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Bodyweight Exerice Routine

Dec. 18, 2019
Me at the Bocas de Ceniza in 2015

Many people dismiss bodyweight exercises as too easy or too boring. Usually those people think only of pushups and lunges and leave it at that. Well, that’s just not the case. The number of bodyweight exercises is just about countless, and you can probably think of variations of your own.

One of the nice things about bodyweight exercises is you are not limited to the gym. You can do them anywhere – at home, at your workplace, in a hotel room, at the beach, in a park.

Back in September, I started exercising again. I do my workout here in my apartment. For weights, I use jugs of water. I have 6-liter jugs, which when full, weigh 13 pounds each. Well, 6 liters of water weighs 13.2 pounds, the exact amount for my bottles might be slightly higher because the bottles are filled almost to the top. I have two bottles hanging from each end of a broomstick, so the 4 bottles combine for about 53 pounds. In the chart I call this a 4-jugs barbell.

Numerous people have asked me about my own exercise routine – do I actually do bodyweight exercises? Yes. I’m going to show you my routine with details of where I started and how I’ve progressed. I’m showing this so you have an idea, an example, of what actually works, and this routine works for me. You will want to start with an easier routine, which I will describe further down this page.

This is my routine of 11 exercises, this list is one circuit, The first two months or so I did two complete circuits, then I progressed to three circuits. I keep the break time between exercises to no more than 20 seconds, although by the third circuit these breaks do get to more than half a minute. The breaks between circuits is no more than 2 minutes.

  • Legs - Squats w/2 jugs - I started with 10 regular squats then progressed to holding a jug of water. Then progressed to 20 reps with 2 jugs. Also, these are deep squats on my heels on the edge of a step.
  • Arms - Biceps Curls - w/4 jugs I started with 10 curls with one jug in each hand, then progressed to 12 with the 4-jug barbell.
  • Core - Planks Started at 1:15, progressed to 1:30.
  • Upper Back / Shoulders - Bent Over Upper Rows w/4 Jugs Bend over forward, raise the barbell up to your chest, concentrate on squeezing your shoulder blades together. I started at 10 reps with 2 jugs, progressed to 20 reps with the 4-jug barbell.
  • Legs - Lunges w/2 jugs I started with 15 (each leg) regular forward lunges then progressed to holding one jug of water (15 reps still), then progressed to 2 jugs (15 reps still).
  • Upper Body - Pushups, Diamond Hands next to each other so you can see a diamond between your thumbs and index fingers. I started at 10 and progressed to 15.
  • Core - Abs Vs Sitting on your tailbone – legs straight out, up at about 45˚, hands above your knees – hold this V position. I started at :30 seconds and progressed to 1:30.
  • Lower Back - Bent Over Lower Rows w/4 Jugs Bend over forward, raise the barbell up to your chest, concentrate on squeezing your lower back muscles only. I started with 10 reps with 2 jugs, progressed to 20 reps with the 4-jug barbell.
  • Legs - Calf Raises Regular calf raises on the edge of a step. I started with 10 raises, then progressed to 1 jug of water, then to 20 reps with 2 jugs.
  • Upper Body - Pushups, Wide Hands wide apart, as much as comfortable. I started at 10 and progressed to 20.
  • Core - Leg Raises Lay on the floor and lift your legs, straight out and raised up to 90˚. Then lower and repeat. I started at 10 and progressed to 15.

For the beginner you might start with a short routine that looks something like this:

  • Squats (you can start with a chair, and simply sit and stand when your bottom touches the seat of the chair)
  • Pushups (you can start with your hands on the edge of a table or counter or a chair, or on the floor with your knees also on the floor)
  • Lunges (start with forward lunges, either in place, one leg after the other, or walking forward lunges if you have room to go at least 2 strides forward, then return for 2 strides, etc)
  • Planks (hold until you feel pain and absolutely cannot hold any longer, that will be your target time. Be sure to maintain a flat back, with your eyes straight forward, not looking under your belly)

When you are comfortable with that short workout, probably a month or so, add:

  • Biceps curls holding a water bottle (1 quart or 2 liter bottles to start with)
  • Pushups (regular style)
  • Leg Raises
  • Calf raises (first start by standing on the floor and raising up to your tip-toes, then repeat)

After you are comfortable with those 8 exercises you should be able to progress them by adding water bottles, or larger water bottles, or by lengthening the amount of time, or by increasing the number of repetitions. The goal is to progress you exercises over time, ever 2 to 3 weeks is a good time between each progression. With these exercises there are countless variations for adding variety and progression.

