Discover How To Get In Top Shape Without Joining A Gym
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How To Get In Shape Without Joining The Local Gym Or Buying Expensive Equipment.
Does This Sound Like Someone You Know? You decide it’s time to get in shape. Maybe it’s your latest New Year’s Resolution, or maybe your favorite jeans no longer fit. Now that you have a motive to exercise, it’s more than likely that you will do one of two things…
- You head straight to the local gym and pay to become a member. or….
- You head to the fitness store and spend several hundred dollars on equipment and workout attire.
Regardless of the path you choose, you probably start off with some enthusiasm. Maybe you actually do make it to the gym a few times each week for the first month. And then the enthusiasm wanes. It’s difficult to find time to get to the gym and, let’s face it, memberships can be expensive. And if you’ve invested in a lot of home fitness equipment, you may find that it becomes just another to hang your coat and hat.
There are many benefits to working out without spending your hard-earned cash on a gym membership monthly payment or exercise equipment. First, you save money, of course. And second, you get to find your right exercise program before you decide to take out your wallet.
A good friend of mine is the perfect example of someone who thought she would enjoy lifting weights and fitness classes at the gym. She joined the neighborhood gym and spent a few months attending classes. But soon she found that she enjoyed her walks outdoor much more than any of her expensive gym classes. She quit the gym and took her workouts to the street. Soon, she added bodyweight exercises to her walk routine, as well as some HIIT training. She is now in the best shape of her life, and she got there without the use of a gym.
If you think or know that a gym is not the best solution in your particular case, or if you want the convenience of exercising on your own at home with minimal equipment, then this non-gym exercise program is the right one for you. We’re going to explore together three different aspects of working out without a gym or gym equipment. They include cardio, strength, and a combination approach. We will go over different ideas for exercising, offer some tips for getting started and then explore some sample exercise programs.
Let’s get things going…..
Cardio exercises are exercises that are great for raising your heart rate. To be a bit more specific, cardio exercises are designed to strengthen your cardiovascular system and includes things like running, bike riding, rowing and even dancing. Cardio is usually performed for at least twenty to thirty minutes at a time, several times a week.
Cardio exercises are one that people either generally love or hate, but it’s so important for your overall health that it’s crucial to include it in your weekly workout. This means that it’s very important to find an exercise or movement that you enjoy.
There are those that dislike running. However, running is really is one of the best exercises that you can do for your overall well-being. All you have to do is put on a pair of shoes, head out your front door, and move your body for twenty minutes. You can start slowly and later increase the pace as your physical shape improves. There’s no need to push your body too hard or to fast when starting.
So let’s go over a few running options, and then we’ll share with you some tips that may actually help you to make running more enjoyable.
- Trail running is exactly what it sounds like. You run on trails. Trail running is nice because trails offer variety both in terms of the surface you’re running on, as well as the scenery you get to enjoy.
- Interval running is when you alternate between running at a relaxed pace (you might even walk) and running at an intense pace. Interval running allows you to get a better workout in less time. It also helps you gradually ease into running if you’re new to the sport. For example, you might walk for two minutes and run for three minutes, then repeat those intervals for your desired workout length. As your fitness improves, you might walk for one minute and run for four.
- Road running is probably the most common type of running. You run around town or around your neighborhood. Most races (including 5Ks, half marathons, and marathons) are road races.
You really can enjoy running if you…
- Listen to music, books, or podcasts while running. Many people enjoy running more if they have something to listen to.
- Run at a pace that allows you to breathe comfortably for the first ten minutes. It’s really important to start slow as this would allow your muscles to warm up.
- Staying in the fat burning zone. The pace to burn the most fat is actually much slower than you might imagine. The fat burning zone is 60 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. Your heart rate can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220.
For example, if you’re 45 years old then your maximum heart rate would be 175. 60 percent of that is 105 and 75 percent is 131. Running may be much more enjoyable if you’re running at a pace that isn’t extremely uncomfortable for you.
Running is just one way to get in excellent shape – without any equipment or a gym membership.
Next, we will take a quick look at walking before jumping to some more out of the box type cardio exercises.
Like running, there are different types of walking methods. Finding the right type for you will be the key to making it an enjoyable part of your daily life.
Walking can be one of the best exercises that you can do and if combined with some of the strength moves we are going to discuss briefly, then you really would have a complete fitness program in place.
- Race walking or speed walking is a method of walking that strives to move as quickly as possible without running or jogging. You always have one foot on the ground when you race or speed walk. There are speed walking events you can enter if you are or become competitive.
