BODYWEIGHT TRAINING CAN sometimes be your last resort when you don’t have access to equipment, but you can create a brutally effective solo workout on days when the gym isn’t an option. The biggest problem most guys have with these types of routines is that they feel like they have to do hundreds of reps to get the most out of their workout. Body weight becomes synonymous with boredom and it will never be an incentive to move.

Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case. You may think your options are limited, but there are plenty of exercises and tweaks to turn a basic bodyweight routine into big body gains without falling asleep.

Doing this requires more than just a list of exercises, according to Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS. This means staying tactical with your training while avoiding some common bodyweight mistakes we’ve all likely made in our training history.

“It doesn’t have to be boring,” Samuel says of bodyweight training. “And it doesn’t have to be just a fallback way to train when you can’t get to the gym. The truth is, you can make a ton of gains, you can have very effective workouts, and you You can achieve all of your goals with bodyweight training.

Put Samuel’s advice into practice and avoid these common mistakes when training without equipment.

4 bodyweight training mistakes to avoid

You avoid progressive overload

    Knocking out rep after rep after rep after rep of the standard pushups isn’t just boring, you’ll also miss other progressive overload opportunities, which is how you gain muscle and strength. Repetitions are important when it comes to bodyweight training, but volume isn’t the only factor you can change when working with a fixed weight (your body).

    Instead, consider these two options:

    Change levels and angles

    If you can knock out 25 floor pushups, it’s time to change the angle to increase the difficulty level. Raising your feet on a bench, sofa or other raised platform will increase the challenge by changing the range of motion.

    Add unilateral movements

    Take archer pushups for example: if you’re doing 25 reps on your standard pushups, moving to archer pushups – in which you target one arm at a time – will challenge you in a different way, slanting one side of your chest. This becomes a more effective method of progressive overload than simply stacking reps.

    You use Momentum

      Bodyweight movements can be harder than we think. Think how hard it can be to do strict reps. Sometimes it becomes convenient to let momentum dominate our reps in order to complete each set – again, think about pull-ups.

      Samuel suggests adding pauses to your reps at certain movement points — consider turning push-ups or pull-ups into a two-step movement — as a way to get the most out of your workout by adding extra time under tension.

      You ignore your back muscles

        Push-ups and core movements are must-have exercises for bodyweight workouts. They’re great, but you have to work to avoid falling into the training trap of overworking the muscles on the front (anterior) side of your body while neglecting the posterior muscles, especially in the back. It will not only be a problem of functional symmetry; you also don’t gain the back strength needed for a well-rounded physique. Pull-ups, reverse rows, and Superman holds are all viable bodyweight back training options that should be done at least twice a week. Look at it this way: Matching the front and back exercises from set to set will help keep you injury-free.

        You’re not using explosive drills correctly

        Congratulations, you are one of the few people who enjoy doing burpees, but doing too many explosive movements leads to muscle imbalances. Or maybe you only do push-ups and pull-ups when you train without equipment, and you’re missing an important element of general fitness.

        Instead, choose three explosive moves for your strength workouts. Two sets of 20 seconds on/40 seconds off is all the conditioning you’ll need – it only takes six minutes – to elevate your heart rate, build explosiveness and slim your physique.

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          Jeff Tomko is a freelance fitness writer who has written for Muscle and Fitness, Men’s Fitness, and Men’s Health.

          Brett Williams, fitness editor at Men’s Health, is an NASM-CPT certified trainer and former professional football player and tech journalist who divides his training time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts and running. You can find his work elsewhere at Mashable, Thrillist, and other outlets.

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