For example, the simple Biceps Curls can be done with hands close together, at the normal width, or wide apart. Same for the Pushups. Pushups have as many 30 or more variations alone. Abdominal exercises, there are too many variations to count. Leg Raises can include legs together, legs apart, hold a ball between your feet, and more.

Exericse bands/Elastic bands are excellent for adding resistance and variety, and they are quite cheap to buy. They also require no storage space in your home and can be easily taken with you anywhere you go.

Many people think they have to pay for a gym to get a worthwhile workout, but that isn’t true. You can do a very good workout in your own home or apartment with the stuff you already have – jugs of water, books, etc.

The one negative to home exercise is the lack of “energy”, the camaraderie, you might get by exercising with other people. Many people require another person, or other people, to motivate them. At home, you are typically alone, so you have to have good self-motivation.

A person can easily add more variety by using other objects or by buying some individual weights or other equipment from a sporting goods store.

Some extra equipment I recommend:

  • A floor mat, such as a yoga mat
  • Stretch (Elastic) bands with handles (great for working the rotator cuffs [shoulders], can also be used for upper arms, chest, back, and even legs, be creative)
  • Medicine ball (good for abs/core exercises)
  • Exercise (Stability) ball (the big one, most commonly used for crunches, but if not done correctly, can be more harm than help)
  • Step platform (great for calf raises and cardio stuff)
  • Foam roller (good for abs exercises)
  • Balance Ball/Bosu Ball (It’s a half-ball on a flat, hard, round base, and is great for standing on when doing upper body exercises, really helps your core and balance, and you can use it with the base on the floor, or you can flip it over and have the ball on the floor and stand on the base, that will really burn your core!)
  • Balance Disc (An alternative to the Balance Ball. It is smaller and doesn’t have the hard base. I like the Balance Ball because it is larger and more versatile)

Anything else is just icing on the cake. Such as dumb bells of various weights, barbell set, bench for flat/incline/decline chest work. There are many websites that show an unbelievable variety of bodyweight exerices. I’ve seen sites that show more than 80, and as much as 100, variations of squats, lunges, and just about any other exercise you can come up with. There is no reason why anyone should get bored with body-wieght exercises. It just requires good self-motivation.

Do you want to change your body but don’t want to use a gym with all the muscled-up guys watching you? Start with a bodyweight routine, get yourself into a good exercise routine, and watch the changes as they occur right in your own home.

Some things to consider:

