Life is super busy for most of us. Work, family, and social events just take up so much time!
Which usually leaves too little time for 4 gym sessions a week. That’s why bodyweight training has been taken to a new level lately.
Here’s the thing…
Bodyweight only workouts are incredibly effective if done right because you can work every muscle in your body and get an insane cardio workout at the same time.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at how to get toned with home workouts without any equipment.
Use your body correctly to maximise muscle use
Just because you aren’t lifting weights doesn’t mean you can switch off and watch TV while you workout.
To truly maximise the effectiveness of your workout, you must focus all of your attention on the moves.
We want to be 100% conscious of how and why we are moving in the way we do. Whether it’s a squat or a push-up, your mind needs to be focused on contracting the right muscles at the right time.
Try this at home…
If you’re standing, sitting or lying down while reading this notice how relaxed your muscles are. You could probably (will probably?!) stay there for hours at a time.
Now tense every muscle in your body. See how long you can hold it before you get out of breath. 30 seconds, 1 minute?
That’s what we want to do when we move when exercising.
This is the secret…
When you train for maximum muscle usage, which burns the most energy and leads to toned muscles, you want to tense your muscles as much as you can.
This is very different from training for efficiency, like when running 10km. In this case, we want to be as efficient as possible.
When we are looking to lose fat and lift well, we need to ensure all our muscles are working properly, which means they are tensed and engaged.
Use single-leg movements to make it harder
Some people think that bodyweight exercises don’t build muscle. I can assure you that they do.
Just try to do a single leg squat. You can hold only the sofa or a wall as you do it. 90% of people will not be able to do it. Not even 1 repetition.
That shows you that by doing single-leg movements our muscles will have to grow stronger to handle the load.
How you can do it…
It’s simple and called a pistol squat. Check out this video from Men’s Health to learn how to do it.
Not only is it a good act of strength, but it also requires you to work on some mobility movements in order to loosen up and tight areas in your body.
And talking of pistols, let’s now talk explosive…
Explosive movements develop strength and power
Power is a combination of speed and strength. So jumping squats require speed to move you fast enough to get off the ground and enough strength to get you moving that fast in the first place.
When you train with a mixture of slow and controlled movements, which build strength, and some explosive movements, which build speed, you hit the sweet spot for muscle growth and tone.
Just look at a sprinter. They are muscular, toned and very powerful.
So, how do we do it?
Most movements can be made explosive. Think jumping squats, clap press-ups and tuck jumps.
These movements are hard if you’re not used to them so be careful. Build up gradually.
Make sure to get the movement learned properly first and then build up to a more explosive style of moving.
HIIT vs circuit training
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has become a staple part of the fitness world. Circuit training has been in the mainstream for longer, but what’s the difference?
Most people will use the terms interchangeably, but there are definite differences.
With circuit training, you will go from one station to the next, which are always different movements. There is usually little to no rest between moves.
With HIIT, you usually do the same thing (running, cycling, burpees, etc) for a set period of incredibly high intensity followed by rest. Then repeat.
So, which is better?
It really depends on your goal. For variety and a mix of moves and muscles to work, circuit training is a good choice.
If you want to really work your cardio system intensively, go for HIIT.
You can easily do HIIT training at home. Just think bodyweight moves like burpees, jumping lunges, squats, etc.
Why mix HIIT and resistance based training for maximum effect
If you’re after an athletic, toned look a combination of explosive movements in HIIT combined with some slower, more muscular developing moves are going to be best.
You can target both with bodyweight only, but having access to a gym is going to help you a lot with the resistance-based moves.
An article By Robert Jackson is the owner of PT Pod, independent personal training and massage studio in London. He also created his own personal training business called Minimal FiT, based in Canary Wharf where he helps time poor office workers get back to fitness.