I want to expand my in-home workout routine.
March 30, 2006 12:01 PM   Subscribe

I want to expand my in-home workout routine.

I actually like working out, but I hate going to the gym and all the attendant drama involved with me figuring out the correct way of using 300 machines and not dropping dumbbells on myself. To that end, I've begun working out in my home, using only my own body weight as resistance.
So far, I do two different kinds of pushups (regular and diamond), situps (the bicycle kick kind), and handstands against the wall (held for a period of time, like 45 seconds today, and eventually, I will move to handstand pushups when I'm ready). I also run and do yoga as I feel moved to.
These exercises together pinpoint my chest, abs, shoulders, if I figured it out right (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). I'd like to know what other exercises I can do using only my body weight and no props other than things that can typically be found at home.
Bonus: I'd love for my back to look less flabby.
posted by BuddhaInABucket to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Crossfit has some tough workouts that don't require props. Angie is a recent example:

See how long it takes you to do:
100 Pull-ups
100 Push-ups
100 Sit-ups
100 Squats (no bar)

I don't do Crossfit, but know some guys who do. The workouts can be a lot tougher than they sound, so take it easy at first.
posted by driveler at 12:05 PM on March 30, 2006

Crossfit's exercise page also has lots of videos and slideshows showing the exercises in their workouts.
posted by driveler at 12:08 PM on March 30, 2006

Here's more information about two things that kick my butt: Burpees and planks. Walking lunges are also good.
posted by ambrosia at 12:16 PM on March 30, 2006

Buddha, I have your answer. Get two orange juice jugs--the Tropicana ones are good because they have comfortable handles (2.84 litres in Canada, what's that--a gallon?).

You can now fill the jugs with things of various density: water graduating to sand graduating to wet sand graduating to ?lead shot (I haven't reached that yet).

I mostly climb stairs--I live in a ten floor apartment building so do two to five sets of 20 flights. You probably want to start out without the jugs until it gets too easy, but within a month or two you can start with a jug in each hand half full of water and proceed from there. I note that you live in a house but if you have even one flight of stairs I think it would be still worthwhile, as you are doing work going down as well as up. It is amazing how many muscles this seems to work--my shoulders, arms, legs, abs and chest are all fatigued at the end of this workout.

You can also use the jugs as barbells for all the usual exercises or for bonus points do the exercises while you're doing the stairs.

I'm not an exercise physiologist so welcome any comments by others saying this might be dangerous but I can personally vouch for the fitness and strength benefits. Take it slow, though--the stair climbing part is a very intense workout.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 12:18 PM on March 30, 2006

Simple, effective, and you already have the equipment: dips. Put your feet up on one chair in front of you, and your hands on a second chair, and dip yourself down.
posted by inigo2 at 12:21 PM on March 30, 2006

Hindu squats, hindu pushups.
posted by fixedgear at 12:22 PM on March 30, 2006

Oh, and there's always shovelglove. Basically, it's just a sledgehammer with something wrapped around the end so it's less dangerous. The website has a variety of motions you can do with it, and a lot of instructions.

If you're looking for something 'different' to try, this is it.
posted by inigo2 at 12:23 PM on March 30, 2006

Second fixedgear's recommendation of Matt Furey's exercises. He has way too much marketing going on, but his book is to the point and I found it at a bookstore reasonably priced - I believe it's called Combat Conditioning. It has some great exercises in it in addition to the ones listed on the hindu squats/pushups page listed by fixedgear.
posted by striker at 12:36 PM on March 30, 2006

You might want to look into Pilates matwork. You don't need any equipment, though you'll want to invest in a good book or DVD.
posted by liet at 12:47 PM on March 30, 2006

In my spare time, I help run CrossFit's New York branch. As a life-long athlete, I was initially skeptical of how effective any of their bodyweight-only workouts could be. After a solid year-and-a-half of getting my butt handed to me by those workouts, however, I can heartily, unequivocally endorse them.

Here are a few good (albeit brutal) examples:

* 100 Pull-ups
* 100 Push-ups
* 100 Sit-ups
* 100 Squats
For Time

* 20 Pull-ups
* 30 Push-ups
* 40 Sit-ups
* 50 Squats
5 rounds for time

* 5 Pull-ups
* 10 Push-ups
* 15 Squats
Each min on the min for 30 min

* 5 Pull-ups
* 10 Push-ups
* 15 Squats
As many rounds as possible in 20 min

* 5 Handstand push-ups
* 10 1-legged squats
* 15 Pull-ups
As many rounds as possible in 20 min

(Named after Navy Lieutenant Michael McGreevy, 30, of Portville, NY, who was killed in Afghanistan June 28 2005.)
* Run 800 meters
* 50 Back Extensions
* 50 Sit-ups
3 rounds for time

(Named after of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005.)
* 1 mile Run
* 100 Pull-ups
* 200 Push-ups
* 300 Squats
* 1 mile Run
For time. Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed.