  • Do NOT check your weight on the scale every day, or even every week. Once a month at the most is good. Write your weight in your workout diary/journal.
  • Do use something for external motivation – a particular dress/swimsuit or other clothing that you want to be able to wear in the not-too-distant future. Hang it up in plain site so you will see it every day. That will remind you to keep exercising.
  • Eat healthy, snack occasionally, eat junkfood rarely. Just don’t get hung up on some fad diet. They are more trouble than they’re worth. They are temporary, you should be interested in making permanent, lifestyle changes. The key is to eat good food, and proper serving sizes, and stop eating when you feel full. Eat healthy snacks. And don’t worry about a once-a-month hamburger and fries, they won’t kill everything you’ve worked for. And you won’t feel deprived.
  • You should take measurements at the beginning of your new exercise routine, and write the measurements in your workout notebook. Measure your biceps (with your arm stretched straight out to the side); your chest and waist (level with your belly button), be sure to be standing straight and tall, no slouching; your thighs and calves. It is easier to do these measurements by having another person do them to you. Then do new measurements once a month, not more often, just once a month.
  • Take photos at the beginning of your new exercise routing, preferably in a swimsuit or small workout clothes. You will want to make later photos, maybe every 2 or 3 months, for comparing and seeing the changes.
  • Keep a workout notebook. It should be a diary/journel of not just your exercises but also include your measurements, info about what you have been eating, how you’ve been feeling, how you’ve been sleeping. The more detailed you are, the more you will learn about yourself, your body, your abilities.
  • Whatever exercises you do make sure they are natural movements. For example: you’ve probably seen guys doing the overhead press (military press) with barbells lowered behind their head. DON’T DO THAT! You’ve probably seen guys doing pull-ups and they push their head in front of the bar so the bar is now behind their neck. DON’T DO THAT! Those are not natural movements and will cause more harm than good.
  • Let gravity help you with adding resistance. Think about the movement you’re about to do – is it possible to do this exercise in a way that gravity will make it more challenging? Gravity is your friend, let it help you make your exercises more interesting and more beneficial to your growth.
  • If you keep your break times minimal between exercises you can keep you heart rate elevated and gain some cardiorespiratory benefit as well. I recommend no more than 15-20 seconds between exercises, and 1 to 2 minutes maximum between circuits.
  • Always maintain proper form, always, always, always. Don’t get lazy. If you see your form is failing during an exercise stop and take a break. Proper form is extremely important for maintaining proper posture.
  • Always work all the muscle groups equally to maintain a balanced muscle structure in your body. Have you ever noticed the guys with their hands turned so you see the back of their hands when they are walking towards you? That is bad, it is not natural for human beings, but it is natural for apes. It is caused by a muscle imbalance in the deltoid muscles in the shoulders.

Here’s what it all boils down to: any exercise is better than no exercise.

Get off the couch, turn off the TV, and start doing something active and somewhat stenuous. Put you muscles to work doing something they are not used to doing. Many parks have exercise equipment of various types, use that stuff. For a person who lives a sedentary lifestyle they are a great way of adding physical activity into your lifestyle. And add some of the body-weight exercises I have taught you about in this paper. And keep at it, not for one month or six months, or even a year. Make it a habit, make it part of a lifestyle change. When you can do that, you will make long-lasting, even permanent positive changes to your body. And that’s a good thing.

A list of many common bodyweight exercises

This list uses what I hope are the most common names for these exercises so you can find them on the internet without too much searching. The problem is some sites may use different names for the same exercises. Youtube is loaded with videos of these, and a particularly good Youtube channel, and web site, is the Livestrong organization.

I have included progressions (when possible) in the descriptions. There are hundreds of variations of these exercises, but this list should be more than enough to get anyone started into a very good home body-weight exercise routine.

Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

  • Wall pushups, start standing and progress to a lower position, then to a table, then to a chair, and eventually to the floor. At this point you should be able to do the “woman” form on the floor (knees on the floor), and eventually to the “man” form (only hands and toes touching the floor).
  • Diamond pushups (hands together under your chest)
  • Wide pushups (hands wide apart)
  • Staggered hands pushups (one hand ahead of your head, the other back alongside your side)
  • Feet elevated (put your feet up off the floor, first on a step then progress to higher levels such as a chair and even a table or counter)
  • One foot raised up into the air, other leg on the floor, progress to the lower foot being on an unstable surface or up on a bench/step/chair

Back and Biceps

  • Door rows (standing at an open door so you are looking at the edge, hold on the the doorknob with one hand, put yourself into a partial squat position, lean back from the door, and pull yourself up to the door. You can do this with one hand on one doorknob or both hands on both doorknobs which is easier)
  • Inverted rows (slide yourself under a table, reach up and grab the edge of the table with your hands, pull your chest up to the table keeping your legs straight, progress to raising one let up off the floor, and eventually to doing the exercise with only one arm. If you have access to a bar that happens to be about 3 feet above the ground/floor with room around it, use it for inverted rows)
  • Bent over rows (bend at your hips, keep you back straight, head forward so you eyes are looking ahead at about a 45 degree angle, and raise the weight to your chest. You can do these with your hands inward, thus flaring your elbos outward a bit, or keep your hands straight and your elbows close to your sides. Concentrate on squeezing your shoulder blades for your upper back. You can do these one hand at a time or both hands at the same time. You can also word towards concentrating on your lower back, squeezing the lower end of the Latissimus Dorsi muscles (the big flat back muscles) together)
  • Biceps Curls (simple exercise for your upper arms biceps muscles, hold your weight in your hand(s), arms down, hands at your hips. Raise the weight, bending your elbow. There are many variations – hands turned in, turned out, rotate during the lift, and many more)

