a clap for 10 seconds followed by a set of front lunges for 20 seconds per leg. Because of the high-intensity nature of power-endurance training, consult with a qualified and certified exercise professional if you are new to power training.
- IDEA Fitness Journal: Body Weight Training Program
- "Cardio Strength Training;" Robert dos Remedios
- "Athletic Body in Balance;" Gray Cook
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.