5 Bodyweight Exercises When You Can’t Get to the Gym

bodyweight exercises

Sometimes you can’t get to the gym. It might be because of bad weather, bad traffic, or maybe you just aren’t feeling the travel there and back. Instead of skipping your workout for the day, here are some bodyweight exercises that you can easily do in the lounge or bedroom. This way, you can fit in the daily exercise you need—without the need for any extra gym equipment!

Before we lay out all the great ways to workout at home, we have put together a workout for those days where you can’t make it to the gym. It’ll load right into the app if you’ve signed up already!

20 Minute Bodyweight Home Workout

Some of the Best Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do

Lunges

Lunges can easily be done using just your bodyweight. Stand with your knees slightly bent, legs hip-width apart. Then take one leg in front of you into a split position and squat down until the front leg is parallel to the floor. Bring your leg back to its original position and change sides.

The great thing about lunges is that you can really add variety and mix it up. Here are some changes you can make:

  • Step backwards with your leg instead of forwards
  • Instead of stepping back from your lunge back into your starting position, remain in the split position and lunge from there. Then after you have completed your set, revert back to the start and swap legs.
  • Walking lunges – Instead of staying in the one spot, move forward with each new lunge, alternating legs. This will really work on your balance as well.

Squat

Bodyweight squats are a great workout. To do the squat, stand shoulder-width apart and bend at the hips until your knees are parallel to your glutes. Make sure you keep your chest up, then stand up to the original position. Just like lunges, you can also change things up with the squat.

Here are some squat variations:

  • Pulse at the bottom instead of standing up with each rep.
  • Only stand up halfway before squatting down again (half squats)
  • Hold the squat at the bottom position to really feel the burn.

Tricep Dips

You don’t need a specific gym bench to work on your arm strength. You can use your bed, chair, or bench at home.

Sit on the bench with your legs bent in front of you. Push off the bench until you are supporting your weight with your arms. Lower your body to the ground, bending at the elbows. Push yourself back up to starting position.

This will give your triceps a good workout. If you want more of a challenge, instead of putting your feet on the floor, grab another bench or chair and place your feet on it so your legs are suspended between the two. Then repeat the same instructions to do the dip.

Make sure that whatever you use, such as a chair, that is is stable and can provide good support.

Plank

We can’t forget core work! The plank is one of the best bodyweight exercises. Get on the floor on all fours, using your forearms as support. Slowly extend your legs until they are straight. Squeeze your core, making sure your hips aren’t too high or low. If your hips are too high, your body will make an upside-V. If it is too low, your hips will be sinking to the floor in the middle. Your body should be in a straight line. Now, hold for 1 minute. If you can’t then go for as long as you can, trying to increase your time with each rep.

Try a side plank as well. This is when you turn your body to face one side, for example, leaning on only your left forearm. Lift your hips off the floor, making sure that you body is once again in a straight line. Extend the other arm into the air above you. Repeat on the other side.

Calf Raises

People tend to neglect their calves but it is good to get some calf exercises in. Stand on a step or block, something to make you elevated. You should be resting on the balls of your feet. If necessary, hold onto something for support such as a wall or chair.

Then lift off your heels as far away from the ground as possible. It should be like your standing on your tippy-toes. Bring them back down in your starting position, then repeat.

Want a challenge? Try doing single leg standing calf raises, which is balancing on one leg at a time only. Then repeat on the other side.

Make a Circuit

Now that you know some great bodyweight exercises, you don’t have to skip your gym time. Use these workouts and make a circuit depending.  You can also change it up depending on different variables.

For example, one circuit might be to do 1-minute of each exercise with 30 seconds rest in between. During that 1-minute, do as many reps as you can do, while performing the move with the correct form for 5 rounds.

In another circuit, you can also set yourself a goal, e.g. 20 air squats, 15 calf raises on each leg, that you have to meet before moving onto the next exercise. Superset it (no rest between each set) until you have finished one round of the circuit. Then repeat for as many rounds as you want.

Bodyweight exercises may use no or minimal gym equipment but they still can give you a killer workout. Try these bodyweight workouts for when you can’t get to the gym, so you can fit in your daily exercise.

Workout with Jefit

Need more ideas for bodyweight exercises? Jefit has a ton of them in our exercise library! Combined with a workout log, customizable workout planner, you have everything you need to have a great workout session. We even offer a members-only Facebook group so you can chat with other Jefit members! Join here today!

bodyweight exercises

Tabata: The Best Workout You’re Most Likely Doing Wrong

First, some background on the well-known Tabata workout. The workout almost ended up having a name other than Tabata associated with it. The Japanese researcher did not design the exercise protocol he just showed how good it was at improving work capacity in athletes. The head coach of the Japanese speed skating team brought in Izumi Tabata, PhD, to work with the team back in the 1990’s. The coach wanted Dr. Tabata to analyze the efficacy of their training program. The training program used short 20-second bouts of high intensity exercise with brief 10-second rest periods. It was Dr. Tabata who subsequently showed the world, through his research, how effective this type of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) actually was.

