You don’t always need a gym or the latest equipment to have an effective workout. I first started getting into bodyweight workouts when I was travelling; I didn’t have access to a gym most of the time, but wanted to stay in shape and continue to build strength. I explored different workouts, trying to target different muscle groups using only a mat. This opened up a whole new window of opportunity for me, and now I love adding bodyweight workouts to my fitness regime.
Apart from the convenience of being able to do bodyweight workouts just about anywhere, there are many additional benefits: (1) Help build and maintain lean muscle mass, (2) Increased strength and flexibility, (3) Increase resting metabolic rate, (4) Help with injury prevention and recovery (5) Reduce joint and bone pain and (6) Helps with building a strong metabolism.
Bodyweight workouts allow you to concentrate on how your body is performing the exercise and to focus on proper form. Also, you can challenge yourself to sink deeper into exercises, engaging your stabilizer muscles or holding the exercise longer to increase strength. It also gives you the opportunity to target certain areas that you feel you need toning or greater strength, especially smaller muscle groups that are often missed by weight training exercises, such as your gluteus minimus/medium, lower back, hip ab/adductors, inner thighs, etc.
Here is an effective bodyweight core workout that targets your abs, glutes and thighs. Complete 3 sets of the following. If you want a little more resistance, you can always add a mini-band or resistance band/tube to the workout.
Glute Kick-Backs – 3 sets of 15 (each leg)
Start kneeling on the floor with your arms extended in front out you. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart. Lift your right leg until your hamstrings are in line with your back. Contract your glutes while lifting your leg and focus on holding the contraction throughout the exercise. Lower your leg and place your knee on the ground. Complete the same for your left leg.
Glute Bridge – 3 sets of 20
Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your arms by your side with palms facing the ground, they will act as stability. Lift your hips on off the ground forming a line with your knees, hips and shoulder. Focus on contracting your glute muscles as you lift your hips. Hold the bridge position for 3 seconds and then lower your body back to the ground.
Crunch Pulse – 45 seconds
Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your arms slightly off the ground. Raise your back slighting off of the ground making sure that you contract your core, using your stomach muscles to hold your back off of the ground. Lift your body slightly higher, squeezing your core muscles as you lift. Return back to your original position without letting your back touch the ground. Continue to pulse for 45 seconds.
C-Crunches – 3 sets of 25
Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your feet off the floor keeping your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Lift your back off the ground, contracting your core to lift your body. Bring your elbows to touch your knees. Extend your body back to starting position and perform the action again.
Side Leg Lifts – 3 sets of 25 each leg
Lay on one side of your body using your arm closest to the floor as stability. You can also extend your arm straight above your head and shoulders if that is more comfortable. Your legs should be extended so your body makes a straight line and stacked on top of each other. Slowly raise your top leg as high as you can, engaging your glutes and quads to perform the movement.
Inner Thigh Leg Lifts – 3 sets of 25 each leg
Lay on one side with your top leg folded over your bottom leg bent at a 90-degree angle. Position your hip so your pelvis is level. Your waist should pull away from the floor a little. Lift your bottom leg keeping the leg as straight as possible. Lower the leg back down without touching the floor. Continue to do the exercise on the other side.
Plank – Hold 60 seconds
Plant your hands directly under your shoulders, slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Dig your toes into the floor and squeeze your glutes and core to stabilize your body. Neutralize your neck and spine but having a point of concentration on the floor, creating a line from your head to your ankles. Hold the position maintaining control over your form.
Side Plank – Hold 30 seconds each side
Start on your side with feet together and one forearm bent providing stability placed directly below your shoulder. Contract your core muscles and lift your hips off the ground, forming a line from your head to your feet. Concentrate on keeping the line straight as possible while holding this exercise.
Supermans – 3 sets of 15
Start by laying on your stomach with your arm above your head and your legs extended straight. At the same time raise your arms, chest and legs off the floor squeezing your lower back and glute muscles to perform the movement. Hold for 2 seconds and release. Repeat this movement.
Bicycle – 3 sets of 20 each side
Laying flat on the floor with your lower back pressed into the ground with your hands behind your head. Bend one of your legs, bringing your knee into your chest. While doing this movement, move your opposite arm so your elbow is almost touching your knee. Extend the bent leg back out straight and switch sides, completing the same motion but with the other leg/arm.