4 Bodyweight Alternatives to Gym Exercises

Although the coronavirus has caused a global pandemic in the world today, many people are still looking to get stronger and build muscle without the use of gym equipment. In reality, all your body needs to get stronger is resistance, and your body cannot tell whether that resistance is coming from an external load, or your own bodyweight. Generally, you need to complete around six to twelve reps per each set in order to gain muscle and strength. Today we are going through five exercises that are implemented into almost any standard strength and muscle building routine, and show you how to train similar movement patterns with just your body weight. 


Bench Press to Push-Ups

A very common misconception with push-ups is that it is only a beginner-level exercise. However, that couldn’t be more opposite of the truth. There are so many different variations of push-ups that you can do to increase the difficulty. Perform the push-ups with your hands on a low straight bar, or your entire body on parallel bars to increase the range of motion in the movements. Additionally, you can switch your grip to a supinated, wide, or close grip position to work more on the different pushing muscles in your upper body. Other harder variations include archer push-ups, explosive push-ups, one-handed pushups, weighted pushups, and even planche push-ups. There are so many more push-up variations, but this list is a small example of several ways you can stay in that strength and muscle building rep range without needing to use a barbell.


Weighted Pull Downs to Pull-Ups


Another very common exercise amongst weightlifters is some variation of a heavy pull down. The idea being that lifting heavy will get the best contraction in the back to make the muscles grow. However, the back is composed of many different muscles, so the most effective training would be to utilize all of those back muscles in a single exercise. That's why mastering a strict full range of motion pull-ups are going to be one of the best exercises for your back. Not only will this work every pulling muscle in your body, but it will also reveal any weak spots in your kinetic chain. For example, if you find the very bottom range of motion in the pull up is the most difficult for you, this means that your scapulas are not strong enough to go from a passive hang to an active one.


Shoulder Press to Dips / Handstand Push-Ups


Vertical pressing is a staple in most weightlifting routines. But again, what is the point of being able to press some heavy dumbbells if you cannot press up your bodyweight? Dips are a great exercise to incorporate into your pushing routines to develop functional strength and to also reveal any weak spots. I tend to find that people who cannot perform this exercise often do not have enough scapula strength to keep their shoulders depressed. If that is the case, two exercises I recommend mastering are bench dips and scapula dips. (Tutorials coming soon)

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if dips are too easy for you then I would suggest training handstand pushups. A freestanding handstand push up requires an enormous amount of vertical pushing strength and is a great way to also build your core. Another great option would be to regress handstand push-ups to the wall, just make sure you are keeping correct form, no arching in your back or kipping with your legs *cough* cross-fitters *cough


Barbell Squat to Deep Squat / Pistol Squat

Squatting is a primal movement pattern that humans have been doing forever! Unfortunately, injuries and joint pain are a very common occurrence when it comes to squatting in the gym. Oftentimes, we find that people who are getting hurt from doing this exercise do not have enough hip mobility or hamstring flexibility to do it correctly. Over time, inadequate mobility or flexibility will put an excess strain in areas of our bodies that we don’t want, resulting in pain or injury. It is important that you are able to squat all the way down with a flat back and your heel grounded before adding extra resistance to this movement. Once you get comfortable with a deep bodyweight squat, you can challenge yourself by training for the pistol squat, aka the one-legged bodyweight squat. This movement will challenge your leg strength, stability, and mobility as well. 


by Gavin Maxwell

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