Core

  • Plank, Side plank, Foot elevated plank (the classic plank exercise, boring but strenuous and great for your core)
  • Superman (Lie face-down on the ground with your arms outstretched in front of you. Simultaneously lift your arms, legs and torso off the ground. Focus on squeezing your glutes throughout)
  • Bird dog (Start on all fours with your back flat. Raise one arm forward while simultaneously lifting your opposite leg until both limbs are in line with your torso. Slowly bring your leg and arm back to the starting position and then repeat with the opposite limbs)
  • Bicycle (Lie down on the ground with your knees bent and hands behind your head. Lift your legs off the ground and make a pedalling motion (like you’re riding a bicycle)
  • Elbow-Knee Raises (With your hands behind your head (DON’T PULL YOUR HEAD FORWARD), bring your opposing elbow to meet each leg as it comes toward you)
  • Flutter kick (lay on your back with arms at your sides and palms facing down. With your legs extended, lift the heels a few inches off the ground. Engage your core, and make small up-and-down kicks with the legs)
  • Straight-leg raise (Lie flat on the ground with your legs straight. Contract your abdominals and lift your legs until your hips are bent at 90 degrees. Lower the legs slowly to the ground)
  • Hanging leg raises (if you have access to a high bar so you can hang from it use it for leg raises. The bent knee raise, the straight-leg raise, and the bent-knee side rise for your oblique musices (in your sides)

Legs - Calves

  • Calf raise (the easiest form is simply stand, raise up onto your toes, reverse, repeat. Progress to standing on the edge of a step or a step platform, now you can fully raise and fully lower, getting full extension of the calves)
  • One-legged calf raise (calf raises on one leg at a time)
  • Squat calf raise (This one takes a little getting used to, but is great for isolating the soleus. Hang on to the back of a chair for stability and sink down in to a squat position. Shift your weight on to your toes and steadily push-up and down. Maintain your hip and knee angles to prevent it from turning in to a squat)
  • Stiff-Leg Ankle Hop (Get in to a rhythm and act like a pogo stick, using the calves to spring up and down. Try not to bend at the knees and hips, which brings in the quadriceps and glutes. Although the knees will bend slightly, stay upright and focus on using the calves for movement)

Thighs (Quadraceps)

  • Squats (The easiest is to start with your back against a wall and lower yourself into a sitting position, then push yourself back up agains the wall. Progress to chair squats – sit and as soon as your butt touches the chair seat push yourself back up. Pregress to standard squats, then to adding weights, or feet wide apart or close together. You can also do single-leg squats by putting one foot up on a chair behind you, and eventually progress to removing the chair, but stay near a wall or something else for support in case you lose your balance)
  • Lunges (Static Lunge - stand with your hands on the hips and take a long stride forward. Your feet will stay in this position throughout the exercise. Slowly lower your body until the knee of your opposite leg is close to or touching the floor. Push back up into the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg. Forward Lunges – do lunges moving yourself forwalk in a lunging-walking fashion. Reverse Lunges are the same as the Statice Lunges except you now step backward, not forward. Side Lunges – step outward to your side, both left and right sides. You can progress to carrying weights as you lunge)
  • Step-ups (Using a step or bench, and place one foot on the raised surface. Step up until the front leg is straight, and then return to start by stepping down (don’t jump), alternate legs as you do your step-ups. Progress to several different heights of steps – maybe a series of 12”, 24”, 36”)

