I want to show you how you can train if you’re not a fan of the gym or if you don’t have access to a gym with everything that’s going on. Just because you’re not in a gym doesn’t mean that you can’t get a decent workout in. You don’t have to get fat and give up on fitness just because you don’t have access to a gym facility.
I’ve reached out to the top fitness expert to see what their top bodyweight/non-gym workouts were so that you have plenty of ideas to work with.
I wanted to find the best bodyweight exercises for those who can’t train at a gym these days but still want to get into amazing shape.
[Update for December 2020: Years after originally publishing this article, it turned out that gyms would shut down and we would all have no choice but to find creative ways to work out (unless you’re one of those jerks with a full home gym).]
You can get into your best shape ever without a fancy weight room. You may even get better workouts on your own than you would in a traditional gym.
Most of us suck at the gym for one of the following reasons:
- We hate the gym environment.
- We just don’t want to spend the money on a membership.
- We prefer to workout at home.
- We want to work out while travelling.
- We don’t have the time to always make it to the gym.
In 2020, we also learned that gyms could be shut down on us. Gym closures left many fitness enthusiasts stuck on what to do to get a decent workout in. We had to scramble to buy any weights we could find. 10lb dumbbells were going for a fortune. You had to be rich to even get a kettlebell with some weight on it.
We had to figure out how to get a decent home workout in without many tools. I even found myself using paint cans and a shower rod to get a workout in.
Guess what? You don’t need a gym!
I guarantee you that you can get into amazing shape without stepping foot inside of a gym. You’ll have plenty of ideas for your next workout in the backyard, living room, or park after reading this article.
What did the experts have to say about the best home workouts?
I took a break from the gym in 2008. I was tired of the environment and I had a lot going on in my life. I wanted to see what I could do on my own. So I looked everywhere for answers.
I reached out to a few fitness experts to see what they had to say about bodyweight training. I’m always trying to learn more about training methods. I’m sure that you also want to get into shape even when your gym’s closed.
James Clear of James Clear:
“I love kettlebells, but my favorite body weight exercise is sprints. Usually between 200 meters and 400 meters.”
Sprints are key. I throw in hill sprints to work on my conditioning. I suggest loading up your phone with tunes and finding a hill near you. I usually do hill sprints until I can’t go any more.
Jon-Erik of JK Conditioning:
“My favourite exercise to tax the entire body, including the cardiorespiratory system, would have to be the burpee. My favourite at home workout is 100 burpees in the shortest time possible.”
In wrestling training, we had to do many burpees and I always dreaded it. The best thing about burpees is that you only need a floor. You can do them anywhere that you are.
Tony of Tony Gentilcore:
“Push-Up – hands down.
It’s an excellent assessment tool, as it will give me information with regards to ‘core delay,’ which a less fancy way of saying how much control they have in the lumbo-pelvic-hip area.
Many guys (and to some extent female trainees as well) will poo-poo on push-ups deeming them too wimpy, and honestly: it’s a rare event when I see someone doing them correctly, let alone for ten clean repetitions. There are a million and one ways to make them more challenging, so even if they are ‘easy,’ it’s a very versatile exercise that can be done anywhere with no equipment. Win-win.
Also, unlike their much more popular counterpart – the bench press – which is an open chain movement and thus the shoulder blades are glued to the bench and can’t move, because push-ups are a closed chain movement (distal portion of the body – the hands – do not move) they’re a much more ‘shoulder friendly’ push variation (again, assuming they’re done correctly and without making my eyes bleed). As such, this allows for the scapulae to move which is another win in my book.”
I can’t argue with this. If regular push-ups get boring, you can always switch them with one of the many variations out there (incline, decline, clapping, triangle, weighted, and so on).
“Gotta go with body-weight squats and pull-ups!”
JC Deen of JCD Fitness, the first fitness blog that I ever followed:
“A ton of chinups supersetted with band resisted pushups.”
As you can see, you can squeeze in a workout without a gym. I know that it’s not the same, but it beats doing nothing and getting out of shape when you can’t access the gym. Your living room is fine. You can take a break from video games and Netflix (or do it at the same time) to get your training in.
What tools do you need to workout without a gym?
How can you workout from home? What do you need for a decent home workout?
In the perfect world, you would have a full home-gym setup with a separate space and possibly an outdoor sauna that’s attached to your own private lake for cold plunges.
In reality, we have to make do with a limited budget and limited space.
Here’s a list of recommended tools to invest in for your home workouts:
- A kettlebell or two. I have a 35lb and a 45lb bell.
- Some resistance bands.
- Any weights that you can find to add some resistance to your training. Try to find some dumbbells if possible.
- Some creative tools. I used water buckets, paint cans, bags filled with canned goods, and whatever structure I could find to do pull-ups.
- Whatever you can put together. If you can buy a pull-up bar then get one, if you can get some ankle weights, then get them. The goal is to get anything that you can to help you work out during these strange times.
With all of that being said, you can still workout with minimal equipment. You can do bodyweight circuits and such. These tools are just suggestions to give you variety when you’re training from home.
What are some common ways to get in shape without the gym?
“How am I supposed to get in shape without a gym?”
There are two things that you should know here:
- You have to take your nutrition seriously. Losing fat or putting on muscle will come down to your calories and how much food you eat.
- You can focus on advanced bodyweight training like pull-ups, one-legged squats, and push up variations.
You don’t have to be in a formal “gym” to workout. Nobody’s stopping you from busting out 50 pushups at the office or 100 bodyweight squats on break.
There are all sorts of home-based training programs out there as well. Everyone has heard of the mass-marketed ones like P90X and Insanity.
Do home-based workouts actually do anything?
The truth is that any workout gets you moving is a great one. Any movement beats laying on the couch and putting off training.
If you’re looking to get in shape or try something new, then you can download, watch or buy any program. It doesn’t matter which one you choose. All that matters is that you DO IT. There are all kinds of free sessions being offered on Instagram Live.
What are my go-to bodyweight exercises?
The worst part about home workouts is that it feels like you have to a million reps to get a decent pump or to feel anything.
The exercises that I love to perform are:
- Jump squats.
- Pushups and the many variations.
- Pull-ups (wide grip).
- Kettlebell Swings.
If you’re looking for something more advanced, this video should help you out…
For some more ideas, you should check out the following blogs…
Top 20 Bodyweight Exercises for Building Muscle @ Renegade Rules.
50 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do Anywhere @ Greatist.
Kettlebell Rebels is about treating the world as your gym. A bell is just one of the tools that we use. We’re also going to use the couch, the park, the floor, and anything else.
What workout will you try first? Where will you perform these exercises?