As everyone is stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, without access to our usual workout studios or fitness equipment, we’re getting creative with our exercises. While there are countless household items that double as workout equipment, it’s also worth noting that you can weight train without weights. Seriously.
Olympic weightlifter Allan Contreras, a coach at Future training, knows this firsthand. As someone who competes (in the Olympics, no less) by lifting heavy weights, he’s in the same situation as the rest of the world, unable to train in the usual, out-of-the-house manner. What’s an Olympic weightlifter to do? Work with his own body weight.
“I turn to some of my go-to bodyweight exercises, which I do three times a week in the morning,” says Contreras, noting that they help to wake his body up and work all of his muscles. The moves that he turns to work together for full-body strength, gets his body working on multiple planes (think lateral movements), strengthen his stabilizer muscles, and all essentially make his body more primed to take on heavy weights again once he’s able to do so. Keep scrolling for his go-to at-home workout—zero equipment needed.
How to weight train without weights
1. Push-ups: Why such a simple strength-training move? “It’s a horizontal push exercise that helps strengthen and develop the shoulder girdle,” says Contreras. “It’s a great way to get volume in the upper body without a risk of injury.” He also points to variations like clapping at the top or exploding while pushing up to progress the move and make it more difficult.
2. Jump squats: Doing jump squats adds an explosive component to the normal bodyweight squat, says Contreras. “These work triple extension, which transfers over to running and jumping, plus they work on the stretch reflex in the bottom of the squat and the drive phase standing up.” He adds that these are a staple in many weightlifting programs.
3. Three-way lunge matrix: Contreras swears by this multi-planar lunge variation, as it “allows you to move through the frontal and sagittal plane in one set,” by targeting your glutes, quads, and adductors. “It’s important to train with unilateral movements since most of the time people train bilaterally. These also help with identifying weaknesses between your legs,” he says. To do these, step into a lateral lunge, come to center, step into a reverse lunge. Then drive back into a forward lunge for one full rep.
4. High plank: “The high plank strengthens the shoulder girdle and transverse abdominis, which helps to keep your low back and shoulders healthy, while training long-term by helping develop stabilizer muscles in the body,” says Contreras of the OG core move.
5. Sumo squat hold: When you’re in a sumo squat, which is a squat with a wider stance, you’re working the abductors. “These help to work stabilizer muscles surrounding the hip and knee joints,” says Contreras. “This transfers over to holding heavier weighted loads.” When you’re down holding the squat at the bottom, he recommends rocking side to side to feel a stretch inside your thighs.
For Contreras’ recommended workout that puts all of the moves together, he suggests:
1. Push-ups: 3 sets, 15 reps
2. High plank: 3 sets of a 30-second hold
3. Three-way lunge matrix: 5 sets, 5 reps (side, back, and forward equals one rep)
4. Jump squats: 5 sets of 3 reps
5. Sumo squat hold: 3 sets of a 30-second hold
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