Glutes (Butt) and Hamstrings

  • Donkey-kick (Get down on all fours with your back flat. Kick one leg to the rear, straight out, and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg)
  • Bent-Leg Donkey Kick (Kneel down on all fours with your legs bent at 90 degrees. Quickly lift one leg up behind you. Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg. This variation places more emphasis on the glutes, and less on the hamstrings)
  • Glute Bridge (Lie on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your hands at your sides. Push through your heels and use your glutes (butt) to lift your hips as high as possible. Pause at the top and slowly return to the starting position. Progress to using one leg on the floor for lifting your butt, the other leg is up in the air)
  • Shoulders-Elevated Hip Raise (Place your shoulders on a chair, bench, or bed. With your hands at the side of your head, push through your heels and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips as high as possible. Hold the top position for a few seconds before returning to the ground. Progress to doing it using only one leg. Bend the leg you aren’t using to begin with, and then try it with your leg straight out in front of you to make it more difficult still. From there progress to raising both the shoulders and feet off the floor. Using a raised surface such as a chair or bed for your upper back, place your feet on another surface (such as a stool or chair) that is roughly the same height. From there squeeze your glutes to lift your hips as high as possible, as in other variations of this exercise)
  • Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (Stand up with your feet together. Pivot at your hips so you lower your arms and torso in front of you while raising one leg, straight out behind your body. Keep the opposite knee slightly bent and reach the arms as close to the floor as possible. To return to the starting position, raise your torso while lowering the back leg. You can try to hold that bent position for a few seconds or longer before returning to the start position)

Found some really old blogs

August 23, 2003
Cheryl with Crater Lake in the background
Recently I was browsing the website The Wayback Machine (check it out if you haven't seen it) and I found they had a few of my oldest blogs archived. Those date back to 2002, and possibly are not complete, but they are more than I had from those early years. There are five of them, not many, but better than none at all. If interested you can read them, they're all quite short, by clicking on the Old Blogs button at the top of the page, then going to the last pages of the list. The picture above is Cheryl standing near the edge of Crater Lake, in Oregon, when we were on vacation in 2003.

Updates

Oct 3, 2019
Some Ceiba Bonga trees in Barranquilla.

I've added a couple more writings to the My Writings page, check'em out.

Website updates

Sept 29, 2019
Along a road in Barranquilla

I have finished a rewrite of the website. What you see when you are reading it appears to be the same, but what happens on the server with the actual pages has changed. I have reduced the number of pages while also increasing the number of pages you can read. For example, I've added the page that has my writings - poems, essays, etc. Nevertheless, the overall number of pages that are used by the site has been reduced.

The home page loads the latest blog from a database, and it includes a few very small files which contain the other sections - the top of the page with the picture and byline, the right-column with my pic and bio, the weather and the Google translator, and finally at the bottom the footer. Each of those are small files that rare need to be touched.

The page with the old blogs loads all of the old blogs from a database, puts them into pages of 5, and then loads the one you click on in the same page. In addition, it includes the same auxiliary files as the home page.

The music page simply loads the songs off the hard drive and it also includes the same auxiliary files.

The lessons page is like the old blogs page - it loads all the lessons from a database, but only the title and link because the lessons are .pdf files stored on the hard drive. When you click on a lesson, it loads in another page as a .pdf. Therefore, when I add a new lesson to the directory on the hard drive it is automatically found and added to the page. This is a page I will be looking to change - make the .pdf open in the first page that calls it, not in a second page. It includes the same auxiliary files as the others.

The only page not changed is the photo album because I use the Zen Photo Album script for that. It is a commonly available script and always considered one of the best, and is available free. The only drawback to using a third party script is it is more difficult to integrate perfectly into an existing web site. That is something that will require much more work.

So, with all that said, I now have to only update the database or the hard drive lessons directory and the code I wrote takes care of the rest. Much easier.

Please don't be shy about leaving comments.

Me on the old Muelle (dock)

Chip Wiegand

Contact me: Chip Wiegand

I teach english as a foreign language in Colombia. I'm from Kennewick, Washington, USA. In my previous life, as I call it, I was an IT guy, systems administrator, computer tech, as well as a shipping/receiving guy and also worked as a merchandising guy for a year for a camping/RV accessories store.


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