In this weeks article I will be going through different means of starting or getting back into training using minimal equipment and that should allow you to train anywhere and at anytime. If I were trying to get a client or athlete in their best shape I'd always want the use of a gym. Barbells, dumbbells and weights machine will allow me to train the person to their potential and generate results in the quickest possible time.
However, a lot of people don't like gyms as they can be intimidating, unfulfilling and often very expensive.
One method of training that is very popular at the moment is bootcamp training. All you have to do is walk through any park in London in the morning to see how much demand there is for them.
They are usually very cheap, ran locally and create a community, which people thrive on. Bootcamps can be very effective and will often get great results with beginners.
My issue with the typical bootcamp is the program design used, as it is often very unbalanced, with a huge emphasis on quad training (burpees, squats, squat jumps) and very little posterior chain work (hamstrings, glute and back).
For a short period of time this overuse of a certain muscle group can be fine, but longer term it will likely bring about flexibility issues and can increase risk of injury.
Below is a simple routine for a beginner to try. I've tried to keep the program structurally balanced with quad, hamstring, chest, back, abs and lower back exercises in there. This should help improve posture and decrease any chance of injury.
It is using just bodyweight exercises so you can do this in a park or your own home.
The one piece of equipment I'd recommend buying is a chin-up bar for the house or most parks tend to have these. Chin-ups utilise the upper back muscles, which can be quite difficult to recruit without resistance.
Each week you are aiming to increase the sets you do.
So week 1 is 4 sets then by week 4 you'll be doing 7 sets.
This means there is constant progression and the difficulty increases. If you have dumbbells then this is a great way to increase the resistance making the exercises harder and thus making you stronger.
I'd recommend doing this for 4-6 weeks then changing the program.
|A1. Alternating Lunges||60||4-8||10|
|A.2 1 legged lying hip extension||30 each leg||4-8||10|
|A.3 Hands Shoulder width press ups||60||10|
|A4. Low bar bodyweight row (or hiogh bar, jump and lower yourself chin-up)||60/30||10|
|A5. Side Plank||30 secs each side||4-8||10|
|A6. Front Plank||60||4-8||10|
|A7. Static hold at top glute bridge||60||4-8||60|
This workout will work well either doing it by yourself or even better in a group.
There are 7 different exercises done in a circuit style fashion all timed for 60 seconds, so you could have up to 7 people doing it at once.
For ease, use a timer on a watch to beep on every 60 secs. Do one exercise, rest for 10 seconds and move into the next. Once you've completed the full 7 exercises you rest for 60 seconds.
Most parks should have bars to do chin ups or rows from. If there is a low bar, place yourself underneath it, legs outstretched on your heels and focus on pulling your chest up to the bar.
If there is only a high chin up bar then try and jump up to the top position and try to lower yourself on a slow count of 30 seconds (go to 60 seconds if you can or do standard chin ups for reps if strong enough)
Another fantastic method of training I use to great effect with clients and one that can be performed almost anywhere, is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This is also known as anaerobic training.
Anaerobic training over conventional steady state aerobic (cardio) training has a number of advantages.
After completing anaerobic interval training studies have shown that Excess Post Oxygen Consumption levels (EPOC) can be raised for a significantly longer period of time compared to aerobic training.
A lot is dependent on the individuals’ physiological make-up but EPOC levels can be raised for 24-72 hours compared to 4-6 hours. This basically means that your body burns calories at a higher rate for a longer period of time. This should generate results in a shorter space of time.
HIIT workouts are often much shorter than a typical cardio workout. One of the main reasons people don't stick to a workout plan is due to lack of time, or being too busy. Because you train at such a high intensity with these workouts, the sessions rarely last over 30 minutes which even for someone with a very busy schedule should be able to find the time for 2-3 sessions per week
With the time frame reduced on workouts comes the decrease in stress on the joints of the body.
One of my main issues with long, steady state cardio is the impact on joint health.
If someone is using jogging as their main form of training their ankle, knee and hip joint health can be massively impaired from the repetitive nature of the movement and the stress of the impact.
Whilst jogging, food strike is usually around four times the persons bodyweight. If the person does not have a healthy joint the amount of steps taken in say a average 45 minute run will contribute to damaging the joint further.
Something I mentioned in the previous Nutrition article I wrote is Metabolic Flexibility. This is basically the body's ability to switch from using fat as a source of fuel at rest to using stored sugars in the muscle (this is called glycogen) when exercising.
HIIT is very effective at making the body switch between these two energy sources. The main energy source used during anaerobic style training is Glycogen.
Depleting these stores within the muscle forces the body to break down stored fat into sugar to use as energy, this is called Gluconeogenesis. The more fat stores broken down for energy the leaner the individual should get.
HIIT can be easily modified to the persons ability or body type.
With a complete beginner to exercise I'd recommend using a non impact method of interval equipment such as a bike or rowing machine.
With these bits of equipment it's very easy to get the client working hard and monitoring their progress using the digital reader, which would show their distance covered, repetitions per minute and level of resistance.
Here is an example program:
When using the bike on the sprint interval try and keep the RPM between 60-80.
You will need to adjust the resistance level accordingly. On the rest portion, keep the legs moving but take the resistance level down. The key thing is to go as hard as possible on the sprint. If using a rowing machine, males should be aiming to kept the split time under 1:40 and females under 2:00.
A more advanced method of HIIT would be to use sprints.
Sprints can be done anywhere but I'd always recommend to do them on grass or a running track when possible, as running on the pavement or Tarmac will put more stress on the joints.
Another form of sprints would be to run up stairs or do hill sprints, both brutally effective in dropping body fat. With Stairs there can be more of a safety issue so I would go for hill sprints when possible.
This a example sprint program. Only do this is you have a base level of conditioning.
When doing a sprint program, make sure you do a slightly more extended warm up than you would normally do.
Sprinting is very taxing on the body so dynamic stretches and multiple warm up sets of sprints, where you increase intensity, should prepare you for the workout.
Again make sure you go max intensity for the sprint then simple walk as recovery. It's very common in this style of training to feel nauseous. This is from the lactic acid build up in the body.
As with any exercise program make sure you do a suitable warm up of active stretches and warm up sets of the exercise you are about to do and a simple cool down.
The exercises and equipment used can be modified to suit your needs, I just wanted to give specific examples for you to use.
If doing the circuit workout, you could do that 2-3 times per week on non consecutive days. Another option would be to do that 1-2 times and the beginner interval plan 1-2 times.
For the sprints I'd aim to do that a maximum of 2-3 times a week on consecutive days.
I hope you find them beneficial! Let me know how you get on...