- Hiking allows you to get out in nature to get your workout done. After half an hour on a nature trail, you may feel both mentally and physically relaxed.
- Weighted walking means that you are walking with a weighted vest, or hand or ankle weights. It adds a resistance component to your daily walk, it can help burn more calories and build muscle faster.
Basic Or Normal Walking
- Of course, there is good old-fashioned walking too. If you’re new to fitness or have not exercised in quite some time, basic walking is a great way to get started. You’ll get your heart rate up, your blood pumping, while strengthening your vascular system.
So what else can you add to your daily cardio exercise routine? Here are a few options….
- Jump Rope – There’s a reason boxers jump rope. It’s great for your cardiovascular system and your physical endurance.
- Dancing – Zumba took off and became one of the most popular forms of exercise for a reason. Many people just love to dance, and it’s great for you as well. If you enjoy dancing, grab a video or turn on the radio and dance for half an hour each day. You will be amazed by your results and benefits received.
- Bicycling – Ride your bike! Bicycling is great for your entire body; your heart, lungs, and legs. You can make it part of your daily routine. You can ride on trails or on the road. Be sure you are adequately protected by wearing a helmet. Also, make sure your bike is in good working order so that you stay safe.
- Interval Training/Tabata – Interval training alternates between moderate and intense activity. You can apply it to just about any exercise. You can do interval sit-ups, interval jump rope, and even interval dancing. Tabata is a specific type of interval approach where you do intense exercise for twenty seconds with a ten seconds rest period. You repeat this 8 times.
For example, you might do 20 seconds of burpees and then 10 seconds of rest. (A burpee is a push-up combined with a jumping jack. You drop down on the ground, do a push-up, and then jump up and clap your hands over your head as you jump. Try it. You’ll see that it’s more work than you might imagine.)
- Find some stairs (perhaps in your home or at a local school playing field) and run up and down them. You might mix it up and jog 400 meters and then do ten sets of stairs. Stairs can be walked or run. Your heart rate will absolutely increase if you do several sets of stairs. You can even skip taking the elevator at work and march up the stairs. If you work in a high-rise then that can be part of your daily exercise!
How To Get Started With Cardio
We have already briefly discussed on how to get started with cardio. It’s best to start slowly and gradually increase your time and/or intensity. For example, you might run for a minute and walk for three minutes. Over time, you may decrease your walking time and increase your running time.
- It’s recommended that you do 20-30 minutes of cardio exercise on a daily basis. Another guideline if you are walking for fitness is to walk about 10,000 steps (or approximately five miles total). If you are doing intervals, dancing or other exercises that may be a bit more difficult to measure then you can exercise in smaller chunks. For example, to get 30 minutes of cardio every day, you can break that up into three ten minute sessions. It doesn’t have to be all at once.
- Regardless of what cardio program you consider implementing, it’s truly important to make sure that you are also doing some strength training. Strength training offers a number of benefits such as stronger bones, a leaner looking body, and more muscles. More muscles help you to burn more calories.
Next, We will go over strength training exercises. Here’s something for you t remember… these are exercises where there is no need for a gym or expensive equipment.
Strength Training – Body Weight Exercises
Strength training is about using resistance to cause your muscles to contract. This contraction builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and the size of skeletal muscles. However, it’s important to point out that “getting bulky” from strength training is not likely to happen.
Some people just don’t have the genetics to bulk up. So if you are worried about getting bulky, take comfort from the fact that it’s not likely to happen. And if you want to get bulky, then you’ll want to eventually start working with a trainer to help you create a program designed specifically for that goal.
What you will get from strength training is a leaner looking body. Fat will burn away faster, and you’ll be able to see nicely sculpted muscles. You’ll also have better posture, more energy, and improved health.
So let’s get to it!
The squat is a fundamental and functional movement. Every time you sit down, you are using the same muscle groups that you do in a squat. Unfortunately, if these muscles are weak then the body ends up compensating. Compensation and weakness often lead to injury. Proper squatting form is really important.
What is a squat? Stand with your feet apart slightly wider than shoulder-width. Ideally, your toes will be pointing forward, but in the beginning, you may find that you tend to point your toes slightly out. That’s fine. Now, bend your knees and send your rear back as if you’re sitting in a chair.
You’ll keep your weight over the middle of your feet. Keep your knees pointing outward. If they roll in, you’ll have to fight to push it back out. You also want to keep your back as straight as possible. Holding your arms up in front of you can help you keep your back straight, as well as your balance.
