Does this sound familiar to you: You've just reached your optimal fitness level, and there's a vacation or other ongoing event that keeps you from going to the gym. Before you know it, your muscles are fading away– at least that's how it feels. But don't worry, there is a solution to this problem, and that is working out without equipment! You can work with your own body weight to maintain or improve your fitness level. And not only on vacation, but also in everyday life!
In this article we will introduce you to the advantages of training without equipment compared to traditional strength training. In addition, we give you an overview of the best bodyweight exercises and we provide you with useful tips for the execution of your workouts.
Training without equipment – these are the advantages
A workout with your own bodyweight is not only enough to intensively challenge your muscles, but it has some serious advantages over “pumping” in the gym. Find out in the following sections what speaks for bodyweight training.
No time? No way!
The reason you skip your workout is often due to a lack of time. After all, you have to go to the gym first in order to do your workout. After a stressful day at work, this is not always easy. When training without equipment, there are no such excuses! Exercises with your own body weight can easily be done at home, in the office or anywhere else. You don't have to go to the gym and that can save a lot of time. In addition, this form of training is ideal for your vacation!
For inter- and intramuscular coordination
Unlike most exercises on equipment, deadlift exercises, like all movements in everyday life, are characterized by a complex sequence of movements. This means that different muscles have to work together to make the movements possible. Thus, training without equipment is more functional, holistic and balanced than a workout using machines; you prevent muscular imbalances and are better able to cope with the demands of everyday life.
Bodyweight training targets other muscles
Compared to machine training, bodyweight exercises activate the so-called deep muscles to a greater extent. These are all the deep muscle layers that give shape to the body and take over stabilizing functions (e.g. pelvic floor muscles and deep parts of the back and abdominal muscles). By strengthening these muscles, you maintain your overall performance, improve your posture and prevent discomfort.
Good to know: Your strength and flexibility depend largely on the interaction between surface and deep muscles.
Increase your energy metabolism!
Since training without equipment always involves the use of several muscles, you use more energy than with isolation exercises on machines. In general, the more muscles are active during a workout, the more calories are burned.
Training without machines = training without injuries
Unlike guided exercises on machines, deadlift exercises use the natural movement of the human body. This results in a lower risk of muscular misuse and therefore a lower risk of injury. Interested in the perfect warmup before a pull-up workout? Then check out our article “warm-up before pull-up training”.
Not only your muscular system, but also your brain benefits from a workout without equipment. As mentioned above, the complex movements require coordination between the individual muscles, which also helps your coordination. You will notice the improved coordination both in everyday life and in other sports: You'll feel more efficient and perform movements more effectively.
You can vary the workout without equipment indefinitely to keep you motivated. Combine different exercises with each other and vary them to keep the fun in the movements. This is a clear advantage over the monotonous exercises in the gym! There are no limits to your creativity: The push-up alone can be performed in various ways to work the muscles in different ways.
A workout the way you like it
With equipment exercises, the only way to adjust the intensity is to reduce or increase the training weight. When training without equipment, on the other hand, you can control the intensity individually. For example, if the push-up is difficult for you, you can place your knees on the floor and cross your feet behind you. If this form also does not match your training level, you can, in addition to the knees, place your lower legs on the floor. If you want to increase the intensity of the push-ups, you can, for example, stretch a chin-up strap over your back and clamp it under your hands. This will provide you with additional resistance during the exercise.
Tip: Another way to vary the intensity of a workout is to perform the exercises faster or slower.
Excess weight is no obstacle!
Even if you have “a little too much on your hips”, you can benefit from training without equipment. You can control the intensity individually and choose the right variation of an exercise for you. In addition, you can always take a break if it becomes too much for you.
Note that strength training is very important even if you are very overweight, in order to make your body more resilient and thus protect you from injuries. The muscles built up during training stabilize your body and at the same time relieve your joints and spine.
Note: If you want to protect your wrists during the workout without equipment, you can support yourself on your forearms and on your knees during the support exercises.
Exercises for your training plan
In the following sections, we will briefly present the best exercises for training without equipment. Include all of these movements in your workout plan and nothing will stand in the way of a fit, healthy body!
Push-ups for a broad chest
The push-up is one of the classics in weight training. It is characterized by a simple execution and by an effective strengthening of the chest and shoulder muscles as well as the triceps. Since various muscles must be tensed for the movement, the push-up also promotes your whole-body tension. To increase the training effect and to protect your wrists, we recommend the use of push-up grips.
Target muscles: Large pectoral muscle
More about our push-up grips!
Pull-ups are just as easy to perform as push-ups and have the effect of strengthening the upper back. All you need for this exercise is an object to pull yourself up on (ideally a pull-up bar). If you are not yet able to do a pull-up, it is worthwhile to use a pull-up band.
