There are many reasons that it can be a drag on your regular routine to try to make it to the gym.
Gyms can for many be a source of intimidation, awkward social encounters, and routine exercises that may quickly become boring and monotonous.
On top of that, going to the gym takes time and often requires a commute.
Working out at a gym has a certain outfit and hygiene requirement. Also, if your free time has the same open windows as the majority of people in your town or city, you could be facing a busy gym that has wait times for the equipment.
Sure, there are other options that you can do while you wait, but isn’t it the equipment that you’re paying for when you sign up?
These workouts easily fit into a busy schedule, since you can do them at home or while traveling. They require very little setup or equipment, as well. This allows you to focus on the part of working out that really matters: moving your body in a way that promotes a healthy lifestyle and increases your physical abilities.
No-gym workouts are a massive category of cardio, aerobic, and calisthenic exercises that allow for strength development and fat-burning outside of the gym.
In most cases, you will be using your own body weight and gravity to build muscle and get your heart pumping. These workouts come in many varieties from yoga and pilates, to body-weight training, interval and circuit training, and outdoor exploration sports and activities.
No-gym workouts make the most of your time in order to make workout consistency more attainable. Additionally, many find these exercises outside of the gym to be more motivating than exercises done inside of the gym. This can make it easier to stick to your exercise routine.
There are many benefits to getting some exercise, even if your lifestyle choices mean that you don’t set foot inside a gym.
Whether it’s bodyweight training or a consistent cardio routine, frequent physical activity plays a huge part in achieving weight and wellness goals.
Regular physical activity of about thirty minutes a day can offer an abundance of quality of life benefits. With no-gym workouts, those thirty minutes remain just that, thirty dedicated minutes without commuting or waiting in line.
Exercising has innumerable physical benefits that allow for a longer, stronger life.
Many people begin working out to lose weight, build strength, and to tone their body. In other words, improved appearance and self-esteem are a big draw to exercise. Nonetheless, those who regularly exercise will also experience greater health on a daily basis.
Those who exercise regularly may experience the following physical effects:
Busy lives give us one excuse for not hitting the gym, since we never want to sacrifice friendship for fitness.
While expensive gym plans can make gym visits a more exclusive way to burn calories, no-gym methods can actually help your social life.
Many no-gym fitness venues can be group activities to help build a community or share something you enjoy with family and friends. Outdoor sports and physical hobbies, such as jogging, cycling, dancing, or hiking are all great ways to meet people who share your interests.
When we said that regular exercise can improve all facets of your life, we really meant it.
Regular exercise has shown career improvements, including increased productivity, a better appearance, and an improved ability to cope with work stress and pressures.
Cutting out the gym and getting a quality workout on your own time and in your own way can make it much easier to integrate your exercise priorities with your work priorities. Many workouts can be done during a work break, quickly in the morning before work, or in the odd times between other daily activities.
Using a timer will help you fit your workout into your day so that it doesn’t run too long.
Not only will this keep your workout from running over into your other engagements, but it also manipulates your perception of how long the workout takes.
The free-form routine of home workouts can sometimes make it difficult to form a habit.
You may not remember what circuit you did yesterday, what times or intervals work for you, and it can feel like a lot of trouble to keep this all in your memory.
Fitness apps, particularly those that cater to body-weight exercise or home exercise, can help you track which days you exercise, how long your exercise for, and what movements you perform.
The data analysis will then help you to see your general patterns so you can fine tune your routines and get the most out of your no-gym workouts.
If you’re trying to fit a quick workout into a tight time-slot, it’s best to come prepared.
This can mean different things for different routines.
Some people might keep a change of clothes, such as jogging or yoga or sweatpants and a t-shirt in their car or at work. For others, it might mean having a space in the home that remains clear and tidy to use for working out.
Preparation and ease of access will help your consistency and greatly improve the convenience factor when it comes to exercising outside the gym.
Best For: Those suffering from joint pain or rehabilitating from an injury. Exercising in all environments, including urban, residential, and rural.
It’s easy to take the health benefits of walking for granted. After all, it’s one of the slowest and least complicated exercise activities available. However, taking a brisk walk every day can help you to maintain a healthy weight and improve your physical condition.