Misunderstanding in a Tabata Workout is Intensity Level

To begin with, most individuals end up performing a Tabata protocol incorrectly because they choose a low intensity. Looking back at the original research published in 1996 by Dr. Tabata you can see that his original training intensity was very high.

ATHLETE GROUP 1

Subjects pedaled on a cycle ergometer for 60-minutes at a moderate intensity (70 percent of VO2 max). This is comparable to a long, slow jog. Subjects were male amateur athletes in their mid-twenties. Subjects exercised 5 hours a week. The anaerobic capacity did not change. The VO2max increased significantly during the training in this group.

ATHLETE GROUP 2

Subjects pedaled for 20-seconds, followed by 10-seconds of rest, repeated 7-8 times for 4-minutes. This was performed at a maximal effort. The key word here is maximal, subjects worked at 170 percent of VO2 max. Subjects exercised 20-minutes a week. Anaerobic capacity increased by 23 percent after 4 wk of training. It increased further toward the end of the training period. After the training period, anaerobic capacity reached 77 ± 9 ml/kg/min. or 28 percent higher compared to pre-training capacity.

Both subject groups performed the exercise protocol for 6-weeks. During that time, subjects worked out either 5 days a week for a total of 5 hours a week or 20 minutes. After the training period, aerobic capacity or VO2max increased by 7 ml/kg/min. while anaerobic capacity improved by 28 percent.

Tabata Workout Protocol

The athletes used in the early work of Dr. Tabata were tested on a cycle ergometers. Therefore, certain exercises like a plank typically don’t elicit a high enough training intensity. Jump squats, on the other hand, work nicely because more muscle mass is involved. Finally, to mimic a true Tabata protocol, select exercises that utilize a large percentage of muscle mass not isolation type movements. A couple of suggested cardio products that would work are explosive bodyweight exercises, rowing ergometer, versa climber or running stairs.

Tabata Protocol

  • Warm-up (suggested time 5:00) – Use a 2:1 work-to-rets ratio x 8 rounds
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • Cool-down (suggested time: 5:00)

14-minute total time, 4:00 High Intensity work

The idea is to complete as many repetitions of the exercise or movement in 20-seconds, rest briefly for 10-seconds and repeat this format 8 times. Lastly, the idea is to repeat the same exercise or movement or choose different exercises for each round.

Use the Jefit App to Build, Log & Track Your Workouts

The Jefit app now has the ability to perform and log interval based workouts like Tabata Protocol. Stay Strong!

You Can Get Stronger Doing Bodyweight Home Workouts

Special times call for more creative home workouts. Even though we are all stuck at home because of CV19, life hasn’t stopped and neither should our workout. With local gyms still closed, the only option is working out in and around the home. The question is, can we keep our bodies strong with body weight home workouts?

Some people are more fortunate and have a home gym or some piece of home exercise equipment. The majority of people however don’t have either. The next best option is bodyweight home workouts. The Jefit app, has been helping on that front, by publishing strength-based and bodyweight home workouts to their 10 million members.

Exercise Progression is Key for Home Bodyweight Workouts

You may see improvements in strength initially with bodyweight only as a resistance. The key to a home bodyweight workout is figuring out how to safely progress your workouts over time. The body typically adapts to a new training routine within a few months depending on several factors. After this point it’s important to add exercise progression into the mix. This is done in one of three ways, either changing the sets, repetitions, or resistance. Generally speaking, the goal is in the 2-5 set range and 5-15 repetition range. This could change depending on the individual goals. The resistance needs to be challenging enough to enable you to reach and stay within those ranges. If someone is able to perform more than 12-15 repetitions, then the load is too light and weight should be increased. If bodyweight is the main resistance than you have to get more creative.

Changing the angle of how an exercise is performed (i.e. progress from kneeling push-up to a push-up to an elevated push-up) will also help. A second option is slow down the speed of each repetition in order to increase the time under tension. A third option would be to add an external weight source, like a weighted vest, chains, medicine ball or sandbag when performing the exercise. Finally, a fourth option is to add an incline (hill) or platform (plyobox) to challenge the body even more when doing specific exercises.

Some of the Better Bodyweight Exercises

The human body cannot differentiate between various types of resistance. It only knows that a load is being placed on the muscles. Free weights typically work best for building strength because you can increase that resistance as the body adapts and gets stronger over time. It becomes more challenging to do that with a person’s body weight only. But if you are creative, you can in fact build strength with just your body weight. This may be challenging to do over a long-period of time though.

