Ways to Make Your Bodyweight Home Workouts More Challenging
Let it be known that you can totally get a great workout in with just bodyweight exercises.
...and with the situation we're all dealing with right now, thank goodness for that!
But maybe you're starting to feel like your workouts are becoming too easy now because you've been doing them consistently and therefore getting stronger with your exercises.
First of all, that's awesome and definitely something to be proud of!—so kuddos to you!
A lot of times, after nailing bodyweight exercises, the next progression is to add weights/resistance. And that's definitely encouraged, however, it's nearly impossible to buy dumbbells or pretty much any fitness equipment right now.
There's a lot of different ways to increase the intensity of bodyweight exercises and make them more challenging without the need for any equipment at all!
Here's some options to try:
Increase your time under tension & slow down the tempo
A general rule for time under tension (TUT) is that the longer the TUT, the more muscle 'damage' & therefore, muscle development. You can increase your TUT by slowing down your exercises. Getting your exercises done as fast as possible doesn’t mean your getting the most out of them. When you slow down the pace, *for many exercises*, you take momentum away and rely more on your true strength.
Take squats, for example. Instead of speeding through them, if you lower slowly and maybe even pause at the lowest point, then take your time squeezing back up, it makes the squat much more challenging because your muscles are under tension for a longer time.
Other added bonuses that come from slowing down some of your exercises is that you’ll actually be able to think about what you’re doing more and have better mind-body connection, and there’s added core engagement, too!
Cut down on your rest time
If you're doing high intensity workouts, try challenging yourself by decreasing the amount of time you rest between your sets, exercises, and/or rounds. For example, if you're going a HIIT workout and you typically rest 20 seconds after each exercise before beginning your next exercise, try to cut that rest time to 10-15 seconds, instead. Allowing for less rest time not only makes the workout more challenging, but it can also help with building endurance.
Pausing at different points in an exercise will help to amp up the intensity by increasing TUT AND removing any momentum.
Take squats as an example, again. If you pause at the lowest point in your squat, right before you start coming back up to the top, and hold for a second or two, then come back up, there's no momentum involved in returning back to the top. When you do squats quickly, there's natural momentum that helps you lift out of your squat. So if you want to up the ante on your exercises, put some pauses in them!
I love a good pulse.
This is one of my go-to’s for adding an extra burn to an exercise.
At the last rep of an exercise when you feel like you have almost nothing else left to give, hold at the most challenging part of the exercise and add some quick, tiny pulses to get even deeper into the muscles for that extra ouch.
Try this with a glute bridge…at the last rep, hold at the top, squeeze your glutes and quickly pulse to lift a tiny bit higher than your previous normal-paced reps. That'll fire up your buns a lil extra, so embrace it!
Switch up your stance
Standing shoulder width apart with a slight bend in your knees isn’t the only stance to follow.
Try a split stance, which is usually easier on the back and promotes a strong posture. Keep in mind that the wider the split stance, the more balanced you will be.
If you want more core engagement during an upper body strength exercise, like a lateral raise, shoulder press, or bicep curl, for example, get down to a kneeling stance.
Another stance you can try is standing with your feet close together. The closer the feet are together, the tougher the core challenge due to testing your balance *depending on the exercise*.
Add different variations to exercises
This is another one that I'm a big fan of!
Mountain climbers seem too easy? How about doing a push up for every 10 mountain climbers & repeating that!? That'll definitely increase the intensity.
Or maybe plank jacks are too easy on your palms now—try them in a low (elbow) plank instead, or maybe add some spider plank crunches in with your plank jacks.
There's SO many different variations you can add to exercises that a lot of people don't even realize. Sometimes you just have to get creative...it'll pay off!
Increase your reps
Might sound super obvious, but it's still important to mention.
If your exercises are not longer challenging you, add more reps. The more reps, the more training volume & stress your muscles will be under.
If 10 pushups at a time feel like nothing to you anymore, bump it up to 15 or 20 at a time!
We can always find ways to challenge ourselves more with our workouts, so if you still don't have access to a gym, don't let that be your excuse.
Hope these strategies are helpful & motivate you to get movin'!