As a low-impact cardio option, walking is good for those who might have trouble with their joints. Additionally, walking can be easily incorporated into a daily routine, as part of a morning commute, as an unwinding activity, or as a way to bond with pets or family members.
Robert Sallis, family physician and sports medicine doctor, explains that
“Walking is the most studied form of exercise, and multiple studies have proven that it’s the best thing we can do to improve our overall health, and increase our longevity and functional years.”
When walking for fitness, it’s important to pay attention to your posture and stride. The best walking posture is to look forward, as opposed to down at your feet. The neck and shoulders should be relaxed, and it’s just fine if you find that you’re naturally pumping your arms.
Best For: Those who are looking for a fast-paced cardio outlet that also increases coordination.
Kickboxing offers a high energy, high motivation fitness routine that combines martial arts with cardio and a total body workout. Kickboxing is a powerful stress reducer and an emotional outlet. Kickboxers can empty themselves of negative emotions while also experiencing endorphins that are associated with positive feelings.
One of the biggest benefits of kickboxing and shadow boxing is improved coordination, physical awareness, reflexes, and balance. This is achieved through core strengthening and martial arts training for physical awareness. Fitness kickboxing offers muscle-toning benefits, which allows participants to burn around 800 calories an hour.
Shadow boxing is kick-box training without a punching bag. This is an equipment-free cardio and fat-loss drill that can be done anywhere. Shadowboxing can be the main show, or it can help to get you warmed up for for a longer workout.
The emphasis, in this case, is coordination and balance, as the boxer stays on their toes, prioritizing mobility, speed, and power. Shadow-boxing drills are fast-paced, allowing for higher reps than would be possible with the resistance of a punching bag. The lack of resistance also develops greater physical endurance. The calorie burn of shadow boxing is similar to jogging at about 400 calories an hour.
Shadowboxing can be practiced as a high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Despite intuitive notions about the impact of boxing and martial arts, shadow boxing has little to no impact on your body. This is because it limits the amount of jumping, landing on your joints, and sprinting that many HIIT exercises heavily feature.
Best for: Low impact cardio with an easy learning curve that satisfies the adventurous spirit.
Many put cycling among the most fun forms of physical exercise. Bicycles allow people to zip between places. There are many places where cycling is an accepted method of commuting to work for its environmental sustainability, financial, and health benefits. Cycling’s ability to improve lung health isn’t limited to physical exercise. People who ride a bike to work are exposed to five times less air pollution than those who drive cars.
Additionally, cycling is great for outings, spending time with friends and family, and outdoor adventure exploration. This is because cycling is relatively easy and does not require a lot of training before individuals are able to take longer rides and reap the benefits.
Cycling does have its difficult levels, however, and you can find paths at every intensity. It’s also important to observe bicycling safety and laws, particularly for commuters and adventurers. Bicycle lanes and hand signals are important for those riding in urban environments, and helmets and safety equipment can greatly reduce the risk of dangerous falls or crashes for all cyclists.
Cycling offers a relatively low impact cardio option that causes less joint strain and injury than many other forms of exercise. It also uses all the major muscles groups. While it is a leg-heavy workout, it offers full-body muscle strengthening. It also increases stamina and aerobic fitness, allowing the body to work harder for longer. On top of that, cycling is an enjoyable activity that improves mental health.
Best for: Groups or families looking to spend time outside. Photographers.
While hiking can be done by a solo hobbyist, it’s a great activity for families, groups, and pets to get outside and enjoy nature while also getting a full body workout. Hiking is a physical activity that can be done outside the gym, often using minimal equipment, that also offers a powerful boost to mental health.
Hikes can be as strenuous and as beneficial as you choose them to be. Since most hikes are defined by their changes in elevation, you can frequently identify and choose the difficulty level of a hike based on how many feet of elevation will be gained throughout the hike.
Hiking helps to improve overall fitness by building muscle and endurance while burning calories. Hiking targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, lower legs, and hip muscles. Since hiking requires balance and stabilization, it is able to strengthen the core. Hiking with a backpack offers a boost to strengthening as well.
Best for: Calisthenics and social exercising.
