If you’re new to exercising, the gym is intimidating.
Bros walking around everywhere, babes in full makeup on the elliptical, and more flexing #gymselfies than anybody needs to see. Ever.
You know how it goes. Every time that you go back after an extended gym fast, it always feels like you’re starting from square one all over again. It’s annoying. And it’s a feeling you know all too well. Because you’ve been stuck on square one. For years.
It’s time we change that. But how?
The first place to start is actually where you stopped. Figuring out why you stopped your exercise routine in the first place is key. When you know why you stopped going to the gym, you can figure out what’s going to help you free yourself from being stuck on square one.
So what was it?
Was it the bros? The babes? The shirtless selfies?
Or was it a lack of time?
A lack of motivation?
Or were you tired of paying for a gym membership that got you minimal results?
Odds are it had to do with time, motivation, or money. But even if you stopped going because that guy won’t stop flexing his abs in the mirror, it begs the question:
Is going to the gym the best and the only way to exercise?
The answer is no.
There are several ways to get a quick workout in without even leaving your home.
Whether you’re beginning to exercise for the first time or you’re seeking to rekindle your love for sweat, I have a solution for you.
But wait. Everybody knows what bodyweight exercises are. That’s why we’re going to take them to the next level. Your ticket to breaking free from square one without having to step foot in the gym is simple.
Compound bodyweight exercises.
I’m going to explain exactly what those are, why they’re effective, and how to implement them from the comfort of your own home. But first, I have to explain something important.
So push the brim of your glasses (real or imaginary) a little higher on the bridge of your nose. We’re about to get a bit technical. And you’re about to understand how beneficial compound bodyweight exercises are.
The Kinetic Chain
Your body is made of a kinetic chain, a concept that explains how your muscles, joints, and nerves must work together in order to move correctly. The kinetic chain is split into two categories: open-chain and closed-chain.
Open-chain exercises include:
- Any exercises that require added weight such as dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells and
- Exercises that do not require your feet or hands to be fixed. They generally target only one joint and muscle.
Examples of open chain exercises: biceps curls, lat pull down, bench press.
In these exercises, you are moving the weight toward and away from your body that is in a fixed position.
Closed-chain exercises include:
- Bodyweight exercises that do not require added weight (adding weight is possible and optional) and
- Any exercises where your feet or hands are fixed on the ground and cannot move. Multiple muscles and joints are used during closed chain exercises.
Examples of closed chain exercises: push-ups, pull-ups, squats.
In these exercises, you are moving your body toward and away from a fixed object.
Open-chain exercises are great for many reasons, but the main reason that they are so popular (especially among bodybuilders) is because they can isolate certain muscle groups and build out muscles in specific places.
Closed-chain exercises can be very beneficial and effective because they require more muscle recruitment, therefore strengthening not only the targeted muscle but the surrounding muscles as well.
Since they require more stability and muscle recruitment, you’ll burn way more calories.
When using closed-chain exercises, you will improve muscle strength and also tone your body and lose fat while in the process. Win-win-win.
Both of these exercise types (closed & open chain) play major roles in fitness programs contributing to your overall physique. However, after understanding the benefits of both open and closed chain, it’s clear that the most beneficial for overall everyday functionality would be closed chain.
Open-chain exercises are the main type of exercise used in traditional fitness programs where you focus on one or two muscle groups per day and you cycle through them all week. According to NASM (national academy of sports medicine), closed-chain exercises may result in greater motor unit activation and synchronization when compared with open-chain exercises.
What Does This Have to Do With Anything?
I mentioned earlier that closed chain exercises work multiple joints. An example of this is a squat. When you squat, you are using your hip, knee and ankle joints. It also uses multiple muscle groups: quadriceps and glutes. The type of squat (back, front, sumo, etc.) determines which muscles are dominantly used.
This is crucial when it comes to training.
Whether your goal is aesthetics, strength or overall functionality, you are always going to need to do the basic movements of picking something off of the floor and performing everyday tasks.
Closed chain exercises will specifically help you perform at your best. Even if that performance is running to catch the bus or the ice cream truck.
Why You NEED This
If you’re not fond of going to the gym or lack time, these compound bodyweight exercises are perfect for you. They take about half an hour and you can do them right in the comfort of your own home!
It always seems like a gym is necessary to get in shape. But you can actually have a more effective workout that is faster than going to the gym and requires no equipment. All you need is your bod.
Compound Bodyweight Exercises + Weight Loss
Weight loss occurs from a combination of several different elements. The most vital element of weight loss is being in a caloric deficit. Whether this comes from nutrition or from exercise, it needs to be up front and center in your weight loss journey or else you won’t have success. Period.
I’m going to break this down so that you can understand how it works to lose one pound. In order to lose one pound, you have to have a 3500 calorie deficit.
Now it doesn’t really matter if you just cut 500 calories from your diet per day and don’t exercise, or if you cut 250 from your diet and burn 250 in the gym every day. No matter how it’s done, it needs to be gone.
You’re probably thinking, well what does this have to do with body weight exercises?
My answer: EVERYTHING!
When you perform vigorous exercise (compound bodyweight exercises or circuits) for an extended period of time (30-45 minutes), you burn calories not only during your workout but also 24-48 hours after your workout. The greater the intensity of your workout, the longer the afterburn effect.
This means that even though you are eating well and exercising, you continue burning calories all through your next workout and your calorie deficit becomes increasingly larger.
Also, building muscle increases your metabolism. Lean mass is more metabolically active than fat. In other words, more lean muscle means less fat.
With compound bodyweight exercises you will be able to benefit from the afterburn effect, as well as lean muscle gains, which will boost metabolism and burn more calories, even when you’re just sitting on your couch, all because you exercised hours ago!
And remember: calorie deficit (no matter where it comes from) = weight loss
It seems a little too simple and boring just doing push-ups and pull-ups right? Well here’s the great part: there are countless exercises and variations that work multiple joints, muscles, intensity level and improve overall functionality.
For this workout, you’ll do three separate circuits (stations one, two, and three). Perform the exercises at each station in a non-stop, circuit-like fashion for the allotted time. Rest as written between stations.
Be sure to warm-up before starting the workout.