Main muscles used: broad back muscle, lower fibers of the hood muscle, large and small rhomboid muscle, large round muscle.
Rowing with the fitness band
If you don't have a pull-up bar or similar available, rowing with the fitness band is a good alternative to strengthen your back. In the gym, the movement is performed on a cable pulley or with a barbell. However, rowing with a theraband is also very effective!
Target muscles: broad back muscle, hood muscle, posterior part of the deltoid muscle, large and small rhomboid muscle, lower back muscle
Dips – training without equipment for advanced users
Dips are also a very widespread exercise in bodybuilding; you can see them in every gym. This is not least due to their high training effectiveness. However, you should only include this exercise in your training plan when you are a bit more advanced, i.e., not still at the beginning of your bodyweight training career. The reason: this workout without equipment requires strong triceps and a lot of strength to perform the movement correctly on the chair or similar. You can perform dips with a dip bar, with gymnastic rings, or even with parallettes.
Muscles used: triceps, pectoralis major, anterior part of the deltoid, cartilage muscle.
Squats for a firm buttock
With squats, you address, among other things, your leg muscles and your lower back muscles. The exercise prepares you perfectly for all everyday movements, such as picking up an object or standing up from a sitting position; your hips become more flexible and existing back pain can disappear.
Target muscles: quadruple thigh muscle, leg biceps, gluteus maximus
Training without equipment – lunges
The lunge step is also known as the lunge. Just like squats, this exercise is great for toning the legs and butt. In addition to the gluteus maximus and leg extensor, lunges also address the leg flexor.
Primary muscles used: gluteus maximus, hamstring quads
A supreme discipline called Burpees
Burpees are, so to speak, THE multifunctional exercise in training without equipment - they address the upper and lower body equally. Moreover, this exercise is suitable for building your endurance. Note that the Burpees are a technically very demanding exercise - the combination of several movement sequences requires good coordination as well as good body control!
Main muscles required: gluteus maximus, quad hamstring, leg biceps, pectoralis maximus.
On the way to a six-pack – crunches
Crunches or hanging crunches (see above) are, along with sit-ups, THE classic way to strengthen the abdominal muscles. Compared to the latter, crunches have the advantage of not putting so much stress on the spine. The exercise is popular with beginners and advanced exercisers alike, and although the straight abdominal muscle always contracts as a whole muscle, it seems, at least in theory, that the exercise puts a little more strain on the upper part of the muscle.
Target muscles: straight abdominal muscle, pyramidal muscle.
Do the mountain climber!
The mountain climber is, similar to the burpees, a good exercise for a total body workout. It uses the leg muscles in particular but pulls in various other muscles to perform the exercise. In addition to the strength component, mountain climbers also demand quite a bit from your endurance. You can do mountain climbers either directly with your hands on the floor, or with the aid of parallettes.
Primary muscles used: leg biceps, quad hamstring, gluteus maximus, straight abdominous.
To our Parallettes!
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General tips for your workout
- The goal when training without equipment should be to continually improve – preferably from session to session. However, many approach the movements (too) hesitantly and cautiously. Even though they are confident in the correct execution. Often the reason for this – especially among women – is that they fear too much muscle growth. But you don't need to be afraid of this! Rather, perform a few more repetitions and always push your limits!
- Variation is one of the most important principles, whether you train with or without equipment. If you always perform the same exercises, it is not only boring in the long run but also ineffective! Your body gets used to the loads; it always needs new stimuli to adapt to them in the form of muscle growth and improved performance.
- In concrete terms, this means that you need to change the exercises for the respective target muscles every now and then. In addition, it may be worthwhile to combine training without equipment with classic strength training.
- As already explained, you should give complex exercises priority over isolation exercises. That way, you'll make your workout as functional and effective as possible. Example: While triceps extensions work almost exclusively the arm extensor, push-ups challenge both the triceps and your chest and shoulder muscles.
- The more muscles involved in the movements, the more calories you burn. If your overall goal is weight loss, you should challenge all major muscle groups in every workout session (in the form of a full-body workout). A so-called split workout, on the other hand, during which only certain areas of the body are worked at any given time, is suitable for advanced athletes.
Tips for the sequence
The easiest way to organize your workout without equipment is a so-called circuit training. Perform all exercises one after the other (there should always be a break of about 10 seconds in between) until the targeted muscles are tired and/or you can no longer perform the movement cleanly. Repeat the circuit three times in a row, resting 30 seconds between each circuit. Work your way from the large to the small muscle groups in each circuit, i.e., train in this order:
- legs, butt
- back or chest
- chest or back
It's your turn!
Now you are ready to do your individual workout without equipment! Use the tips from this article to make your workouts as effective as possible. We wish you a lot of fun and good stamina!