Exercise and calisthenic parks offer many of the same benefits of going to the gym for those interested in bodyweight training. These parks often provide the equipment needed to get your body moving while remaining eco-friendly and giving you some vitamin D from being outside. Some common equipment in exercise parks include:
Exercising around others can be a source of inspiration for new circuits, since it allows the opportunity to watch how others structure their workout and observe proper form. Working out alongside others can help to hold you accountable while offering other examples to help you to improve your mastery of physical skills. In this case, exercise parks offer a great alternative for those who find at home workouts to not be social enough.
Exercise or fitness parks are great places to meet others who are serious about their health. Finding a buddy can help you to keep a consistent routine and give you a partner to enjoy some of the more social parts of exercising.
Best for: Those who climb a lot of floors throughout the day, or those who live in an apartment or condo with staircases available for training.
Taking the stairs, especially as part of your morning commute, can offer you plenty of benefits, including kickstarting your metabolism right at the beginning of the day. While this may feel like an inconvenience in the morning, it pays off in stimulating your brain and circulation. These benefits will allow you to be a quick-thinking and social creature as soon as you step into the office.
Staircases are also a potentially great training tool, that makes it easy to start a planned or impromptu workout. Running up and down the stairs can be a useful way to structure an interval workout. A thirty-second run up and down the stairs could be followed a period of squats, lunges, or crunches.
Using staircases can also be a good way to rehabilitate after an injury. Climbing the stairs strengthens the same muscles required for lunges and squats. Additionally, it helps to improve balance while getting your blood pumping for cardio gains.
Best for: Low impact, therapeutic cardio and the ability to promote strong breathing endurance.
Swimming can aid training for any sport that you can think of. Swimming laps builds strength, exercises the heart, and increases endurance. It is particularly powerful for sculpting muscles in the back, shoulder, and arms. Additionally, swimming can be a long-term therapeutic practice that allows one to rest their mind while swimming.
Swimming and aqua jogging are particularly used by runners who need a low-impact way to train for running or to recover from a previous running injury. Pool running, or aqua jogging, is a very high resistance cardio activity that forces you to focus on running posture while mimicking the movements and patterns of traditional running so as to train running-specific muscles.
Best for: A cardio option that is fast, fun, very portable, and increases coordination and balance.
Not just for children, jumping rope can be an amazing warmup to get the blood pumping for a longer strength or bodyweight workout. It can be a nice way to exhaust the body and get some energy out in situations where you need to stay stationary or don’t have a lot of space to run around.
Jumping rope can get you more cardio exercise per half-hour than jogging, allowing you to burn around 650 calories per half hour. That means getting the opportunity to maximize not only your space but also your time. Furthermore, the equipment for this is minimal, it can be kept in a car, work locker, or even the bag that you carry on your commute. Then, all you need is a flat surface for jumping on.
Jumping rope improves balance and coordination to make you lighter on your feet. In the long term, jumping rope enhances spatial awareness, memory alertness, and breathing efficiency. It can also decrease the likelihood of gaining foot and ankle injuries from other sports, such as tennis or basketball, by strengthening the muscles surrounding your ankles.
Best for: Dynamic high-intensity training that allows for expressive physical movement, cardio gains, and a full body workout.
Battle ropes provide a high-intensity workout that moves the muscles and pumps the heart. Just ten minutes of using battle ropes can constitute an average 30-minute cardio workout. In addition to that, moving these ropes feature full body strength training. Battle ropes are commonly whipped, slammed, dragged, and waved.
Unlike other forms of weight training, battle ropes are dynamic. This allows the participant to change their movements and become more easily aware of when they are exercising correctly. Battle ropes offer freedom of movement that’s unusual for strength training equipment that you might find at the gym, such as free weights and weight machines. While they can be used simultaneously, battle ropes work each arm independently. This can help to even out strength between dominant limbs.
For those who have a lot of room to train, such as a long driveway, large garage, or personal studio with limited equipment, battle ropes can be a fun and intense way burn fat and build muscle, while toning the arms, back, and abs. They come in a variety of lengths and weights.
Best for: Individuals who need a consistent routine, and those who can endure higher impact cardio exercises.