Good luck!
posted by thomascrown at 12:50 PM on March 30, 2006

Body weight work outs rock.

Go here: http://www.trainforstrength.com/

Chief among them are Hindu Squats (mentioned above), Jump-squat thrusts, (IF you have high enough ceilings), push-ups, dips and pull-ups. Really that's all you need. There are endless varieties.

You can alleviate boredom by differing kinds of repetition schemes - like for doing it for set time, gradually reducing rest periods between, if you want raw muscular endurance. Or by doing your sets in pyramids for strength.

Or, for more challenge, by adding weight with ankle weights or a weight vest (you can get these at a garage sale for a couple of bucks easy).

You can break up the work out with interesting forms of movement that challenge coordination but don't over fatigue between sets.

Jump rope for two minutes between every three sets. Or. Shadow Box/Kick box for two minutes between sets.

Or my very, very, favorite thing - a Heavy punching bag (at least 80lbs). You can make one or buy one for pretty cheap. Hang it in the garage. And wrap your hands and get bag gloves then wail on it, starting slow, for a minute or two between sets. Your arms, back and shoulders will tone up in no time.

You can take the bag down and roll around with it like a Brazilian jiujitsu grappling dummy, or lift it and throw it around the yard like a Judo dummy. What ever. Five minutes is great work out.
posted by tkchrist at 3:40 PM on March 30, 2006 [2 favorites]

Never tried it myself, but a previous thread mentioned the shovelglove. It might be what you're looking for.
posted by purephase at 3:47 PM on March 30, 2006

If you want to build endurance, then bodyweight stuff is great. If you need to increase your strength it will definitely work, just not as efficiently as heavy weights. IMHO of course :-)

You could try reading Pavel Tsatsouline's "The Naked Warrior". Pavel himself is quite a controversial character, and there is definitely far too much marketing claptrap in his books (pages full of endorsements for his other books etc) but the exercises themselves are solid.

One good tip is to work on making existing exercises harder. Do press-ups with one leg in the air. Do press-ups with your feet on a bench. To build endurance, try pausing at the hardest part of the contraction: midway-up during a pressup. Try doing 20 press-ups then holding your nose just off the floor for 20 seconds, then 20 more press-ups.

Try one-legged squats, a.k.a. "pistols". I just can't do these without falling backwards, must be something to do with my physique. If you have this problem try holding a weight with your hands to counter-balance, or try holding the non-supporting leg out behind you. Check out the proper form for this exercise before trying it. Make sure your knee stays above your heel, not beyond your toes.

One-armed press-ups. Some people feel that these, as well as hindu press-ups, are bad for your shoulders. Others say they're very good for your shoulders. Who knows.

Bridge: on your back, both hands flat on the floor by your head, feet flat on floor, lift yourself off the floor, back arching. Probably not great if you've got a bad back and compression is contraindicated.

Mike Mahler
's "body-blast". I'm having trouble finding it, but it's probably in his website somewhere. Basically it's very similar to a burpee but with weights in your hands. The movements should be quite fast but not as explosive (no jumping). Stand; squat down so your weights/hands are on the floor; shoot legs out into press-up position; press-up; shoot legs back in; stand (maintaining good posture, check your back); bicep curl; military press; lower weights; repeat.

One-armed handstand. Tricky! Be careful.

One-armed pull-up. One-arm hang from a bar.

Do sit ups very, very slowly. Suck your navel into your spine before each one and clench your pelvic floor (the same muscles you'd use to stop yourself urinating mid-flow).

Wide-grip pull-ups will work your lats, and that might help the back. Also try a "reverse flye"... I'm not sure what else to call it. I do it lying under a table, but you can do it with a barbell. Lie on the bench, grip the bar as if you're going to do a bench-press, but instead keep your body rigid and pull yourself up, till your chest touches the bar. Squeeze the shoulder-blades together, you should be able to work out good form.

Man, I could go on and on. But I won't :-)
posted by ajp at 4:43 PM on March 30, 2006

The burpee things that ambrosia links is badass.

I remember books like these from highschool that had all kinds of different exercise routines that used only your body weight and stuff around the house.

For example, dips (two chairs facing each other, do dips on them), inclined pushups (elevate your feet on a coffee table), &c.

There's also lots of good things to be said about chinup bars (there are lots of different forms to work different muscle groups) and a jumprope.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 4:48 PM on March 30, 2006

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