With gyms still closed across the nation, it’s looking like we might be stuck without their plethora of equipment for at least a little bit longer. In the past several weeks of being without any major fitness equipment, I’ve been forced to use my creativity to come up with exercise alternatives that will most closely substitute for their equipment analogues. Put simply, my focus was on finding out which body weight exercises and modifications would get the best results. This article is going to outline my findings and hopefully will prove helpful in your home workouts!
1. the bulgarian split squat
If you didn’t already guess, the BSS is a great body weight substitute for the squat. The BSS is the less stable cousin of the lunge, but allows for more resistance through the front leg. Move the front leg forward to integrate more of the glutes, or more it backward to focus more of the quads. The key is to take each set to near failure, which means you might need to crank out a ton of reps if you never skip a leg day. Get really good at the BSS, and you’ll absolutely see a difference in your barbell back squat when you get back into the gym.
2. The Extended-Range Push Up
This push up variation can be done from books, dumbbells, yoga blocks, or step stools. Push-ups have been the popular go-to since gyms have closed as they really are a great exercise for the core, chest, shoulders, and arms. By adding the slight incline, we can train a greater range of motion that is going to be much more comparable to a barbell bench press. Adding these blocks will also make the exercise slightly more challenging, so it won’t take a ton of reps before these get you to failure.
3. The Suspension row
Take a couple bed sheets or belts and close them in the top of a door and you have a homemade TRX trainer to use for suspension rows. The row movement is a crucial one to include right now during these sedentary times to try to reverse the forward-rolled posture that we may be developing. Seated and bent-over rows train the major muscles of the back (trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi) as well as the biceps. This bodyweight substitute will certainly get the job done and help maintain balance between the chest and back musculature.
4. The Glute bridge
The glute bridge makes a decent bodyweight substitute for training the hinging movement. We are training the glutes and the hamstrings together during this exercise. If you’ve been training for some time now, you’ll probably find that it takes a lot of reps of these to get fatigued. In that case, try straightening one leg and use the other to bridge your hips upward. Switch legs and then follow up with a set using both legs for an pre-exhausted superset. In any case, remember to squeeze your low back flat to the ground before bridging the hips upward. A hip thrust with the upper back leaning against a couch is a more complex alternative if floor bridges don’t seem to be working well.
5. The plank
Finally, I had to include the classic plank in my list of bodyweight exercises that will get you the best results. This exercise is a super popular one because it does such a great job of conditioning the abdominal muscles. Though primarily a core stability exercise, the plank challenges muscles all throughout the body if it’s being done correctly. A key cue to keep in mind when planking is to squeeze the belly button toward the spine, while keeping the tail tucked (hips posteriorly tilted). It’s okay to allow the back to round upward, but do not allow an arch to form indicating the low back is sagging downward. Maintain your breathing throughout, and aim to start with short holds if you’re new to the plank.
Of course, the exercises I’ve listed above may not be suitable for all individuals, so please exercise good judgement before attempting any of them. If you are unsure if you are performing these correctly, or want further assistance in your training program, check out my training page for more information! Thank you for reading, and please share this article if you found it helpful!