Hack my convict conditioning
March 13, 2017 6:59 PM   Subscribe

What bodyweight exercises can I do on top of jogging ~5K, on average 2/week, to maximize my non-existent exercise time?

Pudgy female, hitting forty, and trying to claw back some exercise time from my crazy work hours. I run (more like jog) ~5K on average 2 times/week (if I can find time again to go 3 times/week, I will consider it an overwhelming success!). I used to lift weights and still do it when I can, but my small gym has only one squat cage, frequently occupied by a grunting dudebro, and after a whole day putting out fires I cannot face negotiating anything with yet another person. Also, frankly, the constant loading and offloading plates onto barbells gets old fast.

What bodyweight exercises can I do instead, on top of running, to maximize strength, flexibility, and stamina in the short and infrequent time I have? So far I got: squats, sit-ups, and plank... and then I ran out of inspiration.

Special snowflake restriction: I am not a fan of explosive movements, bigly. So if you tell me to do burpees or jumping jacks, I will just not go to the gym at all :)

(In the past I had good experience with Starting Strength, so if there's a bodyweight program that allows for a wide range of body types and skills, please recommend!)
posted by Ender's Friend to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Just thinking of the bodyweight exercises that I do..... Lunges, push ups, side-plank, hip bridge, calf raises, dips, leg drops, crunches. There are lots of different core variations (different ways to torture yourself with planks, etc.), I might be inclined to look up some on bodybuilding.com if I needed some ideas.
posted by rozee at 7:08 PM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

There's an actual book called Convict Conditioning with a graduated program in it. It's kinda ra-ra masculine testosterone crap marketing but the program itself is decent. Take you from (for example) standing wall pushups to one-arm pushups, etc.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:16 PM on March 13, 2017

I'm a fan of r/bodyweightfitness' recommended routine. Lots of video demonstrations and explanations on that page, plus it also has an app to make it a bit easier to keep track of what you're supposed to be doing/how many reps etc. I find it similar to Convict Conditioning but prefer the progression of the RR (plus you don't have to wade through the cringey macho marketing text mentioned above)
posted by btfreek at 7:27 PM on March 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

There's nothing like bicycle commuting for maximizing exercise time in a busy schedule. And if commuting to work isn't an option, there's always replacing other trips and errands that you'd be making with a car with bicycling or walking. Build exercise into your schedule in ways that don't require you to make a special effort, and you win back time you'd otherwise be spending at a gym or in a car. Bike or run to the gym. There, you've got your warmup out of the way before you start your workout!
posted by asperity at 7:37 PM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

For core, I really like plank shoulder taps , mountain climbers, and as active rest, the quadrupedal hover. I do these three in a row, for 40 seconds each, and use that as a two-minute block. There are tons of plank-based exercises, though; I'm just skimming the surface.

I like these because they are not crunches (which I cannot do), and I can sometimes feel it in my deep abdominal muscles the next day (so they're working what I want to work).

If you don't have a problem with your knees caving inward, I like split squats with an elevated back foot, so you're really sure you're working the standing leg. But I feel like most leg bodyweight exercises have to have stupidly high reps or explosive movements to compensate for the lack of resistance from carrying weights.

For arms, there are pushups in all varieties; I sometimes cha-cha with my hands. One meaningful but non-aerobic bodyweight exercise you can do is straight arm reverse flies -- make a cross with your body, hands out, arms parallel to the ground, palms forward, and breathe until there is no tension in your neck. Engage your shoulder blades down and towards each other, then hinge over and hold, keeping your tail tucked under and neck relaxed. The muscles worked here keep your shoulders from stooping over and prevent your upper trapezius muscles from taking over and causing neck pain.
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:15 PM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

(You can work the one legged squat variations to push your legs a bit further with bodyweight only, but legs are always going to be tough to push hard without weights.)

Sit-ups have a bad reputation these days - they’re viewed as being bad for your back IIRC. Plenty of other ways to work the core - planks, leg raises etc etc.

I second the advice to go look at the r/bodyweightfitness recommended routine. It’s strength focused & backed a bunch of people with a lot of experience. The reddit itself is super friendly as well. If you roll your own routine, make sure to incorporate both pulling & pushing exercises or you’ll eventually end up with shoulder injuries thanks to muscular imbalances.
posted by pharm at 4:10 AM on March 14, 2017

I'll note that the reddit recommended bodyweight routine also has a user-made free (or donation version) ad-free app : https://www.reddit.com/r/bodyweightfitness/comments/3bmwzf/introducing_bodyweight_fitness_rbodyweightfitness/ . I haven't used the app myself, but it could make easier and require less thinking/remembering when you're thinking "what next?"
posted by nobeagle at 9:26 AM on March 14, 2017

There are apps that offer 10 minute workouts!

Sworkit is my favourite and offers personalized workouts for flexibility, strength, endurance, etc.
posted by Crookshanks_Meow at 4:48 AM on March 15, 2017

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