There are many great bodyweight exercises to choose from when putting together your bodyweight home workouts. Exercises that are multi-joint are considered best. These are exercise that engage more than one muscle group to perform the movement. These types of exercises are more beneficial than isolation exercises. Multi-joint exercises are also best for building strength and muscle size. Here are some of the best exercises, in no particular order, to add to your bodyweight home workouts. The majority of the exercises listed below are multi-joint exercises.

Bodyweight Exercises

  1. SQUAT
  2. LUNGE
  3. STEP-UP
  4. PULL-UP
  5. CHIN-UP
  6. PUSH-UP (and variations like T-PUSH-UPS)
  7. INVERTED ROW
  8. DIPS
  9. PLANK
  10. SINGLE-LEG GLUTE BRIDGE
  11. PISTOL SQUAT
  12. BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT
  13. SINGLE-LEG ROMANIAN DEADLIFT

To answer the original question, can you get stronger doing bodyweight home workouts? The answer is yes. Research published in Physiology & Behavior showed that body weight exercise can be beneficial because muscle growth “can occur independent of an external load.” Additional research in the European Journal of Applied Physiology also showed gains in strength with a “no load” exercise protocol. Let us know if you have a favorite exercise that you’ve been using from home, that’s not listed here. Stay Strong!

ADDITIONAL READING

How to Grow Stronger Without Lifting Weights, Scientific American, Clayton Mosher, 2014.

Spice Up Your Exercise Routine With These Creative Home Workout Ideas

After months of dealing with Covid-19, gyms are starting to open slowly around the country. More people then ever before started working out from home during this time period. Forbes reported two items purchased most often during the pandemic have been bread machines and gym equipment. From a consumer standpoint, it’s often difficult to know what exercise products are best options for a home gym. Hopefully, this article will shed some light on that question and more.

What Home Workout Equipment People are Buying Most Often

ResearchAndMarkets.com recently published an article on the state of the health and wellness industry. During the coronavirus lockdown, fitness equipment sales jumped by 170%. The equipment mentioned in their report were more big ticket items though like treadmills, rowing machines and bikes. To put this in better perspective, online sales of fitness equipment from last year rose 70% from February to March. As a year to year comparison, sales increased 535% during the same period this year, according to Adobe Analytics.

The numbers below represent how much of an increase home exercise equipment has risen from 2019 through 2020 according to ZDNet. This is a good starting point in terms of possible products to purchase depending on someones needs and space requirements.

Equipment                                                   Sales Increase 2019 vs. 2020
Dumbbells                                                                    1980%
Weight Plates                                                               1355%
Kettlebells                                                                     1000%
Pull Up Bar                                                                    640%
Benches                                                                        530%
Barbells & Attachments                                              355%
Power Racks & Smith Machines 315%
Equipment Mats & Flooring 300%
Weight Storage                                                              285%
Push Up Stands                                                             200%

Source: eBay 

Digital Fitness

According to L.E.K Insights, “consumer investment in digital fitness has increased by 30%-35% relative to pre-COVID-19 levels, positioning the sector for faster growth in the future.” Options for home exercise include subscription-based online classes and exercise apps. The number of online classes have exploded with offerings for everything from yoga to boot camp.

Home Workout Program Options

The following series of programs are currently featured on the free version of the Jefit strength training app. All of these workouts can be done with minimal equipment right from home or eventually back at the gym. Jefit features thousands of workouts and exercises for its user base. Jefit is one of the best workout planner & tracker apps and that could be the added motivation that you’ve been looking for.

Home Exercise Program for Beginners with Minimal Equipment

1 – Body Transformation – (Week 1 & 2)

2 – Body Transformation – (Week 3 & 4)

3 – Body Transformation – (Week 5 & 6)

Bodyweight Home Exercise Routine for Beginner

The idea behind this bodyweight circuit workout that you can do at home is to pair each two exercises together. Exercise A1 & A2 are performed back-to-back before resting, then do cardio and repeat the exercise sequence for a second set. Then transition to the next series of exercise, B1 & B2, and so forth.

A1. Exercise Band Squat, 10×2

A2. Exercise Band One-Arm Row, 12×2

Jump Rope 2:00

B1. Push-Ups, 12×2

B2. Prone Back Extension, 10×2

Jumping Jacks 1:00

C1. Forearm Plank, 30 sec. to 1:00 hold x2

C2. Glute Bridge, 12×2

Mountain Climbers, 30 sec.

D1. Bodyweight Dips, 15×2

D2. Arm Circles, 20 reps forward/20 reps backward

Perform one set of each exercise and then go back through the circuit and repeat for a second set (or round) following a 2:00 rest period. Good Luck and Stay Strong!