If you are wanting to start exercising, one of the best ways to get into it is starting with bodyweight exercises.
They can be done at home, require no equipment and are very approachable.
It’s much easier to start exercising with bodyweight exercises, rather than committing to a new gym membership and trying to go every day.
Instead, you can just start off with some simple exercises at home.
And if you learn how to adapt them, they can take you from all the way from a beginner to a strong and lean exerciser.
They work for you
If you think you can’t manage to do a press-up, there is always an easier variation so you can still practice.
If you think squats are too easy and aren’t working your muscles enough, you can make them harder.
The point being, these bodyweight exercises work for you.
There is no excuse to not do them.
You can make them harder or easier to suit you.
At some point, you may need to add weight to make it harder, but for now, there are enough exercises and variations to work your whole body and support your progress.
It’s all about leverage
Adapting your exercises to you is all to do with leverage.
Increasing and decreasing the leverage is going to alter the intensity of each exercise.
I’ll show you some examples of some essential bodyweight exercises which you can do at home and keep at your own level.
This is a classic move to work the chest, shoulders, triceps (bingo wings) and core.
Yet a full press-up can be quite hard and not a lot of people have the strength to do one on their hands and feet.
So instead, start at the very beginning.
An easier variation would be to start on your knees.
If you still struggle with that, you can either lean against a wall, stool or chair so there is less of your bodyweight on your hands.
To then make it harder, you need to move more of the bodyweight onto your hands.
You can do this, when on your knees, by moving your knees further from your arms.
But make sure to keep your shoulders over your wrists.
The further your knees are from your hands, the more weight that will be on your arms, making the press-ups harder.
Once you have progressed enough, you will then be able to start doing full press-ups.
Again, if these are too hard, you can do them on a higher object so the amount of weight on your arms is reduced.
If you find a full press-up too easy, you can start adding weights or doing them on one arm and progress in the same way as a normal press-up.
Obviously, this is more advanced but shows how adaptable and useful bodyweight exercises can be.
Squats are a very useful exercise for building the leg muscles and burning fat.
They use the large muscles around the legs and bum which means they burn more calories because they are working a large portion of the body.
Most people will have no problem at all doing a basic squat.
However, if you do, you can limit the range of motion (don’t squat as deep) and hold onto something to help you keep your balance.
To make a squat harder, the easiest way is to add more weight.
Grab a dumbbell, heavy object or even a child and squat with them.
The more weight, the harder it makes the squat.
You can also go deeper into the squat to increase the difficulty.
Also, like the press up, doing squats on one leg will instantly make the exercise a lot more difficult, however, this could be something you need to build up to.
Again, with a one-legged squat, start off doing a shallower squat and hold onto something for balance and progress from there.
How to make any bodyweight exercise harder
As I showed you above with the two basic exercises, you can easily change and adapt bodyweight exercises to make them harder.
Here are a few ways you can adapt an exercise when you want to make it harder, or if you are just wanting to train differently.
We used most of these variations in the above two examples, but they can be applied to almost any exercise.
Make it explosive
If you are wanting to increase the intensity, make the exercise explosive.
It usually means you speed up the movement, use more power and try to leave the ground in some way.
These explosive exercises will tire you out much sooner than their standard variation and can help develop extra power compared to standard exercises.
Remove a limb
Now don’t be going for an axe, we don’t really want to remove a limb.
Instead, just try not using one of your arms or legs.
This makes press-ups and squats much harder.
It also makes lunges harder (split squats) and you can do step ups which use only one leg too.
Any exercise can be made more difficult by just using one side to do the movement.
Now, this is the exact opposite of the first way of making bodyweight exercises explosive, yet it’s a great one to practice.
Try doing 10 press-ups.
Then try doing 10 taking 4 seconds on the way down.
Trust me, it’s much harder.
Taking a longer time to complete the exercise means your muscles are spending more time under tension.
Which means they are working for a longer amount of time.
You can challenge your muscles this way and see how different it is to move slowly instead of pushing out lots of reps.
Bodyweight Exercises at home
Now you know how to alter and adapt bodyweight exercises to make them work for you, there is no reason you can’t start doing them now.
They require no equipment and minimal room.
You can even do them in front of the TV.
And since you now know how to make them easier or harder, you can make progress through performing these exercises and getting stronger.
It doesn’t take much time or effort to just do 10 press-ups every day.
But after a week, I bet they feel easier which means you have gotten stronger.
So get started now and the changes will come soon.