If you are an Online Entrepreneur, or really if you have any job that requires tedious amounts of hours working - having time to take proper care of your body is often an issue.
I am by no means against having a gym membership, that's great if you actually use it and are happy spending time socializing with others (not that you have to).
What bothers me about gym memberships, is that most people who have them, rarely if ever, actually take use of it.
The Prestige Factor
Sure it sounds pretty cool to say "I'm a member of FitnessXXXX".
It also might look pretty nice to flash your membership card when opening your card holder (e.g. when paying for a sandwich in company with your friends).
But the reality is, that there's no reason to show off something that withdraws money from your account every month, without you benefiting from it.
Home Training 101
There are dozens of ways to get an excellent home-workout.
I'm personally a big proponent of Body Weight Training also known as "Calisthenics".
What most body weight exercises have in common, is that they require zero or very little equipment to perform.
In fact the only thing you really need in order to get a complete body workout at home, is a Pull up bar.
The Power of Pull-ups
Most gym rats are able to crank out a handful of pull ups, however most people spend the majority of their time training their back with dumbbells, barbels, or machines.
There's nothing wrong with that if you are a Bodybuilder and need to focus on training specific muscle groups.
However if your main goal (which let's be honest is the case for most) is general & functional strength (strength that can actually be used outside the gym, to make your life easier) nothing beats bodyweight Pull-ups.
Pull-ups target your entire back, Lattissimus Dorsi, Trapezius, Teres Major, the Abdominals, Erector Spinae, and all the supporting muscle groups.
What makes pull-ups so effective, is that it's the most natural way to train your back, the way it was supposed to be used.
There are many variations of pull-ups, which all puts emphasis on different muscles in your body.
- Supinated pull-ups - palms facing you
This technique puts extra emphasize on your biceps, and the closer your grip, the longer ROM (range of motion) and more weight is lifted by your biceps.
If you use a medium to wide grip, you will put more pressure on your lats & Trapezius muscles.
- Pronated pull-ups - palms away from you
This technique puts much more emphasis on your forearms (the Brachioradialis) and is generally much tougher to perform than supinated pull-ups.
- Wide Vs. Close Grip
This is an ever on going debate, which is better?
Well wide-grip is the toughest one to perform, so one might argue that if you master it, you will become stronger than when doing close-grip.
The problem is that when using a wide grip, you are putting a lot of unnecessary strain on your shoulders, especially the rotator cuff (almost all shoulder injuries are connected to the rotator cuff).
With close-grip, you have a greater mechanical leverage, which makes you much less prone to get injuries.
You also get a longer ROM when doing close grips.
So which is better? Neither, but start with close grip, and work yourself out to shoulder width. Whether you want to go wider than that, depends entirely on your goals, but I wouldn't recommend it for beginners, or if you have a history of shoulder injuries.
The ultimate Chest, Triceps, and Anterior Deltoid (shoulder) exercise.
The best thing about them, is that you can perform them everywhere. At the hotel, at work, out side in nature, everywhere!
There are literally hundreds of different push-up variations, but I recommend that you start out with regular ones and then work your way up to more advanced variations.
- Kneeling Pushups:
If you can't perform regular Push ups, doing them from a kneeling position, this is by far the easiest way for beginners to start building pushing strength. It is also great for preventing injuries.
- Incline Push ups:
Also for beginners who have not developed enough strength, this is a great way to close the gap before moving on to regular push ups!
- Diamond Push ups
Hands close together with an 45 degree inverted angle. This one puts enormous stress on your triceps, and much less on your pectorals (chest). Beware that it can be tough on your elbow joints, especially if you are a bit overweight. Definitely not a beginner exercise, but extremely effective for building your triceps.
- Decline push ups:
Regular push ups, but with feet elevated on a chair / couch. This shifts your body weight over to your upper body, making the push-ups harder, the bigger the decline.
- Explosive Clap Push ups:
Rapidly push off the floor and clap your hands together before you go down (warning, this is only for advanced trainees)
- Uneven Push ups:
One hand on a medicine ball / soccer ball, and one on the floor. Great for training your stabilizing muscles, and your core (abdominals & obliques).
