Hard as it may be to believe nowadays, there was a time long before gyms existed and there were still people in great shape. It’s actually a bit ironic that modern conveniences have been partially responsible for our current society’s need to have gym facilities in the first place.
In older times (and also in certain cultures in our present time), people were more active than the average American is in the 21st century. They stayed fit without ever getting on a elliptical trainer. There are methods of getting in shape that have been around a lot longer than gyms and there are lots of exercises that require very little or no equipment. I bet you’ve already even done a lot them.
The push-up is probably the best and most classic example of an exercise that requires nothing but your body. This one exercise alone can make a noticeable change to your chest, shoulders, and arms. There are endless ways to vary it up as well. Putting your feet up on a wall at an angle will make them harder because you are putting more weight on your arms. You are changing your position and therefore you have less leverage. You can gradually progress to walking your feet up the wall all the way until you wind up doing handstand push-ups!
On the other side of it, if you keep your feet on the floor and walk your hands up on to a ledge, step, or any other sturdy surface that is higher than the floor, you can give yourself better leverage. This is a good technique to use in order to train towards doing one armed push-ups. By doing a one armed push-up on an angle you can get better at the technique and gradually build towards doing them on the floor. Experiment with different variations on the push-up and it can stay fresh and challenging for you.
Pull-ups and chin-ups are also among the best exercises for building the upper body and they require very little equipment. If you don’t have a pull-up bar then try to find a park or playground with monkey bars. I love to take my workouts to the park when the weather is nice. I find it beats working out at the gym by a landslide.
Squats and Lunges are two of the best exercises for your legs. While these are great exercises to perform with weights, they can also be very effective with just your body weight. Even if you have strong legs, doing an endurance workout with hundreds of bodyweight squats and lunges can lead to you having a hard time getting up out of a chair the next day. Taking squats and lunges and turning them into plyometric exercises is another great way to add a new challenge with no equipment. All you need to do is jump on your way up and then land right into the lowering phase of the next rep. Repeat until your legs are quivering and your heart feels like it’s going to explode. Then rest and repeat. Or go into another set of push-ups while you wait for your legs to recover. Of course, squats can be performed with one leg as well–and this is just the tip of the iceberg!
Your creativity is the only limit to finding ways to vary these fundamental exercises. Experiment for yourself and don’t feel the need to conform to the limits of conventional methods. Finding new challenges and adding different variations is one of the keys to success in the world of fitness.
Check out my video about push-ups!