STEP 1: CHOOSE YOUR FOCUS
Are you using this workout to crank your heart rate up, or to build on your strength foundation? In other words, are you interested in strength or conditioning? Of course, you don’t have to choose one – you can incorporate both. But it helps to have a focus.
Choose more difficult exercise variations. Two keys to a good GYMLESS strength session: Challenging movements and lower repetitions. If you’re past using the pushup in its most basic form to build strength, for example, then progress it to the pause pushup.
If you choose strength, you’ll probably want to use alternating sets or a simple set/rest scheme. For alternating sets, start by pairing your push and pull exercises. Perform exercise A, take a short rest, perform exercise B, and repeat. Then move on to the next pair. If you’re looking for the simplest way to tackle a workout, work through all of your sets on a single exercise, taking rest between each, then move on to the next exercise.
Choose easier exercise variations. Two keys to a good GYMLESS conditioning session: Lots of movement and/or higher repetitions. You don’t need both, but they do work well together. And by higher repetitions I don’t mean sets of 50 – shoot for 10-20. Better yet, use time – think 40 to 80 second sets.
If you choose conditioning, it may be best to use a circuit format. Perform one exercise after the other with no rest between movements. Take a rest only when you complete the entire circuit, or all 5 exercises. Then repeat.
STEP 2: CHOOSE 2 PUSHING AND 2 PULLING MOVEMENTS
Start by breaking exercises down into two categories: Push and pull. Pushing exercises typically require the most effort from muscles on the front of the body, while pulling exercises target the muscles on the back of the body. Stabilizing muscles come into play all over the place – just think about the prime movers.
I tend to choose an even amount of pushing and pulling movements because I’m a big fan of balance. This is a good rule of thumb, but far from the only way to set up a workout. If you’re weak in a particular area, you might want to place more emphasis there.
STEP 3: CHOOSE 1 ANTI-FLEXION/EXTENSION
and 1 ROTATION/ANTI-ROTATION MOVEMENT
Similar to push and pull, break down core exercise into two categories: Anti-flexion/extension and rotation/anti-rotation. In the most basic terms, anti-flexion/extension means you’re trying not to let your lower back flex forward or extend backward. Rotation movements incorporate some type of twisting motion, while anti-rotation movements require you to resist some type of twisting motion.
Again, you don’t necessarily have to choose 1 of each. If you’re weak in one area – probably rotation/anti-rotation – then place more emphasis there. If you can’t hold a 30-second plank, start with anti-flexion/extension.
NOTE: THIS OVERSIMPLIFIES THE PROCESS
This simple approach may not work well for you if you’re at the intermediate or advanced level. I’m sorry. Please understand that this step-by-step process is oversimplified. It’s designed to help beginners learn a basic method for creating challenging and effective workouts.