This simple movement works your quads, hamstrings, and your glutes. It also works your core muscles as you strive to keep your back as straight as possible. Squats can be performed in many different ways. You can do a squat Tabata. Remember that’s 20 seconds of squats, with ten seconds rest, and repeat for four minutes. If you think that sounds super easy grab a stopwatch and give it a try. You’ll be sore before your four minutes are up.
If you want to make it harder, consider doing one of the following options:
- One Leg Squats, aka Pistols. To perform this movement you have to have great core stability and mobility. A one-legged squat is exactly what it sounds like. You’ll keep your unweighted leg out in front of you as you lower and raise yourself on the other. Your back will be much more curved forward and that’s okay. It is necessary to stay balanced. If you can’t do this movement, but regular squats are too easy, try doing it with a little bit of assistance. You might use a chair or lightly touch your unweighted foot to the ground.
- Another option to add some resistance and difficulty to the standard squat is to add weight. You can hold a medicine ball, a kettlebell or hand weights.
- Jumping Squats. A jumping squat is an active cardio/strength movement. You start in a squat and spring out of it. When you land, you drop right back into a squat. Repeat this ten to twenty times and see how fast your heart beats increases!
The push-up is a movement that will work a large number of muscles at the same time. At first, this simple exercise can be easy for some and quite difficult for others. But if it is done on a daily basis, you will be able to get to the point where 100 push-ups in a session would not be impossible.
We’re going to talk about three different types of push-ups, starting with assisted pushups.
- Assisted push-ups are not “girl” push-ups. They are push-ups that help you work your way toward the full movement. An aided or assisted push-up starts from your knees rather than your toes. However, it’s critically important that your core muscles stay tight and that your hands stay strong and positioned just outside your shoulders.
With the push-up, you start in the top position. Your body is off of the ground and your arms are straight. Take a deep breath and lower your body to the ground, where your stomach/chest should touch. Now push back up. Don’t relax in the bottom. Keep it tight.
You can do a prescribed number of pushups each day (perhaps 25 pushups, for example), or you can do a Tabata. You can also do sets of pushups with other strength movements like squats and sit-ups.
Traditional push-ups are from the toes. Once you get strong enough to do one regular push-up, you might begin your workouts with as many traditional ones as you can, and then finish your workout with push-ups from your knees. As you get stronger, you’ll eventually be able to do all your push-ups from your toes. Your arms, chest, and back muscles will look amazing!
Weighted push-ups are what you can do when doing 100 push-ups becomes relatively easy for you. You can add weight to your body. A weighted vest or a weight balanced on your back is usually the easier approach.
Dips are a movement that works your triceps, back and biceps. The best place to do dips is at the playground using a bench or the parallel bars. The closer your hands are to your body, the easier the dip will be. With a dip, the goal is to lower your body until your shoulder is even or slightly below your elbow.
Once you have mastered dips, you can make them more difficult with weights. You can hold a small dumbbell or weight between your legs, or tie it around your waist.
If you don’t have a playground or parallel bars nearby, you can use some things found around the home including:
- Table or coffee table positioned behind you with your arms behind you for support
- Bed positioned behind you with arms behind you for support
- Any surface that is the right height and is stable enough to bear your weight will work. The goal is to be able to lower yourself using your arms. Safety is critically important here. You don’t want a table to collapse on you, and you want the surface to be the right distance from your body so that you don’t put any unnecessary stress on your shoulders.
The traditional sit-up is often ignored for the fancier “crunch” variety. The truth is that with a little back support and good form, a sit-up can really work your core muscles. So what’s the right form?
Knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
Arms can be placed wherever you want and it is okay to use your arms for momentum. Place them over your head when you’re on your back and swing them down for extra oomph as you sit up.
Touch your toes or the ground at the top of the movement.
A small pillow or rolled up towel under your low back can help protect your spine against the floor and give you support at the bottom of the movement.
You can add some difficulty to this movement by adding weight to your sit-up. For example, you can hold a weight on your chest as you sit up. The movement also changes depending on your foot position. For example, if you let your knees drop to the outside and sit in a more butterfly position, your lower abdominal muscles would also be getting exercised.
Pull-ups can be difficult to do if you don’t have the right equipment. A simple pull-up bar installed in a doorway can work quite well. Just be careful. YouTube is packed with videos of pull-up bar accidents. They fall down. People smack their head on the doorway, and more. You can also use the monkey bars at a local playground or a super sturdy tree branch.
