Working out without a gym (4 tips to work out anytime, anywhere)

Training and working out requires consistency. Sure, skipping a workout every now and then isn’t the end of the world, and even skipping a week every few months is doable – if you can get back to training afterwards.

But most of us lose motivation when we skip a few workouts. After a break, it’s hard to get ourselves back to the gym – most people tend to lose motivation as soon as they go slightly off track. I know this from experience: I’ve been training on-and-off for the last 11 years. But sooner or later, I always had to skip a workout – beating myself up over it, but failing to get myself back on track afterwards.

It shouldn’t be like that, but for most of us, it is. For the past 4 years, I haven’t ever skipped a single workout: I train on my skiing trips, on vacation, when visiting relatives or friends, and even at festivals. Now, it wouldn’t hurt my motivation anymore to skip a workout every now and then – but I’ve found ways to be able to train anywhere, so I see no reason to intentionally start skipping on my workouts.

1. Learn calisthenics!

Calisthenics are bodyweight exercises, requiring minimal to no equipment. Most of us are familiar with the basics – push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups –, but there are great exercises for every muscle group! Almost anything you can do in a gym has an equivalent bodyweight exercise. The difficulty of these exercises is also adjustable – just like the weights in the gym – so if you learn calisthenics, you can truly work out anywhere!

2. Buy some basic equipment

To have more options when choosing your exercises, you should buy some basic equipment! Machines, kettlebells, and even dumbbells aren’t transportable – at least not easily –, so, you should stick to light-weighted transportable equipment that enable you to do a wide range of new exercises. Large, heavy, or specialized equipment are almost useless, since you probably won’t be able to take those with you anywhere.

My top recommendations to buy are:

Using only these pieces of equipment – and your own bodyweight –, you can truly replicate any exercise you can do in the gym.

3. Train like a bodybuilder

When doing calisthenics, a lot of people make the mistake of training just for fun, doing power-moves, or not being as strict with themselves as they would be in a gym. You have to realize, that in order to experience the full benefits of all of your workouts, you have to stick to reps, sets, and timed rest-periods.

Stick to your regular training routine – whether it’s some sort of a split training, or a full-body workout – just change the exercises whenever you don’t have access to a gym! If you have a push day for example, stick to upper-body push exercises (push-up variations, dips, band push-downs, etc.) – whether you’re doing them in the gym or not!

Find exercises that cause you to stay within your normal rep-range, and adjust the difficulty of the bodyweight exercises – by adding bands, or changing the angle of your body for example – to make sure you challenge your muscles! Do a certain number of sets for each exercise, and time your rest-periods between your sets – just like you would in the gym. Push yourself hard, and a bodyweight-session can be a great substitute for a workout at the gym!

4. Stay focused

It’s easy to lose focus when doing bodyweight exercises. For someone with limited experience in calisthenics, it’s not that hard for a strength workout to turn into a cardio-session. Similarly, by picking the wrong exercises – like doing burpees on a chest-triceps day – you might be causing yourself to give in early because of fatigue in some other muscle-group (for example, your legs or your cardiovascular system when it comes to burpees).

Do all of your reps with proper form, and with proper speed: if you just race through your workout to do as many push-ups as possible, you’ll get less results than you would if you’d slow yourself down while focusing on good form – even if that causes you to ultimately do less reps. If done right, your bodyweight workouts shouldn’t be any shorter nor easier than your regular gym workouts.

If you’re like me, you enjoy hitting the gym for a good workout way more than training in a living-room, on a playground, or out in nature. But sometimes we don’t have a choice. While it is true, that skipping a workout every now-and-then won’t set you back at all in your fitness journey, it’s even better to find ways to be able to get a good workout in wherever you are. How do you manage to train when you don’t have access to a gym? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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