Is the gym and all of its equipment out of reach? Maybe work has been busy, you’ve been traveling, or working out from the comfort of your own home just sounds more enticing. Whatever the reason, you can forgo the gym and get in a great equipment-free workout from just about anywhere.
The key to working out without equipment is focusing on having the proper form and understanding the mechanics of each movement. The mind-to-muscle connection is the idea that when you think about the muscles you are using during a certain exercise, that movement becomes more effective. Practice this by mentally connecting with your movements when you’re working out with only your body weight and you will literally feel your muscles working harder.
Morgan Olson, fitness trainer and nutrition coach, believes that training is technical and says you need to be intentional with your effort to make equipment-free training worthwhile.
“Don’t think about just moving for 45 minutes, but think about what you are doing,” Olson says. “Really focus on the exercise because if you can master a pushup, a squat, a situp, or a plank and execute it with really good mechanics, then your body will respond really well.”
Olson’s Stronger at Home program in her fitness app is the perfect routine to practice the mind-to-muscle connection. She designed the program to be completed with no equipment, just your own bodyweight by following high-quality repetitions, using intentional speed, and practicing mobility exercises.
“I focused [the Stronger at Home program] a lot on joint positioning and volume and compound movement patterns, really quality movement patterns versus burning calories,” Olson says.
The goal with her program is to get stronger without equipment, which makes it perfect for those who prefer to work out at home or are often on the go. Each movement has a specific purpose, and if you can perfect your form, she says you will see results.
“I wanted the user to get used to moving their shoulder blades properly and sitting their hips back and feeling their glutes,” Olson says. “[The program is intended to help you] build your body awareness and your muscle activation.”
If you are new to bodyweight exercises and are looking for guidance on how to properly execute specific movements, here are a few tips on proper form:
Sit-ups are a great core exercise. They strengthen your abdomen muscles and when completed properly, a sit-up can be a very effective exercise to add to your bodyweight routine.
Tips to ensure you have the proper form:
Make sure you are lowering your upper back to the floor after every rep.
Press your lower back into the floor to avoid back pain.
If you find it difficult to keep your hands behind your head, cross your arms in front of your chest.
Doing a push-up may seem intimidating, especially if you are working to build your upper body strength, but it is an effective bodyweight exercise that you can do anywhere.
Tips to properly execute a push-up:
Engage your core the entire time, keeping your back flat.
Tuck your pelvis (think about pulling your hips under while keeping your back flat) to keep your core engaged.
If you need to modify, elevate your hands onto a chair or low table instead of dropping to your knees.
Squats are great for strengthening your lower body, including your legs and glutes. As with all exercises, you need to have the proper form to avoid injury and make the move as effective as possible.
Tips to do a proper squat:
Feet should be hip-width apart and your spine should be neutral.
Keep your chest open.
When you sit back, imagine you are sitting in a chair and keep your knees behind your toes.
Press back up to a standing position through your heels.
If you want strong arms and a strong core, planks are a great total-body exercise to add to your bodyweight workout routine.
Tips to hold a proper plank position:
Engage your core and tuck in your pelvis (think back to the proper form of a push-up).
Keep your hands directly under your shoulders.
Release the pressure from your neck and keep your gaze down and ahead.
About the author
Jessica is a recent graduate from the Ohio State University, now based in New York. Jessica loves to read, is passionate about fitness and nutrition, and is always looking for new restaurants with the best pasta dishes. On the weekends, you can find her playing with her dog Wilson, at the beach with a good book, or doing pilates.