The No-Gym Workout

Bored of your usual workout? Whether you’re on a budget, have limited access to equipment or are simply looking for a new way to challenge your body, this routine created by Dean Hodgkin will fit the bill perfectly. Using gravity, your body weight and a little bit of imagination, the following moves will not only target all your problem areas, but also ensure that you burn a whole lot of calories in the process.

The rules

  • Don’t skip the warm-up, and allow longer for this section on cold days or early mornings
  • Aim for 15 reps of each exercise, on both sides where appropriate
  • Quality is better than quantity, so use a mirror if possible to check your technique
  • Control the downward, lowering phase of each exercise; don’t let gravity take over
  • Progression can be added to all exercises by wearing a weighted vest
  • Cool down with stretches for your major muscle groups, holding for 30 sec
    • Warm-up

      First mobilise your joints with wrist, arm, ankle and hip circles. Add a few shallow squats then begin to raise your core body temperature by marching on the spot, building up to a jog, for 2-3 minutes.
      Now hit the floor for bear crawls, i.e. just move around the space you have, in a bent over position so your weight is on your hands and feet, keeping your abdominals pulled in tight all the time. Move forwards, backwards, side-to-side and diagonally.

    • Finally, flip over to face upwards for crab walks on your hands and feet with your backside off the floor all the time. Alternate between these two, moving around the floor space you have, for 2-3 minutes.

    • Hindu press-up

      Start in a downward dog pose, with your hands and feet on the floor, but backside lifted up towards the heavens and tummy pulled in tight. Also ensure your shoulders are pulled away from your ears to lengthen your neck and the top of your head is dropped to the floor.

    • Now bend your elbows and take your chin close to the floor, shifting your bodyweight forwards, so your chin traces a path close to the floor, between your hands, and then extend through your back to lift your face up and forwards. Return to the start position

      Works the…

      Chest, shoulders & triceps


      Whilst there are three movements here, the aim is to link the down/forward, lift up and then return up/ backward to the start in one smooth movement. Try to keep your chin as close to the floor as possible on the first phase.

    • Single leg bridge

      Lie on your back with one leg extended and the other bent at the knee, so your foot is flat on the floor. Locate your neutral spine by gently tipping your lower pelvis up and down until you find the position that feels most comfortable for your lower back. This will result in your lumbar spine being in a gentle curve away from the floor. Begin by engaging your core muscles – drawing up your pelvic floor, pulling in your tummy button and squeezing in your oblique muscles in the waist.

    • Now strongly contract your buttock and hamstring muscles to press the planted foot into the ground and lift your lower body off the floor. Your ribs should remain in contact with the floor so there is no stress on the top part of your spine, shoulders or neck. Maintain a long line in your body and keep the core engaged, so your hips do not sag nor arch upwards.

      Works the…

      Hamstrings, buttocks & abdominals


      Engaging your core muscles will have the effect of bracing your lumbo-pelvic region, so your lower spine remains in the neutral position when you move, thus protecting it from potential injury.

    • Split lunge

      Stand a long stride length in front of a step, platform or chair, facing away from it. Raise your right leg and reach behind to rest the ball of your foot on the prop. Ensure your right foot is pointing down and not turned outwards, and that both feet are hip-width apart to help you stay balanced.

    • Bend your left leg and lower your body down, taking the rear right knee directly down towards the floor (be careful not to twist this rear knee). Go as low as you comfortably can then contract through your thighs and buttocks to lift you back to the starting position.

      Works the…

      Quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks,& abdominals


      Keep your tummy pulled in tight and your head up throughout the movement. If your front knee bends beyond your supporting foot at the bottom of the lunge, lengthen your stride position.

    • Side lunge

      Stand with your feet together, weight evenly balanced. Now take a wide step out to the right side with your right leg, placing your foot so that it points slightly outwards in the direction you are stepping.

    • In a smooth, continuous movement, bend your right knee, keeping your left leg straight and simultaneously hinge at the hip to reach your hands towards the ground. Next, drive through your right foot to push you back to the start position.

      Works the…

      Quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks & abdominals


      It’s important to focus on your alignment; when you hinge at the hip don’t round your spine, and keep your core engaged at all times and shoulder blades drawn back and down, away from your ears. Complete all 15 reps before changing sides – do not alternate.

    • Single calf raise

      Stand on one leg on a step platform or the bottom step of a flight of stairs. You can hold a handrail or use the wall for balance. Your foot should be placed right on the front of the step so the heel is hanging over the edge.

    • Roll onto the ball of your foot, lifting your heel as high as possible through a strong contraction in your calf muscles.
      Then lower down gently, working to your full comfortable range of motion, by dropping your heel below the level of the step.

      Works the…

      Calves & deep abdominals


      Throughout the exercise, ensure the knee on your standing leg is not locked out but slightly soft. If your balance will allow, you could try the exercise without holding on for support, as this will work your core muscles even harder.

    • Triceps press

      Assume a modified press-up position on the floor, resting on your knees with your feet lifted. But, instead of with a regular press up, your hands should be together, with thumbs open to form a diamond shape between your hands.

    • Bend your elbows to slowly lower your chest towards your hands, keeping your abdominals pulled in tight to maintain good alignment in the spine. Your elbows will point out to the side in this lowered position. Go as low as you can but you may find you can’t match the movement range of your normal press up, as this is a tough exercise. To push back up, use your triceps to extend the arms and lift you back to the start position, taking care to not lock out your elbows at the end of the movement.

      Works the…

      Tricep muscles & obliques

    • Plank lift

      Assume the plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your lower back in a comfortable position (i.e. your hips should not drop towards the floor nor your bottom stick up in the air). Pull in at the navel, the waist and up from your pelvic floor, to fix your hips in place.

    • Without anything else moving, slowly lift one leg to the side, hold steady and then lift the opposite arm out to the side. Aim for 15 reps in total, alternating sides on each rep.

      Works the…

      Abdominals, shoulders, buttocks & triceps


      The aim here is to challenge your core muscles to hold you in position, without twisting or dropping your hips. This is a tough exercise, so you might need to build from just a leg lift for a while, then progressing when you feel stronger.

    • V sit-up

      Lie on your back with your knees bent, so your feet are flat on the floor and your hands resting on your thighs.

    • Tightly tense your upper abdominals to lift your shoulders off the floor and reach your hands forwards. At the same time strongly contract the lower abdominals to lift your feet off the floor. When returning to the start position, lower down slowly, working against rather than with gravity.

      Works the…

      Deep abdominal muscles


      For additional benefit, try to hold the raised position for a couple of seconds before descending again. If you begin to feel stress in your neck muscles, place one hand behind your head for support and simply reach with the other hand as you lift up.

Dean Hodgkin