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Rack the Weights, Use Your Bodyweight for a Total Workout

girl doing push up
By David Thornton

Summer is here, and that means sunshine, vacation trips, and a busy schedule of fun. You may have dedicated yourself all winter and spring to hitting the gym to get in shape, but a busy summer schedule can make it hard to accomplish all of your workouts. Sometimes a drive to the gym plus workout time just isn’t feasible. And, if you’re like me and your job revolves around a computer screen, its nice to be able to stand up, knock out the daily exercise, and get back to work. At home or on the road, a bodyweight workout can make the difference between skipping and keeping up your schedule.

I’m a huge fan of bodyweight workouts. They can be done nearly anywhere with limited space with little or no equipment, and can be modified to suit your current fitness level. Plus, they can be done outside or in a hotel room. Sure, most hotels have some kind of fitness equipment, but why go use some windowless room when you can get a workout as the sun rises on your shoulders in your favorite vacation spot?

A bodyweight workout centers around two exercises: push ups and squats (add in pull ups if you have a bar to use). I can already hear the really strong folks complain that a buff body isn’t built on push ups alone. I agree. If you want to build a bodybuilder body, you’re going to have to pick up some heavy weights, but the workout option I’m going to offer isn’t an end-all-be-all workout. Even I, a guy who isn’t looking to be a bodybuilder, use weights to accomplish my overall fitness goals. Bodyweight exercises, however, can be a great tool in keeping yourself motivated when you’re busy, having a change-of-pace workout, and getting yourself going if you’re just starting to get in shape. Plus, you can make the workouts more difficult as you get in better shape.

SO, WHAT IS A SIMPLE BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT?

When I started doing bodyweight exercises, I did a simple twelve-set workout centering around variations of a push up. I did two sets each of regular push ups, diamond push ups, “wide grip” push ups, and what I call “shoulder push ups” to failure. Shoulder push ups basically look like the yoga pose downward facing dog, but I’d lower my head to the ground and push myself back up. For my lower body, I kept it really simple. I did one set of squats in between every other push up set.

As that workout got easier and my push up count rose, I added in one-handed push ups, and changed those shoulder push ups into handstand push ups with my feet resting against a wall. When that workout got easier, I added a 20-pound weighted vest I picked up at a nearby sporting goods store. And my leg workout got a little more complicated. Some of my squat sets changed to one-legged squats (with the other leg up, behind me, resting on a chair), and I threw in some jump squats and table sits (it looks like you’re in a chair with your back against the wall, but there is no chair) for a little diversity.

 

MY CURRENT WORKOUT

(DONE TWICE AS A CIRCUIT WHILE WEARING A WEIGHTED VEST):

  • JUMP SQUATS
  • PUSH UPS
  • DIAMOND PUSH UPS
  • SQUATS
  • PULL UPS (IF BAR IS AVAILABLE)
  • WIDE-GRIP PUSH UPS
  • ONE-HANDED PUSH UPS (ONE SET EACH HAND)
  • ONE-LEGGED SQUATS
  • CHIN UPS (AGAIN, IF BAR IS AVAILABLE)
  • TABLE SITS (HOLD FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE)

(FOLLOWED BY A SPRINT WORKOUT WEARING THE VEST)

 

BASIC BEGINNER WORKOUT

(DONE TWICE AS A CIRCUIT):

  • PUSH UPS
  • DIAMOND PUSH UPS
  • SQUATS
  • WIDE-GRIP PUSH UPS
  • SHOULDER PUSH UPS
  • SQUATS

(FOLLOWED BY CARDIO)

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1 Comment on Rack the Weights, Use Your Bodyweight for a Total Workout

  1. working on reducing my bulk am doing more reps and set less weight. I weighted 325 down to 280 I am 6ft tall the problem I carried it and my chest I don’t have breast, in fact some people say it look good I worked out hard from the early 80s and 90s in fact I was a trainer, am 54 what can I do to rip up be for summer I have been back training for about 1 and a half years hard training running , weights and bodyweight.

    Like

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