- One-arm Push ups:
Self-explanatory, the ultimate badass movement, don't even attempt this as a beginner. If you master it, you will be in a group among less than 0.1% of the population. The only exercise harder than this, is the One-arm Pull up!
The Bodyweight Squat
Bodyweight squat is obviously great for building leg strength, but it comes with many other benefits.
Hip problems is a problem for many people, either due to bad positioning in front of the desk, the bed, genetics, or something else.
Squats come in many variations, and what most have in common is that they are excellent to increase your hip-flexibility, and strengthening your knee and angle joints.
Here are some different types of Squats
The Goblet Squat:
Stand with a wide stand, feet pointing outwards at a 45 degree angle.
Squat down with your hands clasped together in front of your chest and the elbows pointing out.
When at the bottom, make sure that your elbows are pushing out your knees.
Stand still for a couple of seconds, and Squat up again, that's one rep.
This exercise is excellent to prevent and treat hip injuries and also lower back problems.
Often these injuries happen due to bad flexibility. Performing Goblet Squat, will enhance your flexibility and strengthen your inner thighs and glutes!
This is a bit tougher to perform, as it requires more balance.
Stand with your feet close together (1 hands space between) with your feet pointing out at 45 degrees.
Squat down as far as you can without bending your lower back, hold for a couple of seconds, and squat back up.
Close squats put much more pressure on your Quadriceps (anterior part of your leg) than wide squats (like the Goblet) and is excellent to strengthen the muscle tissue around the knee caps, which will ultimately help you against knee pain & injuries.
This is especially useful for overweight people who often have knee problems from walking stairs or running.
Body Weight Lunges
Step forward with one leg and squat down till your other leg's knee touches the floor and squat back up. Then switch legs.
This exercise requires a good deal of balance, but is great to counter problems that are caused exactly due to im-balance.
So if you have hip pain, this movement can be a great treatment, since you can target both sides of your body individually.
Hanging Leg Raise
This might sound like a leg exercise, but it really is an incredible, very underused abs exercise that targets your whole body.
Place your pull up bar at the top of your door and start with just hanging there.
If you are out of shape, just hanging will be a workout in itself.
Once you are ready, slowly start to tuck your knees up to your chest, and slowly lower them down again. That's one rep.
Trust me, doing just 5 sets of 5 reps of this exercise, will kill your stomach the following day (that's a good thing).
Eventually you will want to move up to doing Leg Raises with your legs completely straightened out, which is very tough to do, but fantastic for ab strength.
As an added benefit, you will build some serious forearm gripping strength by doing these!
As for rep schemes
I always recommend my clients the following:
- For Hypertrophy and Endurance: do 3 - 5 sets of 10 - 12 reps with a tempo of 303 (3 seconds up, 3 seconds down)
- For Hypertrophy and Strength: Do 5 - 6 sets of 5 reps with a tempo of 303
- For Pure Strength: do 6 - 10 sets of 1 - 3 reps with a tempo of 303
- For Explosive Strength: do 5 - 10 sets of 1-3 reps with a tempo of 101
All 3 schemes will add muscle to your frame, the longer TUT (time under tension) the more hypertrophy (muscle growth will occur), but remember if you want to get big, you gotta eat big as well. Training is only a part of the equation!
If you want improved conditioning, only take 30 to 60 second rests between sets.
If you want to get stronger, take 2 - 3 minute rests (5, if you are performing strenuous exercises like one-arm push ups)
Obviously you can't get away with 30 second rest intervals for tough exercises, the tougher the exercise, the more rest needed and vice verca.
It is important that if you want cardiovascular benefit from training, you need to push yourself and take shorter breaks, but if strength is your main goal, you can take longer breaks and therefore do tougher movements!
For anyone interested in Body Weight Training, I recommend the book "Convict Conditioning" by Paul 'Coach' Wade.
It's the ultimate bodyweight exercise bible, that deals with many of the movements I described, just in much greater detail.
It's the book that convinced me to quit weight training, not because I don't like weights, but because body weight is so much convenient for my busy schedule.
Good luck with your training, and remember that just because you train body weight, it doesn't mean that you can't combine it with weight training.
In fact it's even better because you can get the best of both worlds.
But for convenience, nothing beats advantages of body weight training aka Calisthenics!
If you have any questions, just ask, I will answer as fast as I can :)