In many ways, running is the poster child for cardio exercise. Many find that reputation to be for a good reason. Taking thirty-minute runs throughout the week can help to prevent a number of conditions, from obesity to high blood pressure. Running helps to build the muscles around the knees and other joints to protect them. In some cases, it can exacerbate pre-existing osteoarthritis and knee arthritis, and those who feel joint pain while running should take it easy on themselves and see a doctor.
David Felson of Boston University explained to NPR
“We know from many long-term studies that running doesn’t appear to cause much damage to the knees. When we look at people with knee arthritis, we don’t find much of a previous history of running, and when we look at runners and follow them over time, we don’t find that their risk of developing osteoarthritis is any more than expected.”
Running rewards and requires consistency in a way that many other cardio exercises don’t. The more regularly you run, the easier it becomes, and the more likely you are to crave your running time (who knows you might even build up to running a marathon one day). Additionally, the regularity increases the length and frequency of afterburn, that time after exercising when your body continues to burn calories from excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
Running also has a positive effect on mental health for those coping with depressive or anxiety symptoms and can help you to live longer.
Best for: Music lovers, and those who need an expressive physical outlet.
Dancing is a cardio and, in many cases, a strength-building activity that allows individuals to express themselves physically in a wide array of styles. Some styles take enormous amounts of discipline, such as ballet and barre, or swing and ballroom styles, making these great for someone who prefers a little structure in their exercise routines and lofty goals to work toward.
Dancing ultimately offers a strong emotional outlet in addition to the opportunity to obtain peak physical condition through a skill development.
Best for: Those who are adventurous, goal-driven, or who want to take their body-weight training up a notch.
Since climbers need to lift themselves up on ledges and semi-sheer rock faces, this is the ultimate body-weight training. Climbing is a full body strength workout that gets your heart pumping as much as a stable cardio exercise would. However, keep in mind that both climbing and indoor climbing require a lot of specific equipment and training to keep you safe and protect from falling injuries. Free-climbing is heavily regulated in most areas and only recommended for climbers in peak condition with years of experience.
One of the things that sets climbing apart is that it is experientially rewarding. Climbers get a view that others can only see in pictures. Like hikers who get to see everything you can’t see from the road, the rewards of climbing are more than the heady enjoyment of strategizing and using your body constantly adapt to accomplish an intense task. They are also the most likely to see sights that aren’t visible from the road or lower elevation trails.
Climbing is a demanding sport that one must stay in shape for. One of the best ways to do this is to practice indoor climbing on a wall or at a climbing gym. Climbing is a powerful way to train with goal setting and definitive accomplishments and benchmarks, so while it takes a lot of equipment, it can be a very rewarding no-weight way to gain strength and tone the body.
Best for: The socially fit, for whom being among others is the impetus they need for enjoying exercise and living fun.
Sometimes it takes a whole team and a weekly commitment to get us to break the busy work cycle and get out and about. Recreational sports offer just that divergent moment where we get to socialize and exercise our bodies at the same time. This can be hugely beneficial as a disruptor of an overly sedentary routine. At the same time, it may help individuals to develop a community of people with whom to move and play, feel the endorphins, and have some fun.
You can look for recreational and community sports leagues offered through your local city or town, community parks, churches, sports-oriented gyms, or off-season sporting complexes.
No weight workouts use personal body-weight to strength train. This can be as simple as planks, pull-ups, and basic calisthenics. However, the training cycles of no-weight workouts are flexible and can be used with resistance cardio, such as uphill running, dancing, kick-boxing, and other no-gym workouts.
No-weight workouts frequently feature a mixture of calisthenics, intervals, cycles, strength training, and stretching. They will frequently share elements between themselves, so that staple strength and toning exercises, such as push-ups or planks can be used in high-intensity training as well as circuit training or yoga routines.
Calisthenics are classic exercises that use your own body weight for resistance training. This allows you to build muscles mass and strength without using weights, machines, or in many cases equipment at all. Most of the exercises common to a calisthenics circuit are recognizable for basic education, such as pull-ups and chin-ups, planks, burpees, squats, lunges, crunches, and even jumping rope. Calisthenics limit the need for expensive equipment and even free weights in many cases, allowing exercise to prioritize how you move your body and at what intensity.
