3 Killer Bodyweight Workouts To Keep You In Shape by Shin Ohtake
ďWhat workouts can I do when Iím away on a trip and I donít have access to a gym?Ē This is a question that I get asked often. So I thought Iíd share a few tips, exercises and workouts that I like to do when Iím awayÖ I guarantee these will boost your heart rate up, get your muscles pumping and sweat pouringÖ and no itís not Tae Bo.
As much as I like to lift weights and workout at a gym, Iím always amazed at how tough and challenging a body weight workout can be. Sometimes itís hard to imagine that you can really workout at high intensities using just your body weight, but when you look at the three major variables that increase intensity, load (weight) is just one variable. The other two variables are speed of the movement (exercise) and time (duration and rest).
If you perform fast explosive types of exercises, youíll recruit larger muscle fibers and will stimulate more muscle fibers even when your using just your body weight. Take a look at squat jumps for instance. The movement is basically a squat, but by adding that explosive element (jumping) youíre going to recruit larger fast twitch muscle fibers. Larger muscles require more energy and hence burn more calories.
You canít change your body weight, but you can change the intensity of the exercises and workouts by changing the speed at which you perform the exercises as well as changing the rest intervals. The faster you perform the exercises while minimizing rest can greatly boost your intensity level. You can easily scale your workouts and make it as hard as you want to or as easy as you want to without worrying about having to change the weight (dumbbell or barbell) youíre using.
Anyway enough technical shop talk and letís get to the meat of the matter. One of the first things I do when I check into a hotel is to look for the fire exit and the stairs. If the stairs arenít too narrow or too tightly wound and arenít heavily used by the other patrons, itís one of the best places to workout. Going up stairs, especially when stepping up two to three stairs at a time is like lunges on steroids. There hasnít been a time that Iíve done a stair workout where I havenít been sore for at least two to three days!
Hereís a typical workout I like to do on the stairs:
Squats 10 - 20 reps followed by going up 3 to 4 flights of stairs, followed by 10 - 15 Push Ups. Walk back down and repeat. For the second round, try stepping up two stairs at a time for 3 to 4 flights. Walk back down. Hopefully youíre feeling pretty warm by this time and youíre ready to go. If not, you can always repeat it for one more round. Take a minute rest before starting with the first set.
In the first set, the idea is to progressively increase the pace and distance that you go up the stairs. Start off by going up 3 flights of stairs at a medium pace, taking one to two steps at a time. If you can, try taking two steps at time - itís more challenging and works more muscles. After reaching the top of the stairs, walk down to the bottom. Each round, add one more flight and increase the pace from the one before. Repeat this until you reach 6 flights of stairs. By this time your pace should be pretty fast and your heart rate should be up. After you come back down to the bottom, rest for 1 - 2 minutes before starting the second set.
The second set is the real kicker! In this set your goal is to perform 10 Push Ups (you can do Knee Push Ups, or if youíre up for a real challenge do Plyo Push Ups - push your hands off the floor as high as possible each rep) followed immediately by sprinting up the stairs preferably 2 - 3 stairs at a time for 4 flights. Walk back down rest 30 seconds or as much as you need to catch your breath and repeat 6 - 8 rounds. This is a real doozy! Be careful not to trip on the stairs, especially as you get tired. Your coordination starts to go when your fatigue kicks in, so youíll need to really focus on the later rounds. The goal is to try and keep up the pace as long as possible.
By the time your finished this workout you should be feeling pretty tiredÖ in a good way! Make sure you warm down by walking around the hallway for 5 minutes or so followed by a gentle stretch. If you brought a foam roller with you, even better! Roll out the legs for a good 5 - 10 minutes, especially your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves. If you donít know what Iím talking about check out the article I posted a few weeks back on muscle recovery.
Now letís say the stairs arenít conducive for working out. No problem! The next best place to workout is your hotel room. Look around you room to see where you can create a space large enough to lie down on the floor without any part of your body touching a piece of furniture. Thatís all the space youíll need. Youíll probably need to move some furniture around to accommodate your workoutÖ hopefully nothing too big!
Here are a couple of workouts that you can do when youíre stuck in a hotel room with nowhere to go or even at home when you donít have time to go to the gym:
10 Squats / 10 Lunges (10 per leg) / 10 Push Ups / 10 Side Lunges (10 per side) (Repeat 2 times)
8 Push Ups / 10 Lunges (10 per leg) / 12 Squats Jumps - As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes
10 Squats / 10 Split Squats (10 per leg) / 10 Push Ups / 10 Mountain Climbers (10 per leg) (Repeat 2 times)
Perform all the exercises in a row continuously following the 20 seconds ON / 10 seconds OFF interval time format until all 10 rounds are completed. The goal of the workout is to keep up the number of reps performed for each exercise through out the entire workout. For example, if you did 10 Push Ups in round one, your goal is to do 10 Push Ups through out the entire workout for 10 rounds.
Push Ups - As many as possible in 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest
Split Squat Jumps - As many as possible in 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest
Mountain Climbers - As many as possible in 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest
Squat Jumps - As many as possible in 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest
Repeat for 10 rounds for a total of 20 minutes.
Optional Ab / Core Work
Plank - hold for a 1 min
Side Planks - 15 reps on each side
Hip Thrusts - 20 reps
Repeat for a total of 2 rounds
These are just a couple of workouts that you can try out. Feel free to change it up or mix up the exercises from the two workouts and create your own workout. I like workout formats where you perform as many rounds as possible in a given amount of time or where you are challenged to perform as many reps as possible in short intervals - such as 20 seconds followed by short 10 seconds rest. I find that itís a great way to use body weight exercises and maximize as much work as possible in a short amount of time.
Now you have no excuses not to workout when you travel or even if you donít have time to go to a gym. Try some of these workouts and see for yourself how challenging body weight workouts can be.
Shin Ohtake is the author of the world-famous fitness program, MAX Workouts. To learn more about how you can get ultra lean and toned with shorter workouts, visit http://www.MaxWorkouts.com