Work out without a gym

Gary Matthews

Consumers are cutting back on expensive discretionary leisure spend, of which membership to a health and fitness club is high on the list. However, at a time when more people are looking to keep, and stay, fit, more may choose to opt do it themselves when it comes to fitness aids. We know that using free weights and machines is the fastest and most efficient way there is to improve your metabolism and strength, but for many reasons these may not be convenient or readily accessible to you.

You may also have no access to a commercial or home gym. But there can be a solution: A strength-training workout without the need of expensive machines.

As with any exercise, whether you are using your own body weight, machines or free weights, if the resistance doesn't increase, your muscles won't be worked to their maximum capacity and the stimulus these fibres need to grow will be missing.

Exercises done correctly outside the gym will build lean muscle and increase your metabolism without time constraints and financial cost.

These exercises can be easily done in a bedroom, hotel room, park, school yard, from ceiling rafters in a garage or in a doorway. All you have to do is use your imagination. There will always be a way to add more resistance to your workouts.

Please remember: It doesn't matter where you are working out - always warm up properly before beginning your session, and cool down and stretch when you are finished.

Leg Exercises


They build muscle in the thighs, shape the buttocks and improve endurance. Position your feet about 13 to 17 inches apart or at shoulder width, keeping the back straight and your head up. If you want you can use something that will give you support, i.e. a desk, bookcase, sink, etc.

Now squat down to where the tops of the thighs are parallel to the floor, hold for a second and then stand up, but don't bounce at the bottom of the movement. Use a nice, fluid motion. Always exhale as you stand up.


Stand straight in correct posture; now stand with one leg forward and one leg back, king your abdominal muscles tight and chest up. Lower your upper body, bending your leg (don't step out too far).

You should have about 1 to 2 feet between your feet at this stage. The further forward you step, the more your gluteus and hamstring muscles will have to work.

Do not allow your knee to go forward beyond your toes as you come down and stop where your feel comfortable (try not to let your back come forward), then push directly back up. Do all your reps on one leg then switch legs and do all your reps on the other leg.

Back Exercises


Chin-ups are a great upper-body workout, particularly targeting your biceps, deltoid and lat muscles. Use a doorway chin-up bar, ceiling rafters in a garage or grab the mouding of your door frame, position your hands with an underhand grip and hang down stretching the lats, slowly raise your body until your chin reaches the bar level.

Pause a moment before slowly lowering yourself back to the starting position. Don't swing or use momentum to get your body to the top, just use the target muscles. Chinning bars can be removed from doorways when you are not using them - they can be put up and taken down in seconds.

Bent Over Row:

Take up a position with your right hand and right knee braced on a sturdy bed or some other flat surface that will provide a good support. Now pick up a dumbbell or something heavy that you can hold onto with your left hand.

Visualize your arms as hooks and slowly bring the dumbbell or object up to the side of your chest, keeping your back straight. Then lower the weight back down to arms length.

Concentrate on your back muscles. Reverse the whole procedure and do the exercise now with your right arm.

Chest Exercises


The push-up is used for building chest, shoulders and arms. Lie face down on the floor with your hands about shoulder-width apart and keeping your palms turned slightly inward. Now push up until your arms are straight, lower and repeat for repetitions.

To make it more difficult elevate your feet. Try placing the toes of your feet on a stable, elevated surface such as a bench, chair or a stair. Straightening your body, position your hands on the floor at shoulder width, lower your body until your chest touches the floor at the bottom, and then return to the starting position in a nice, fluid motion.


This exercise can be done between two sturdy chairs or other surfaces that provide stability. The dip is another great upper-body exercise. It's a compound movement as well, and involves working all the muscles the push-up works.

Keep your head up and body as vertical as possible. For the beginning of the movement, start at the top (arms fully extended) and lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the seat of the chairs, hold and then push up to the top of the movement until your arms are fully extended again. Keep looking straight ahead and don't bounce at the bottom of the movement.

Adding Weight

Although the simple weight of your own body is enough resistance to provide an effective workout, we need progressive overload (added resistance) to become stronger.

So all we need to do is add some weight wherever we can find some. It doesn’t matter that there are no metal plates and fancy machines to use, because the body doesn't care as long as it's receiving resistance of some kind.

You can use heavy books clasped in your hands. You can buy cheap weighted dumbbells or ankle weights. A weighted vest will also allow you to add resistance for both chin-ups and push-ups. Try to buy one that will let you remove and add weight as you see fit. Also, a backpack filled with books can be perfect for most of the exercises and is a cheap alternative.

How about a couple of 2-litre bottles and fill them with some water or sand? As you get stronger fill them with more water or sand. This is perfect because depending on the exercise, all you need to do is increase or decrease the amount of water in the bottles for the required amount of resistance.

Free weights and machines are fast and efficient, but you'll find these alternative exercises can provide you with the same benefits. So save your money.

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