London gym memberships can be so lofty as to price many out of the market – but that doesn’t have to mean that fitness is unachievable! This post is intended to showcase my Top 5 Bodyweight Exercises which can help you get [or stay] in shape for 2016. To illustrate this full body workout which can be dispatched without weights, I shot these images on London’s gorgeous Primrose Hill, wearing the new Superdry Sport collection! Click MORE to see the full post…
There isn’t a perfect program to fit everyone but here’s a little full body workout which includes some of my absolute favorite exercises – using only body-weight exercises, or alternatively if you’re already a paid up member of a gym, including the option of weights. My preference is always to do it outdoors on a beautiful day – the freshness of nature always gives me a boost!
1) THE HUMBLE SQUAT (as below image)
This compound movement, one which we all perform everyday when whilst [reluctantly] getting out of bed – the basic movement has some mighty powers! To my mind, the best way to execute the move is to imagine you’re slowly sitting down onto a chair, and then reversing the motion back up. For a progression, use a Barbell to supplement the weight. Read more about the benefits of squatting at my post HERE. Here’s the how-to:
a) Imagine you’re about it sit down onto a stool behind you.
b) Transfer your weight back towards the heels of your feet.
c) Maintain a strong and engaged core, whilst keeping your your shoulders back, and sit down – when ‘sitting’, try not to extend the knees past your toes.
d) Slowly and in a controlled manner, sit back down until you’re parallel to the floor or indeed slightly deeper.
e) Stand back up – that’s one repetition! I like to manage 15 reps and 3 sets of these!
2) ONE LEGGED DEADLIFT (as below image)
Obviously this is the number one move for back development. For a progression, use a Barbell to supplement the weight. How to?
a) Start by standing tall, but on only one leg, keeping the planted leg’s knee ever-so-slightly bent (i.e. not locked out totally straight).
b) Then bend forward at the hip, extending the other leg behind you. Ensure to engage your core throughout. Avoid curving your back or hunching your shoulders. The ideal form is to aspire something resembling a T.
c) Slowly lower yourself until you are parallel to the ground.
d) Return to starting position. Again, that’s one rep, and I like to aim for 15 of those, for 3 sets.
3) PRESS-UPS (as below image)
These are classic moves! They target chest, shoulders and triceps as well as the stabiliser muscles of the torso and lower back. The press-up can be varied depending on the positioning of the arms/hands and rendered easier/harder accordingly. For more on Press Ups, you can read my previous post HERE.
a) Start by lying on the floor face down and place your hands about a shoulder-width apart whilst pressing your torso up at arms length, on tiptoes. Basically, get into a high plank position.
b) The slowly lower yourself down until your chest almost touches the floor.
c) Press your upper body back up to the starting position.
d) Start over! 10 reps x 3 sets should do the trick!
4) PULL UPS (as below image)
This is an amazing exercise which I previously wrote a dedicated post about HERE. It is almost unparalleled in the way it helps develop a functionally strong back and arm complex. Depending on your grip positioning (wide / narrow / overhand / underhand / neutral / spread), they are very versatile indeed, and quite exhausting! How to?
a) Start by hanging from the bar (this is using Primrose Hill’s public ‘outdoor gym’, but a super-sturdy tree branch would do the trick! Check THIS SITE for reviews of the alternative bar suggestions!
b) Slowly pull yourself up towards the bar, leading with you chest, until you reach the end position, where your chest almost touches the bar.
c) Avoid arching or swinging your legs back and forth or ‘jumping up’ relying on momentum whereby technique suffers as a result.
d) Finally, slowly lower yourself to the initial starting position. I find these far tougher, so 5 reps constitute my usual set. 3 sets of 5 reps will do for starters!
5) WALKING PLANKS (as below picture)
This is great for core strength as well as shoulders strength. It’s really great ar strengthening the stabilizing muscles (teres minor, supraspinatus, subscapularis etc). For more on planks check out my previous post HERE.
a) Start with the weight balanced on your forearms and toes, and keep your elbows in line with your shoulders.
b) Ensure to keep a neutral spine, with your abs engaged throughout the exercise – your hips should be neither slouched nor up in the air.
c) Maintain your head/neck in a neutral position as well – avoid allowing your head/chin to drop, or indeed cranking it up.
d) Hold this position as long as possible. Stop if you feel any pain in your lower back or anywhere else. Setting a target of 1 minute to start with, and progressing from there is a good goal! I like to repeat mine 3x.