While many have been doing calisthenics since they were young, there are levels of mastery to obtain. One of the major goals of calisthenics is to have control and deliberation over lifting and moving the body. This can be expressed in terms of endurance, ease, and increased resistance or weight that relies on fewer muscle groups for lifting. Calisthenics are more likely to build a lean physique than weight training, and it’s more difficult with calisthenics to isolate specific muscle groups to build.
More than other strength training, such as weight lifting, Calisthenics training helps participants build and maintain good form. The use of machines or free weights to target specific muscle groups can lead to overcompensation from other parts of the body when the resistance is too high for the targeted muscle. Calisthenics and bodyweight training, however, decrease this likelihood, since they offer a more stabilized workout and the individual body-weight as a starter number for lifting.
So what happens when your body weight isn’t enough for your advanced training regimen? Weighted vests can help you up the ante when lifting your own muscles becomes too easy. This is one of the best ways to intensify your body-weight exercise routine. Weighted vests range from 10 to 150 pounds. The vest distributes the weight across the torso in a way that allows you to continue your workouts and advanced calisthenics without impeding your movement. The additional weight helps to add resistance and strength training features to any routine. Additionally, as long as you don’t mind the extra weight in your gym bag or luggage, they can offer a portable solution for on-the-go calisthenics.
Interval training refers to alternating periods of high-intensity work with periods of active rest. Interval training provides its benefits via the intensity with which individuals perform their exercises. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) requires participants to give their intense all-out effort in quick bursts of exercise, punctuated with short recovery periods in between. For HIIT, the intensity is taken up to the max , and the rest times are shortened.
HIIT is both strength training and cardio. The quick transition between intervals does not give your heart rate time to slow down or leave the fat-burning zone. At the same time, the workout creates an oxygen shortage that increases the length of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), and therefore the length of time your body continues to burn calories after working out.
While HIIT is a powerful tool to keep yourself in peak condition, it’s not recommended as your only form of exercise. HIIT is not the best for teaching or learning body-weight techniques, such as squats, burpees, planks, pushups, and other core body-weight exercise requirements. Since HIIT asks participants to do these moves at turbo speed, it’s best to already know the techniques before getting into HIIT. HIIT works best as part of a more well-rounded fitness system that allows time for restoring the body, developing flexibility, and recovering.
Circuit training is a form of endurance or resistance training that works to build muscle, strength, and endurance through completing a number of circuits in repetition. This means alternating between five to ten activities in quick succession. Individual exercises usually last between 30 seconds and five minutes. After the circuit is completed, it begins again at the first activity.
As you switch tasks while circuit training, the muscles that you previously worked will rest, allowing you to work different muscles with little downtime. Limiting the rest in between exercises allows circuit training to also work as a powerful cardio exercise. Circuit training works the body until the point of fatigue, or in other words, when the body cannot do another rep of an exercise. Fatigue is a sign that the body is building and improving muscular strength and definition.
Circuit training builds strength by individually targeting different parts of the body. Different circuits will work the arms and upper body, core, lower body and legs, or the entire body at once. While many circuits can be made of only body-weight moves, other circuits can use dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, and other equipment associated with weight training.
To begin circuit training, it’s in your best interest to consult a trainer. Or other resources that will help you define your first workouts and designate your muscle target groups. This is because circuit training can be exhaustive and even body-weight exercises can cause long-term damage when not practiced with correct form.
Circuit training can be an appealing option for someone who prefers an organized or predetermined routine. Or someone who has personally designed their workout. Circuits also allow you to vary your exercise from day to day. This is not only done by varying the muscle groups, but also by varying the exercises in a circuit and pattern of the routine.
Yoga is a physical practice tied to Hindu spiritual beliefs that seek to strengthen the connection between the mind and the body in preparation for meditation. It is ideal for binding the mind to the body, but on top of that it is a powerful bodyweight exercise which uses poses to intersperse stretching and mobility training with strength building.
Yoga can be practiced on its own or as a part of a physical exercise or workout regimen. It can be particularly good for recovery, as it allows runners, weight lifters, cyclists, and other athletes to settle into stretches and long poses that offer long term flexibility and relief. Another great tool for recovery is a handheld massager!
