So, you want to get in shape, build some muscle, and lose a little fat – but you don’t have the time or money to make it to the gym? Don’t worry! While barbells and dumbbells are certainly ideal for reaching your goals, you can still get a kick-ass muscle building workout right in your own home with little to no equipment.
The key to a great in-home workout is knowing how to use your own body to challenge yourself. Everyone knows a few body weight basics, but it can be tough to actually progress when it’s the only tool at your disposal. This is even more true if you’re losing weight, making your “training weights” lighter as you get into better shape! Here are a few key exercises, along with some tips on you can make each one more challenging as you get stronger.
You may not have access to a squat rack, but the squat should still be your mainstay movement for overall muscle building and fat loss! It’s the most basic and effective movement you can perform, as long as you continually push yourself with more difficult variations.
To start, plant your feet roughly shoulder width apart, and sit back as you sit down. Push your knees out to the sides, bring your butt back, and sink down as low as you can go. There’s no crushing load on your back, so you’ve got no excuse not to go as deep as possible! You really won’t reap the full benefits of the movement if you’re not sinking all the way into the hole.
When you’re first starting out, 4 – 5 sets of 20 rep might be challenging enough – but don’t stop there! Make the exercise more difficult by changing up your foot positioning, and always strive to add more sets and reps. I also like to just shoot for a total rep goal – 100, 150, even 200 in a single session. To keep yourself honest and ensure progress, aim for a certain number of sets and reps within a given time frame. Taking 10 minutes to do 15 extra reps isn’t a big deal, but going from 100 to 200 in the same time frame will produce serious results.
Challenge Move: One-Legged Squats
Once you’ve mastered the air squat, give the one-legged “pistol” squat a try! Squat down with just one foot on the ground, holding your other leg straight out in front of you. You won’t be able to go very deep at first, but you’ll quickly work up to sets of 5, 10, and even 15 one-legged squats. Progression on this exercise is sure to add overall strength, size, and definition to your quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
Everyone thinks they know how to do a push-up, but are you really getting the maximum benefit from this tried-and-true movement? You’re probably not competing in a push-up contest anytime soon, so put your ego aside and learn how to do the exercise with strict, challenging form.
With your hands just a little wider than shoulder-width apart – and your legs held perfectly straight – descend slowly until your chest actually touches the floor. Pause ever-so-briefly, and then explosively push yourself back up into the starting position. Properly-performed push-ups will humble you at first, so don’t be surprised if you get gassed after just 10 or 15 reps.
As with the squats, always strive to add more total reps within a given amount of time. Once you get good with your regular hand positioning, try widening and shortening your “grip,” as well. Super-wide push-ups are an awesome chest builder, while close-grip push-ups are outstanding for your triceps.
Challenge Move: Diamond Push-Ups
You’ll probably notice that push-ups get a lot harder as you move your hands in. For the ultimate challenge, bring them all the way in, so that your thumbs and forefingers are creating a diamond shape on the floor. Also, keep your elbows tucked in to your sides during the entire movement, instead of flaring them out at the bottom. This variation is even harder on the triceps than other close-grip push-up variations, and it’ll be sure to give you some serious mass on your arms!
If you’ve got a doorway and just a little bit of cash, you should be able to add a simple pull-up bar to your in-home setup. And, even if you don’t have the funds – or a sturdy enough structure – you can undoubtedly find a fitting tree branch, pull-up bar, or set of monkey bars at a local park.
If you’re not strong enough to do a few pull-ups with your body weight, start with jumping pull-ups, using the momentum from your legs to get you through the movement. As your lats and arms get stronger, you’ll be able to use less and less of a jump, and eventually you’ll be performing perfect reps with your body weight.
You’ll probably be strongest with a roughly shoulder-width grip, but try all sorts of variations to fully develop your lats, biceps, traps, and rear delts. Wide-grip, close-grip, underhand, and even mixed grip are all great. You might even try using just two or three fingertips to strengthen your forearms and grip.
Challenge Move: Behind-the-Neck Pull-Ups
It may take a while to reach this level, but you’ll eventually want to give the behind-the-neck pull-up a go. Grab the bar as your normally would, but pull yourself up and forward, so that the bar is actually behind your head at the top. If you can’t get all the way to the top, just challenge yourself by pulling at that different angle, and always strive to get a greater range of motion. This exercise is particularly great for building up all those powerful-looking muscles around your neck, and it’ll help to stabilize your shoulders for push-ups and other pressing movements.
With these three exercises, you’ve a squat, a press, and a pull – the three most important movement patterns for packing on size, getting stronger, and burning fat. Of course, there are tons more movements you can add to routine. Crunches and sit-ups are a must for strengthening your abs, and you can perform them anywhere where you’ve got a person or piece of furniture to hold your feet in place. You can also do curls and triceps extensions with milk jugs, cans and other makeshift “weights.” The options are only limited by your creativity!
Article by Sixpackfactory’s Muscle Building Expert and Top Fitness Model Justin Woltering. Get more info on Justin at: http://www.justinwoltering.com/