Naturally different people will have different answers but it is hard to beat push ups, pull ups and sprint repeats for complete body conditioning. If everyone focused there time on mastering and progressing these bodyweight exercises the world would be a much fitter place!
Push Ups / Pull Ups – The ability to push and pull your body off the ground is an excellent measure of relative strength (how strong you are for your size.) Furthermore achieving good performance in either exercise is enhanced by losing excess body fat and getting leaner which is a common goal shared by many.
Sprint Repeats – Sprinting is one of the most powerful and natural movement patterns which synergistically builds strength in the foot, lower leg, upper leg and hips whilst also providing a great cardiovascular workout. As a complete exercise for improving your strength, fitness and physique few things can compete.
The pull up is an excellent exercise for your back, arms and mid-section. You against gravity!
- Grab hold of an overhead bar or suspension trainer
- Arms should be approximately shoulder width apart
- Your feet should be suspended off the ground.
- Hold your body straight
- Or allow your knees to bend if you don’t have the space underneath
- Keep your shoulders down
- Tense your glutes and abs then pull yourself up as far past the bar or handles as possible
- Imagine trying to touch your chest to the bar
- Pause then lower yourself down under control until your arms are fully extended
A great exercise for strengthening the chest, shoulders and triceps. Like the pull ups this move should also engage your glutes and core muscles throughout.
- Place your hands directly underneath your shoulders, fingers pointing forwards
- Squeeze your glutes and brace your midsection
- Descend until you are almost touching the floor
- Pause, then push back to the start position
- Keep your elbows tucked in close to the body during the movement
- Make sure your whole body moves as one single straight line
- Don’t let your hips drop/rise quicker than your shoulders or vice versa
- To add difficulty wear a weighted vest or use resistance bands
In my experience the most common complaint of being unfit occurs after people have rushed for a train, dashed up a flight of stairs or been left gasping by a game of social sport. The ability to sprint short distances, quickly recover and go again will ensure these complaints never bother you again!
- Measure or eyeball an approximate 50m running track
- Sprint to the finish, rest and repeat
- Repeat for a total of 3+ sprints trying to minimise the drop-off in sprint time
- To progress try sprinting for further, repeat for more rounds or reduce rest
Be aware this is a full body, explosive activity and as such may not be suitable for everyone. If it has been a long time since you last sprinted you will want to make sure you have a basic level of strength and mobility in your lower body before easing your way back into this type of activity slowly and carefully