Easy alternatives when you don’t have fitness equipment
Ideally, we’d all have access to top of the line gyms stocked with the latest equipment, but that’s not always going to be the case. Whether you’re travelling, don’t have a gym membership, or are trying to get a solid workout at home or in a gym with limited gear, sometimes you have to come up with creative alternatives.
Here are a few things you can do to work-around fitness equipment limitations.
1 Go slow and go long with bodyweight
For some fitness enthusiasts, bodyweight exercises can become frustrating because at a certain point they seem to lose their challenge. The solution – perform bodyweight motions slowly using a high degree of mind-muscle connection, and do more reps. Go through each motion at a reduced pace so that you not only increase the time under tension for each muscle, but also get the chance to focus on making sure you’re really using the muscle group you’re trying to target. And every time you go through your bodyweight routine, add a few more reps to each set. Even if you’re only increasing by two to three reps, it will add up.
2 Head outdoors and see what nature has to offer
Go natural and make the great outdoors your gym. Increase the intensity of your cardio by running over sand or rough, uneven terrain. Get strength and core training using rocks, driftwood and logs. Use tree branches for pullups, and stumps or longs for box jumps.
3 Look for alternatives
If you find yourself at a gym that doesn’t offer a particular piece of equipment that you prefer, get creative with your alternatives. Or sometimes a gym will have what you’re looking for, but someone else is using it and you don’t want to wait – find a way to get what you need from a different piece of gear.
For example, I’m a huge fan of doing T-bar rows for my back, but a lot of gyms don’t offer a proper T-bar row tool. If I find myself in this situation, I simply take a barbell and jam one end against a corner of the wall, load up the other end with weight, then stand with it between my legs, sling a cable-row handle underneath, and go through the motion. Or say you want to do cable-flys but the cable rack is packed? Switch up for dumbbell flys. Etc. etc. As an added bonus, by being forced to find alternatives you also add variance to your routine, which works out new muscles and helps to deliver more comprehensive results.
4 Load up with water
And I’m not talking about hydration. Well, it’s important to stay hydrated too, but at the moment I’m recommending water for another of its properties: its weight. Water bottles of assorted sizes can be a great way to add weight to a workout. If pushups or squats are feeling too easy, for example, load up a backpack with water bottles and go to it. A couple 1,000 milliliters of water equals roughly 10 kilograms of weight, which is more than enough to add some difficulty to your sets.
Essentially, you can use water bottles exactly like dumbbells. And the kind with handles around the mouth can be used like kettlebells. These will provide a variety of weighted workout opportunities.
5 Increase the Intensity
If you want to get a great workout with only your body, one of the most popular techniques involves HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT essentially involve going through a series of high-paced exercises that will drive up your heart rate and work out your entire body. This delivers a range of benefits, and is considered one of the best techniques for burning fat.
There are an endless range of routines that can be performed. If you’re new to HIIT, start by checking out a few on YouTube. From there, mix and match your own.