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Build Strength For The New Year

New Year's means excessive travel - or at least some travel. And for many, that means limited gym access. Combine a little laziness and lounge time with generous food portions and subtract your calorie-burning gym time...well, you know where I'm going.

But here's the cool thing about fitness - there's always a solution. That's where bodyweight exercise comes in. Those who spend ample amounts of time pushing heavy weights in the gym may not appreciate a good bodyweight workout right away, but we'll get you there.

This week, we'll talk bodyweight strength and power movements. Next week: bodyweight circuits designed to gas you physically and mentally. So, strength and power with bodyweight movements? It's actually not as difficult as it sounds. Let's take a look...

Workout Days: 1, 2, or 4. If you have time for only one workout during your busy week, pile everything together - knock out the two power circuits followed by the two strength circuits. With two days available, pair a power workout with a strength workout. If you'd prefer four short and sweet sessions, choose one circuit to perform on each of four days.

Sets & Reps: It's difficult to say for bodyweight movements, as you can't alter the weight. For most of the movements here, stick in the 8-12 rep range with 2-4 sets per circuit. Consider bumping some movements - the squat jump or modified crunch - into the 15-20 range. On the other hand, movements like the plank to pushup may be less than 8.

Power 1

A1) Explosive Pushup


The goal is to perform an ordinary pushup, but explode off your hands at the top of the motion. If necessary, you can make these easier by either moving to your knees or elevating your hands. Or, make them harder by dropping the reps and focusing on pushing yourself as far from the ground as possible.

A2) Squat Jump


Nothing too complicated - a squat followed by a jump. During the jump, remember to push off your toes and land on your toes. Focus on jump quality. Try for big height. If these are too easy, move to one leg. If they're too difficult, slow down the tempo.

A3) No-Pushup Burpee


This is a beginner burpee - squat, kick back to pushup position, kick back to squat, jump. For a bigger challenge, add a pushup. Still not enough? Swap the normal jump for a frog hop. If these are too difficult, and they are for many, reduce the tempo or shoot for time instead of reps.

Strength 1

B1) Inverted Row


You'll need something relatively low-hanging for this, but that shouldn't be too hard to find. You can do these with a close or wide grip, an overhand or underhand grip. No set rules.

B2) Pause Side Lunge w/ Foot Elevated


This slight side lunge variation features a pause at the bottom of the movement. Additionally, both feet start on a raised platform (not high - use a book or two) to increase the range.

B3) Plank to Pushup


It's exactly as it sounds - you'll start in a plank position and straighten both arms into a pushup position. You can add an actual pushup, as the video shows, but it's not necessary. Beginners may choose to use only the plank, while others can increase difficulty by holding the plank or pushup position for a period of time. If that's still not enough, add a crawl to the pushup portion, moving either forward or backward.


Power 2

A1) Close to Wide Pushup

This is a variation on the explosive pushup. Following the same concept, you'll explode upwards and switch grips with each rep. Follow the same rules as the explosive pushup for increasing or decreasing difficulty.

A2) Lunge Jump



These aren't too different from the squat jump - a lunge and then a jump. Again, explode off the toes and land on the toes. Focus on jump quality. Try for big height. If these are too easy, alternate sides as you go - your balance will be tested.

A3) No-Pushup Burpee

You already know what these are!

Strength 2

B1) Pull-up


As with the inverted row, you'll need to find a branch or horizontal pole for these. Use the most comfortable grip - narrow and underhand will be the easiest combination for many. If pull-ups are too difficult, you can use the video as a guide. Otherwise, find something just above your sitting height to hang onto. Sitting, and with legs straight, you can perform beginner pull-ups made easier by using your lower body for support.

B2) Hip Thrust


For th glute-focused movement, find something around bench height to rest against. Push down on your heels, squeeze your glutes, and thrust your hips in the air until you're parallel with the ground. To increase difficulty, add pauses or weight - be creative wth the weight. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, use only one foot.

B3) Modified Crunch to Mountain Climber

Start in a pushup position. Bending your knees, "hop" your feet towards your chest, then hop back - this is just a mountain climber wth both feet moving together. From here, move into mntain climbers. Alternate between the two. Increase speed to increase difficulty.

What You Need To Know: These look like circuits, and they are - but there's a catch. Each set is represented by alternating sets. In a typical circuit, you perform each exercise back to back with no rest. With alternating sets, you'll move through the exercises in order just as you would during a circuit, but you'll use your regular rest interval between. In other words - for Power 1, perform the explosive pushup, rest, then the squat jump, rest, then the burpee - and repeat. For bodyweight movements, stick to rest intervals of 30 to 60 seconds.


**The information on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Before starting any new exercise program we recommend consulting your doctor first.**