Regular or Traditional Pull-ups
A regular pull-up is difficult, so if you don’t get one on your first try, that’s okay. It’ll come. Reach up to the bar and grab the bar. Your hands are facing away from you and they’ve positioned about shoulder-width apart. Shrug your shoulders and get tight. Take a deep breath and tighten your core. Now pull up. Lower. Repeat.
Because most people aren’t able to do pull-ups, at least not on their first try, there are a few different ways to make them a little easier so you can build strength and work your way up to a traditional pull-up.
- Bands – You can wrap a heavy duty resistance band around the bar. Place your foot in the band and use the resistance to help pull you up.
- Jumping – You can also jump up to the bar and use the momentum to get your pull started. If the bar is too far away for this to work, grab a small stool and jump from the stool. Be careful! Sprained ankles aren’t fun.
- Negatives – Start with your chin over the bar and slowly lower yourself to hanging position.
- Reverse Grip – a chin-up is a pull-up where your hands are facing you. Reverse your grip so you’re looking at your fingers instead of your knuckles. Now pull-up. You can reverse grip and do negatives or bands as well.
if you want to make this movement harder, you can add weight. You can hold a weight between your legs or strap it around your waist. And obviously, doing more pull-ups makes the workout harder too. There’s a big difference between 10 pull-ups and 20.
We’ve talked a bit about arm movements and core movements; let’s get back to your lower body with lunges. The standard lunge requires you to take a step forward with one leg. You’ll bend your knees and touch the knee of your back leg to the ground. Touch it to the ground, don’t slam it into the ground. That would really painful! Now, using the strength of your front leg, stand up. Switch legs.
A lunge is a simple movement, but like squats, if you do 50 or 100 of them, you are really going to feel it the day after. It’s a fantastic exercise for your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, and you will feel it in your adductors and abductors too. To add resistance and make it more difficult, you can hold a weight in each hand. And jumping lunges will have you sore and out of breath in no time.
The plank exercise is one that works your core muscles, both in your back and your abdominal areas. With the plank, you can do it in one of two ways. Lie flat on the ground with your hands about shoulder width apart, like you’re going to do a push-up. Now, push up until your arms are straight. Your toes will be on the ground.
The goal is to keep your body straight. As you get tired your belly and bottom will start to droop toward the floor. Keep it tight. Breathe and hold the plank as long as possible. Try to hold it for at least a minute.
The variation on this is to hold yourself up on your forearms. Resting on your forearms is actually more difficult for most people. Not only will you feel the burn in your core, you’ll also feel it in your arms and shoulders.
Fun Strength Training ideas to Consider
- Rock climbing or bouldering uses your entire body, including your arms, legs, and core. Rock climbing requires great focus and strength. You can start on easier routes and gradually work your way up. If you have a public climbing wall or real rocks in your areas, then this is a free activity. You can climb trees too!
- Jumping works your lower body and your core. You can jump up onto a step first, and gradually increase the height of the jump. Just make sure that the box you’re jumping onto is sturdy enough to support your weight.
- Remember when you were a kid and you could swing hand by hand across the monkey bars? Can you still? That’s a good test of your strength. Why not run to a nearby playground and use the bars to do pull-ups and dips, and then run back? What a fantastically fun workout!
- Handstands, walking on your hands, handstand pushups, cartwheels and the like are all strength based movements. Try standing on your hands for a minute and see what it takes. You can use a wall for balance.
Obstacles and Tires
- You see photos of CrossFit athletes flipping tires, but you don’t have to be a CrossFitter to have this kind of fun. If you have a large tire just lying around or something similar, and you have some space to flip it, then give it a try. You’ll drop down into a squat to grab hold of it. You’ll then use a deadlift motion to stand up and lift the tire. Push it over, stand back while it hits the ground and repeat. You can also set up obstacle courses in your yard or in a nearby park. Sprinting, cutting, and dropping to the ground to do a burpee can be fun when you are outdoors.
There are lots of different strength-based exercises that you can do. When you’re exploring your options, strive to find movements that use a large number of muscles. For example, if you do a biceps curl you are only working your biceps muscles. However, when you do a chin-up, you are working your biceps, triceps, core, shoulder muscles, pecs, and your lats, just to name a few. You get more for your exercise effort.
Before we offer a few potential workout programs that combine both cardio and strength, let’s talk about getting started with strength.
The following tips will keep you safe and help you reach your goals.