Yogic practices can target specific parts of the body, or specific spiritual feelings or chakras. The rhythms of yoga are necessarily tied to mindful breathing, which can help to train individuals to manage their breath, in a way that can reduce stress and help athletes to breathe more easily throughout their practices.
Yoga offers long term benefits for posture, mobility, flexibility, and alignment. The difficulty of a yoga session can vary, from very beginner poses that build strength gradually, to advanced yoga sessions using more advanced poses. This builds strength through intense flows and poses that support the body in inventive ways.
The meditative aspect allows one to finish a practice with a clear mind that is perfect for starting and ending the day. Aside from a mat, yoga practices also require very little equipment. Straps and foam blocks can sometimes be used as auxiliary equipment. Yoga practices can be done anywhere that the participant has space for a mat and can achieve focus.
It is a bodyweight movement method that focuses on careful mental control, alignment, breathing, and repetition. Pilates benefits include strengthening the core, improved posture, and full body alignment. Eight weeks of pilates practice improves abdominal endurance, flexibility, and balance. While doing pilates on a mat gives you the most flexible about when or where you workout, pilates classes can also be conducted on a reformer that helps to target and isolate strength building in particular muscles.
It works several muscle groups throughout each session and can be a powerful tool to lean and tone those muscles while also gaining flexibility and mobility. Many pilates classes also focus on breathing, similar to yoga, and can teach participants breathing coping techniques for when the body works at its max capacity.
Pilates is not frequently practiced alone or daily. Instead, it works best as part of a well-rounded strength and fitness plan. When used with other exercises, pilates is a way to tone muscle groups and increase mobility and flexibility throughout the body. Since pilates combines a different moveset from other body-weight exercises, it can help to add variety into a routine and provide much-needed core strengthening.
P90x stands for Power 90 Extreme, a home fitness program by Beachbody. This is a ninety day home fitness and wellness regimen that helps participants develop a lean, ripped body and maintain longer-term fitness. The ninety-day aspect of this fitness plan is important for creating habits and reaching goals. Workouts include resistance and body-weight training, cardio, plyometrics and ab exercises, martial arts, and yoga.
The P90x also works alongside a low-carb nutrition plan to help participants keep in shape and a fitness calendar for tracking progress, plotting out time to exercise, and setting goals. The nutrition plan is not recommended for long term health and should be used sparingly, since it is not clinically proven for optimal health.
The p90x is better for individuals who are already somewhat in shape and can perform more strenuous exercise. Essentially the p90x workouts are based on circuit training. The plan targets a specific part of the body each day, including the chest, back, shoulders, arms, and biceps, and legs.
While the P90x requires working out each day of the week for about one to one-and-a-half hours of vigorous training, each muscle group has downtime based on how the individual rotates the DVD workouts. Each workout heavily features plyometrics, kickboxing, cardio, core training and ab exercises, yoga, and stretching. Due to the great amount of variation in the p90x’s long workouts, its system works based off of “muscle confusion”, where the workout schedule is so varied that the body does not fully adapt to it.
Ido Portal is a trainer who has refined the art of movement. With Movement Culture, fitness and health connect via performance, art, and aesthetics. Movement Culture seeks to distill the most powerful parts of traditional physical disciplines while shedding unhelpful dogmas.
The Ido Portal method was developed from traditional martial arts and fighting styles. The idea is to push the limits of what the human body is capable of. This method brings together its martial arts roots with dance, yoga, athletics, gymnastics, and acrobatics. The art of movement is more freeform than other weight training and exercise methods. It can include lifestyle considerations, philosophy, and discussion among other participants of Movement Culture.
Important movements to the method include balancing, imitating animal movements, sparring, expression, exploration, and improvisation.
Ultimately, there are a variety of ways to get fit outside of the gym, many of which add different flavors and levels of excitement to your routine, keeping it from becoming stale or monotonous. Most methods of working out outside of the gym will require using your bodyweight to train each of your muscle groups. Once you start doing this, cardio and calorie-burn naturally follow. The key here is persistence and consistency, as well as finding an activity that you personally enjoy.