It’s not cheap to join a gym or health club these days. Membership fees in the hundreds and thousands are not unusual. That’s before you get any kind of access to personal trainers. In some cases you won’t even get access to cardio and aerobics classes without extra payments. But the cost of a gym membership isn’t necessary if you know a few great bodyweight workouts.
There are many great bodyweight workouts you can do at home without the need to buy any extra weights or gym equipment. Personally, we think a home gym is a fantastic investment. You can buy used dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls and even weights and cardio machines in good condition for relatively low prices. But all of these machines simply simulate natural resistance. You can find this kind of resistance all around you. In fact, you are your own best resistance machine.
BODYWEIGHT WORKOUTS ARE GREAT FOR BURNING FAT
Everyone knows what push-ups and sit-ups are. Not as many people are aware of the myriad of other bodyweight workouts and resistance exercises you can do. They are all very effective in burning fat and building lean muscle. The most important thing about bodyweight workouts (any workouts really) is the intensity level you put into the exercises you do.
Burning fat is a product of metabolism. Boost your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and you’ll be increasing your body’s need for energy. This means your body will burn more calories even when you’re resting. But slow, steady (read: boring) cardiovascular training won’t achieve an increase in BMR in the same way as high intensity interval training (HIIT).
Even before the push-up or sit-up was ‘invented’ people were using their body weight as resistance when they ran. But marathon jogging sessions aren’t what we have in mind here. To use your body as resistance in an intensive way while running, you need to sprint. Sprinting challenges the body in an unparalleled way. It pushes all of your muscles to their limit and forces your metabolic rate into overdrive to recover. This is a serious fat loss secret.
Another great way to push your body into an intensive fat burning zone is to do supersets as part of your bodyweight workouts. This simply means you do two sets of different exercises without taking a break in-between This can be best accomplished by making each set target different body parts. For example, do a set of push-ups and a set of lunges together without a break in between. Mixing up sprints and supersets is the ultimate way to get intense with your training.
EXAMPLE BODYWEIGHT WORKOUTS
Next time you’re tempted to take a nice long jog and work up a sweat, do yourself a favor and decide to do some sprints instead. Find a quiet park or deserted running track and have a go at the following high intensity fat burning sprints:
1. 5 min warm-up jog
2. 60 second sprint + 60 second rest. Repeat 3 times.
3. 20 squat jumps + 20 push-ups. Repeat 3 times resting for 30 seconds between each superstate.
4. Repeat 2.
5. 20 lunges + 20 sit-ups. Repeat 3 times resting for 30 seconds between each superset.
6. 5 min warm-down jog.
Otherwise, if you’re looking for a more strenuous bodyweight workout check out the ultimate bodyweight workout here.
NEED MORE RESISTANCE?
Not everyone trying to burn excess body fat is overweight. Getting your 6 pack abs to rip through means reducing your body fat percentage below average. But burning those last couple of pounds of stomach fat isn’t easy. If you’re already inside your healthy body weight then to target that last bit of belly fat you might need to up your resistance as part of your bodyweight workouts.
Some easy ways to add more resistance to your sprints is simply to carry an old backpack with bags of sand. You can make these little weight bags easily with bin liners in advance and weight them so you can keep track of how much resistance you’re using. Add more bags for more resistance or take some out if it’s too much. These bags also work well for bodyweight exercises like lunges and squats and push-ups.
Doing intense bodyweight workouts doesn’t mean you should be hurting yourself. Build steadily rather than throwing yourself in the deep end. You don’t need to be puking or pulling muscles to burn fat effectively. If in doubt about your ability, try a shorter sprint or less repetitions in your sets. If it was too easy, do more. And always consider seeing a health care professional before starting any new kind of exercise program.