Monday, April 11, 2011


Bodyweight Workouts for Fat Loss

In the last 2 decades or so, gyms have become a rage in urban India. Young Indians battle their stressful lives and try to look great by going to gyms. Housewives battle their expanding hips by visiting gyms and the elderly visit gyms simply to be able to maintain the ability to perform basic movements. No wonder then that the fitness industry is one of the fastest growing industries in India today. But what if you cannot visit a gym? What if you lack the time or maybe cannot afford the overly priced nearby “health spa”? Training at home will be the way out for you in such a situation. 

Yes, you can indeed get a great workout with your own bodyweight at home or in a nearby park. Plus, most of the gyms in India that are choc a bloc with the latest fitness machines are no match for good old bodyweight training! I am yet to find a treadmill that can help one lose fat faster than a tough bodyweight circuit workout.

For some, bodyweight training or “free hand” training as we refer to it in India involves mainly some joint mobility type exercises along with some stretching and some other light exercises. Now if this is what you think about bodyweight training then it’s a shame, because bodyweight training can be far more intense than this. Try doing 50-60 full push ups in a row, 150-200 squats, or 25 fast paced burpees in a row and you will understand why.

A great advantage of bodyweight routines is that they offer you a gym that goes wherever your body goes. So that means you can perform bodyweight training even while you travel. I must however remind you that fat loss is greatly influenced by your diet. So performing 100 push ups followed by digging into a dish of samosas and jalebis is not an option when looking to lose fat and optimizing your health!

One of the best ways to perform bodyweight training for fat loss is to do circuits or timed sets: A circuit simply involves performing multiple exercises one after the other and then repeating them after a brief pause. Timed sets refers to a set that is done for a fixed time rather than for a fixed number of repetitions. So for eg if you do a timed set of 30 seconds of push ups, then you will try to get as many reps as you can in those 30 seconds with good form rather than try to get a fixed number of reps.

Here are some sample bodyweight workouts for fat loss that you can perform with little to no equipment:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Push ups- 3 sets of 10-15 reps (start with hands on bed if you cannot do them on floor)
Split squats- 2 sets of 6-8 reps each side (go as low as comfortable in the beginning)
Plank hold- 2 sets of 20-30 seconds
Squats- 3 sets of 20-25 reps (start with sitting on a chair if required and then work to doing it without any aid)

Add repetitions to the exercises with time to progress. On other days add some jogging/ fast walking/ sports, etc to burn more calories.

Intermediate to early advance
Monday, Thursday
A1) Push ups- 3 sets of 45-60 seconds
A2) Bulgarian split squats- 3 sets of 8-10 reps each side
B1) Side bridges- 3 sets of 30 seconds each side
C1) Squats- 3 sets of 60 seconds each 
C2) Slow and controlled sit up- 3 sets of 10 reps (go down with a slow 4 seconds count and go up slowly too)

Tuesday, Saturday
A1) Hindu push ups- 3 sets of 30-45 seconds
A2) Lunges- 3 sets of 30 seconds each leg
B1) T-rotations- 3 sets of 30 seconds each side
B2) 1 leg Romanian deadlfits- 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Burpees- 5 sets of 10-15 reps with a 30-45 seconds break

A1 and A2 refers to alternating sets. So do 1 set of A1 and rest for a minute and then do 1 set of A2. Again rest for a minute and perform a set of A1 until all the sets of the two exercises are done. With the timed sets you should aim to get more reps with time.

As you may have noticed, I have left out a very effective exercise - the pull ups. This is because everyone does not have access to a pull up bar at home. Plus most overweight individuals will struggle to do them till they drop some serious body fat. If, however, you do have the opportunity to do them, then by all means go ahead. 

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