Most dieters today assume they need expensive gym memberships, fancy running shoes, or restrictive eating plans to get in shape. But before that stuff was invented, people had to exercise using only their bodyweight.
Throughout history, bodyweight exercises have been a consistent component in military training regimes. And largely due to its inexpensive and convenient nature, bodyweight training has stuck around because it works. Outside of an armed forces setting, bodyweight exercises are used to train athletes, and have once again becoming a staple of many of the best fat burning and muscle building workouts available, anywhere.
Here are 5 of the best bodyweight exercises to help you burn fat in as little time as possible:
1. Jumping Jacks I know what you’re probably thinking, “Aren’t jumping jacks a little basic?”Well, yes and no. They’re basic in so far as they’re a simple exercise, and you probably did them in pre-school, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t effective.
Jumping jacks can help you burn fat and get fitter, but the real reason I put them at the top of the list is because they’re a great way to warm up. Performing them before your workouts or other bodyweight exercises will help prepare your body for exercise, making your workout more effective and increasing your fat burn.
2. Push-Ups Push-ups are one of the best upper body exercises in existence, hands down (pun intended!). Even with access to a barbell and dumbbells, I often opt for the good, old-fashioned push-up instead. That’s because they’re convenient (no waiting around for a machine to free up), they develop a great deal of strength, and they are arguably safer for the shoulders than many weight-bearing exercises. Plus, there are a ton of variations to make them more difficult.
The problem is, people don’t always do them properly. Here’s how to do them right:
- Keep your head, neck, torso, and hips in a straight line. (It helps to brace your abs.)
- Keep your elbows close to your body—don’t let them flare out.
- Lower yourself down, and then push back up in a controlled movement.
- If a regular push-up is too difficult, do them against a wall to begin with. Using the same form as above, stand facing a wall, place your hands against the wall in front of you and push back and forth. Over time, do this on lower surfaces (such as a sturdy table or chair), until you are eventually ready to do a regular push-up from the floor.
3. Squats Squats are often hailed as the king of exercise moves.That’s because they involve a lot of muscles, which in turn means they burn a lot of calories. You learned to walk by squatting, but as natural this movement is, you might have forgotten how to do it. Here’s what you need to get started:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your heels planted, lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Pause, and quickly stand back up again.
4. Burpees Burpees are an awesome, calorie-torching, strength-building, full-body exercise. They’re also hard work, so it’s important you master your form and ease yourself in. Just follow these simple steps:
- First, get into a squat position (as above).
- At the bottom of the squat, reach your hands out and onto the floor in front of you.
- Kick your feet back into a push up position.
- Return your feet to the squat position as fast as possible.
- Immediately jump up into the air as high as you can.
- Squat back down and repeat!
The great thing about burpees is that they are a high-intensity exercise. This means that not only will you burn calories at the time, but they will ramp up your metabolism so much that you’ll be burning additional calories throughout the rest of the day.
5. Jumping Rope Jumping rope is one of my all-time favorite exercises.It’s the only exercise on this list that requires some equipment, but a rope is so cheap I think I can get away with it. Similarly to jumping jacks, jumping rope is a great way to warm up, but the great thing about it is that it can easily be made more difficult. If you continually push yourself to get quicker, do it for longer, or learn new techniques, you can ensure that it never becomes too easy.
Keeping the intensity high is a sure-fire way to burn loads of calories and melt fat fast!
These are my go-to exercises when I’m traveling or can’t make it to the gym. What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!
Will Owen is known for helping every one from backpackers to businessmen stay healthy on the road. He has been featured on a number of websites as an expert bridging the gap between travel and fitness. You can stay up to date with him by visiting Travel Strong, or following him on Google+ or Twitter.