Sometimes we don’t have 2 hours to get to the gym, warm up, work out, cool down, shower, and drive home. Sometimes a pesky thing called “real life” gets in the way, and we’re forced to do adult behavior like “going to work”, “meeting with clients”, or “feeding the children”. Those are the times you need fast and easy bodyweight exercises to get a pump, boost your energy, and get you out the door in a hurry.
Here are 3 bodyweight exercises that you can do in a hurry, that will help you look great in a T-shirt by hitting the all important bi’s and tri’s – but will also work on the posture muscles. Good posture is tied to confidence, and confidence is the difference between dominating your day or getting dominated by it.
The Bodyweight Exercises
Ab Wheel Roll Out
The Ab Wheel Roll Out is a staple of anyone looking for that v-taper. Wide lats, a narrow waist, and big triceps are all hallmarks of someone who’s strong at this move.
Unfortunately, most of the time this move is butchered by regular gym goers. Don’t be the guy knocking out 20 half reps, looking like you’re on the verge of pooping out your spine. We’ve all seen him and it’s not good.
If you don’t have an ab wheel at home, you can do this move on a suspension trainer on your toes or knees. Just grab the handles instead of the wheel, hold the same body position, and allow yourself to fall forward.
Start off with the ab wheel directly below your shoulders and your body straight from the top of your head to your knees. This means “DON’T STICK YOUR BUTT OUT”
From that position, flex your abs like a little baby crunch and squeeze your glutes. This is still the set up, because you can’t do the exercise right if you’re not already in a solid body position.
NOW, push your hands forward and let the body follow naturally. To start, only go out 6-12 inches before returning. The distance traveled DOES NOT MATTER. The only important thing in this exercise is how much internal tension you can generate.
As you pull back in, make sure that you’re not pushing your butt back to make it easier. The only movement should happen at the shoulder, as the body should be locked into a strong position.
Repeat, going a little farther every time, until you find your limit.
Horizontal rowing should be a big part of your program if you’re looking for long term results and healthy shoulders. You should be doing at least 2x as much pulling as pushing, and of the pulling exercises, at least 2x more horizontal pulling (rows) than vertical pulling (pullups/pulldowns).
This move trains biceps and forearms which are important for looking good in a T-shirt, but it also trains the upper and mid back – the true sign of a strong person. By forcefully retracting your shoulder blades, you’ll reinforce good posture, and look taller and leaner without actually losing weight.
You can do this move on a bar, as pictured, or on a suspension trainer.
Make sure you’re pulling the shoulder blades back first and then pulling with the arms.
If you feel this move in the front of your shoulders, focus on pulling the shoulders away from the ears and think about “pinching a pencil” between the shoulder blades at the mid back.
Keep the hips up so your body is in a table-top position. Squeeze the glutes to hold this position. Again, this reinforces good posture and helps eliminate potential low back pain.
Again, the focus is core, but with additional movement in order to target arms while we train abs. All 3 of these bodyweight exercises should be full body moves that incorporate a lot of muscle groups and allow you to get a great workout in a limited time.
You can do this exercise by alternating sides like shown in the video, or you can do all one side first, then the second side if you’re really interested in a serious triceps burn.
Hold a strong pushup position plank first. You know what this means – flex abs, squeeze glutes. Now from the pushup position, drop the left elbow onto the ground, then the right elbow to lower yourself into a low plank position.
Now repeat the opposite starting with the left side. Put the hand on the ground and push yourself back up. Then put your right hand on the ground to finalize the move.
Make sure you’re not rocking back and forth as you change positions. Your goal should be to hold a cup of water on your back without spilling, if you so desired.
Option 1: AMRAP
If you’re running short on time but need a quick workout, set a timer for as much time as you have 10-20 minutes would be plenty.
Do as many rounds of the following as you can in your time limit.
Ab Wheel Roll Out x 4
Inverted Row x 8
Plank Walk x 4 each side.
This is designed to be easy enough to repeat several times without getting fatigued, but should allow you to get enough volume to have a great workout.
A great goal would be 1 round of each per minute.
Option 2: Timed Sets
You can also time your sets, which will be a little bit sweatier – but you’ll definitely feel this one.
Ab Wheel Roll Out x 45 seconds
Rest 15 sec
Inverted Row x 45 seconds
Rest 15 seconds
Plank Walk x 25 seconds each side.
Rest 60 seconds between rounds.
Do you have a favorite workout when you’re short on time? What bodyweight exercises are your go-to’s?