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Body Article : An Equipment-less Gym – Part II (Final)

Back workout

The back muscles are often neglected. As we tend to train the more visible and easier seen, chest, arms and leg muscles. However, the back muscle is one of the most important posture muscles. Have you seen a ballet dancer, when they walk their chin is drawn back and shoulder blades are taut with a straight spine. Basically to achieve a complete body and great posture, include back muscles into your workout.

Back muscles are trickier, because you cant just use your bodyweight to train your back muscles without any equipment. Push-ups require nothing more than going down on your hands, and squats just require you to – well , basically squat. But back exercises require at least a decent pull up bar or some weights. I recommend using light weights first if your bodyweight is too much to handle, a fit person would have difficulty doing a pull up or incline pull up if they had 20kg of excess weight strapped onto themselves – So you shouldn’t be ashamed to use light weights before you progress to heavier weights. Progress from weights to bodyweight and finally if you are hardcore fit, try strapping weights onto yourself to do pull ups or try various pull up styles, varying the grip ect.

Without further ado. Heres some some videos on back training

The higher the bar the easier it is (beginner take note), you would like to space your hands further apart to train your back muscles more (that’s the purpose of the pull up). If you would like to focus on biceps, then i recommend a closer grip. But there’s tons of exercises on bicep, and usually people have weaker back muscles compared to other muscles, so it would be a good idea to bring it up to par.

Chest workout

Chest workouts are quite literally push ups, i recommend that if you find push ups hard, do them with you feet on the ground and with your hands on a platform, then proceed to lower the platform as you get fitter and fitter until you are doing a push on the ground with your knees on the ground. Incline push ups are easy to do. And recommended for beginners.

Progress by lifting your knees off the ground with only your hands and feet contacting the ground as you do a normal push up.

Further progress is also possible if you place your feet on a platform or put some weights on your back (put some weight in a haversack then wear it for added weight to your push up). Vary the distance between your hands (thereby using more triceps if you place your hands closer). Or you can mix push ups with knee tucks, or leg movement ect, there alot of variations. Here is a clip on the Ninja Warriors advanced and kickass push ups. (Reality drama show where people are pit against an impossibly tough and physical obstacle course)

Abdominal wokrout

Finally abdominals… it’s hard to expect wash board abs, abdominals are usually tough to train because they require a low (very low) body fat and not strong bulging abdominal muscles. Don’t believe the TV advertistment promising washboard abs if you buy their ab-flex or ab-perfect machine. If you just use that, then probably you might have slightly stronger muscles which won’t show from the layers of fat covering it.

Its far better to aim for full body fitness with strong chest, back and leg muscles and with a sensible diet, it would be hard for your abs not to show. Remember, ripped abdominals are the result of low body fat and high overall fitness, not huge abdominal muscles.

That being said, there are alot of exercises that cross utilise the abdominals and you can get a 100x more decent calorie burn than if you do a 1000 sit ups a day (1000 sit ups it won’t help much except make your abdominal muscles very resistant to fatigue and cause back pain).

Here are some good exercises to incorporate. Moderate according to fitness level, and simple crunches are good enough if you feel they are too tough (which they are actually).

The good thing about abs is that usually you don’t require any equipment at all, as opposed to back muscles which at least require a pull up bar or some weights (you can make weights by filling up one litre bottles of water or using something heavy that you can find in your home, it doesn’t have to be barbells).

Conclusion – The revolution of the home workout movement is near. Do sensible exercises and ones that challenge your strength level instead of following aerobic tape workouts which are complex and might injure your joints due to the high repetition range and dynamic movements. Splitting your workout into strength training and gentle walking is better for beginners than some fancy jump around aerobic workout and much safer too. Build up strength levels first before attempting anything dynamic and fast paced. It’s not a race to the finish, but it’s always great to tailor your workout to fit yourself, I have provided some tools and it is up to your imagination to modify and adjust it SENSIBLY. Bodyweight workouts are cheap and i might say even more efficient than a gym workout because they use the bio-mechanics of the body instead of constraining it into a big bulky machine that only allows one plane of movement (and probably take up a huge chunk of your salary as well as space in your house, which will make dust mites happy). Train hard – Train smart.

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Body Article : An Equipment-less Gym Part I

When many people think of fitness, they think of shiny barbells, sweaty two hour runs and someone screaming in their face to pump out that extra repetition. But I guess this is a gross misconception, if you have not been diligent with your body and carry about over 10 pounds more than you should or have muscles that haven’t lifted anything heavier than the water-cooler canister, then you should probably stick with the basics.

If you have not been training, then I recommend bodyweight exercises. Not only that, I recommend that you continue bodyweight exercises until you get proficient enough to pump up reps easily before you consider heavy lifting, because as a famous bodybuilder like Arnold Schwarzenegger once said “if you can’t lift your own bodyweight, forget about bench pressing or lifting heavy weights, you own weight is plenty enough”.

Bodyweight exercises also include cardio, and brisk walking would be a great start to get into action and requires nothing less than comfortable clothes and shoes. In essence, you don’t need a fancy gym unless you master these bodyweight exercises, and you can save the money until you get strong and fit enough to do the things you want, as well as create a functional and desirable body.

Who says muscles are always ugly ?

Heres some exercises. I like to break down the exercises into major body parts, like chest, back and legs and full body. To burn the maximum amount of calories, you need the maximum amount of muscles involved. And comfortable enough so that you can progressively improve without being excessively sore the next day. Consistency is key here, so a 20 to 30 minute workout progressively reaching  40 minutes would do you wonders. Lets get started :

Squats – Various Forms

Squats are the bread and butter of body weight exercises. They work the legs which make up most of the muscles in your body. Squats don’t make your legs bigger, they make them stronger and leaner. Progress to weighted squats or increase the repetitions over time. As shown is a youtube video (it can be found in the bodyrock.tv website)of how it’s done, and the exact body that you can hope to achieve with balanced training and dieting.

Burpees – Various Forms

Burpees are killer exercises, used by the military as well as by the weekend fitness enthusiast, its hard and there are many way to make it harder. It involves almost all the muscles in the body, but does not specifically train the back muscles, but it does train the abs, legs, shoulders, triceps and buttocks quite well.

As shown below is an advanced form of burpees, which include a push up and a jump. A normal beginners burpee would not include the push up and jump (just going into a push up position and standing is tired enough).

Back workout and more on next post ….. Body Article : An Equipment-less Gym – Part II