- Form first. It’s no good if you’re lifting 100 pounds but you’re doing it with poor form. You’ll hurt yourself and you’re not getting the maximum benefit. Work on performing the movement correctly first.
- Bodyweight is great. Using your own body weight can help you get stronger. You might increase the number of reps that you perform, but if you never add weight, that’s okay. You might do 20 squats today and by the end of the year, you can do 150. You’re getting stronger.
- Pay attention to your body. It’s important to give your muscles a rest. If your body hurts, it needs a break. Don’t push too hard or you can get injured.
Next, we’ll go over your workout program and workout schedules.
Creating Your Cardio and Strength Workout Program
The best way to achieve overall health and fitness is to embrace both cardio and strength training as part of your exercise program. They both offer different great benefits. A combined approach helps prevent boredom. There are a couple of different ways of taking a combined approach.
One option is to alternate days. You might do cardio three days a week and strength three days a week, plus one rest day. This approach works well if you have limited time. You can exercise for thirty minutes a day and vary your workouts. Alternating between strength and cardio also helps prevent overuse and soreness.
For example, you might work on legs today, do cardio tomorrow and then work on upper body strength the next day. You’re not working out on sore muscles multiple days in a row.
Cardio and Strength in One Workout
Another option is to work out several times a week with a combined cardio and strength training workout. We gave an example of that earlier when we talked about running to the park, doing pull-ups, push-ups, and squats at the park, and then running home. You can also do a combined workout in your home. Jump rope for twenty minutes and then focus on strength training for another twenty or so minutes.
The benefit of the combined workout approach is that you’re able to maximize your exercise time. You might also cut your workouts down to four or five times a week, which can give you more rest days. Some experts recommend exercising three days on and two days off.
A third approach is to break it up during the day. You might start the day with a brisk walk or jog. You might take a break from your desk and do squats and lunges. Later, you might walk after lunch and do push-ups. You get the picture. You blend both cardio and strength into your day. This works well if you don’t have large chunks of time available to you during the week, but you can exercise in ten to fifteen minutes increments.
The following sample exercise plans can help you to design a program of your very own.
- Sunday – Rest Day
- Monday – 30 minutes cardio (running/walking/cycling/swimming)
- Tuesday – Tabata pushups. 30 dips, Tabata pull-ups
- Wednesday – 30 minutes cardio
- Thursday – Tabata squats, 50 lunges alternating legs
- Friday – 30 minutes cardio
- Saturday – Plank holds Tabata sit-ups
Combined Approach (3 days on, 2 days off)
- Sunday – Tabata sprints, 50 burpees
- Monday – 3-mile walk/jog, 30 pushups
- Tuesday – 5-mile bike ride, 50 squats
- Wednesday & Thursday – Rest days
- Friday – 400-meter run, followed by 25 sit-ups (repeat 4 times)
- Saturday – 50 pull-ups, 50 pushups, 50 squats run 1 mile
- Sunday – Jump rope 100 reps, 100 walking lunges alternating legs
As you can see, it’s easy to create a varied and interesting workout program with just a few strength and cardio exercises. These simple movements can really help you take your health and fitness to the next level, and if you make sure to take good care of your sleep and nutrition then you’ll see dramatic changes quite quickly.
Staying Motivated Is So Important
Motivation to get started exercising and to continue exercising can be the biggest challenge. Your own self-discipline will be tested.
Here are some proven tips and strategies to stay excited and enthusiastic about working out.
- Set Goals – Set goals for yourself and create a plan to achieve them.
- Reward Yourself – When you achieve milestones, personal bests, or the goals you’ve set for yourself, it’s time to celebrate. For example, when you reach 30 unbroken pushups, treat yourself to a new outfit or a shirt that shows off your lean arms.
- Track Your Results – Why are you exercising and what do you hope to accomplish? For example, if you are exercising to lose weight or to get into that old pair of jeans, then start tracking your results. Weigh yourself monthly or every other week and chart your progress.
Make it fun! Do exercises that you enjoy and do them in places that you enjoy. If you like being outside, get out as often as possible. If you enjoy listening to music then blast the tunes while you work out. The more fun you have, the easier it will be to make exercise part of your daily routine.
There are no excuses. You don’t need to join a gym. You don’t need to spend money on fancy equipment. You don’t even need to set aside hours of time each day. You can start exercising today with little more than your body weight and a pair of shoes. And, truth be told, it’s one of the most effective and enjoyable ways to get in the best shape of your life.