So you want to get in shape, but you have no gym membership and don’t know what to do.
That’s fine, you don’t need one to get in great shape! You can work out anywhere, like me in the photo above, doing push-ups on a cliff in South Africa. Because why not!
Commercial gyms are tough places to work out anyways:
They’re home to pushy salesman, intimidating jacked dudes grunting into a mirror, and other members that aren’t very welcoming.
Luckily, you can burn fat, build muscle, and get a great workout using just your body weight – no gym required.
Cardio can actually be one of the least efficient methods of burning calories (which I explain below).
Why not give bodyweight training a try and be more efficient with your time?
We know starting with this stuff can be intimidating, which is why we’ve built a 7-level, no-gym required, bodyweight training system (with boss battles, workout plans, HD-video demonstrations, a nutrition and mindset roadmap, and supportive community) in our flagship course The Nerd Fitness Academy.
Today however, you can get started with our free bodyweight circuit below in the comfort of your own home: you’ll complete one exercise right after the other without stopping, you’re both building muscle and getting a cardiovascular workout.
Combine that with a good diet and you got yourself a kick-ass plan to follow!
What makes bodyweight circuits work so well?
Every exercise involved utilizes multiple muscle groups, gets your heart rate pumping, and burns tons of calories.
Essentially, circuit weight training, or circuit bodyweight training, burns more calories than interval training, and that in turn burns WAY more calories than steady cardio. When you strength train, you burn calories. Then, your body needs to spend hours and hours afterwards rebuilding your muscles, which in turns burns even more calories (they call this the ‘afterburn effect).
As we cover in the Academy and throughout Nerd Fitness, our nutrition will account for 80-90% of our success or failure when it comes to getting in shape, might as well spend our time exercising being efficient and strong, right?
If you’re trying to lose weight, spending hours doing cardio on a treadmill is a really crappy, boring, inefficient use of your time.
If you’re a busy person (and I know you are), why spend hours doing something when you can be MORE efficient and build a better physique with less time?
Enter the beginner bodyweight workout.
I’m going to take you through a basic workout today that can be completed in your house, apartment, out at a park, in your basement, on the moon, wherever.
As always, make sure you are cleared by your personal physician for physical activity before attempting these exercises.
This is a basic body weight circuit.
In a circuit routine, you’ll do each exercise in succession without a break in between (if you’re able). Once you’ve finished all exercises in the circuit, do it again.
If you’re still able after the 2nd run through, go for a third.
Because all of these exercises come one after another, you’re bound to get tired – and that’s okay! We all start somewhere.
It’s better to stop and take a break than to do an exercise incorrectly. If you can’t do all three circuits without stopping, great! That gives you something to work towards.
Before you start, don’t forget WARM UP – Never ever ever ever forget to warm up. Make sure to get your heart rate pumping and get your muscles warm or you’re just asking for injury.
You can run in place, jump rope, do a few push ups, pedal on a stationary bike, do some punches and kicks, jog up and down your stairs, and/or twist and swing your arms and legs to get them moving! Give it about 5 minutes, and don’t wear yourself out completely, but get your heart rate elevated and little bit of sweat never hurt anybody.
After the warm up, here is exactly what you need to do:
20 bodyweight squats
10 push ups
20 walking lunges – 10 each leg
10 dumbbell rows (using a gallon milk jug or another weight)
15 second plank
30 jumping jacks
After you’ve completed your workout, do some stretches. All of your muscles have been contracted from lifting and need to be stretched back out and rebuilt.
For either the body weight squats or lunges, if you can’t do them properly yet, it’s okay to put your hand on a support to keep your balance.
For the body weight squats, think of it like sitting back into a chair. If you can sit down onto a chair, and then stand immediately right back up without having to lean forward, you are in balance.
For the lunges, keep your eyes ahead and your upper body completely vertical. I had a slight bend at times in the video due to trying to exercise and explain at the same time.
I used a milk jug for my dumbbell, but you can use whatever is heavy enough for you. Find something that is challenging to lift 10 times in a row.
Do this routine 2-3 times a week, but never on consecutive days. You don’t build muscle when you’re exercising, you build muscle when you’re resting.
Generally I like follow a pattern of strength training on one day, then 20 minutes of interval training on the next, then strength training, then interval training, and so on.
Generally, I try not to do a strength training routine (of the same muscle groups) two days in a row, as your muscles need plenty of time to recover.
Along with this routine, you need to make sure you’re eating properly!
A good workout and crappy diet will not get you anywhere.
Lots of real foods (vegetables, protein, healthy fats). Eat natural, whole foods whenever possible, and leave the soda, candy, and junk food out of your system.
Your diet is at least 80% of your success or failure. I’m not kidding when I say that. If you don’t develop a healthier relationship with food, no amount of exercise will get you there.
It’s why we developed a 10-level nutrition system and mindset blueprint in the Academy, but you can start today by just making adjustments to your food currently:
Sugar is worse than Jar Jar Binks – cut back on sugar and liquid calories wherever you can. The stuff is in everything!
Swap out the grains on your plate for vegetables when you can
Make sure you get enough protein each day – this helps with rebuilding muscles and things like that.