No gym? No problem! For centuries, even millennium, humans have shown what they can do with the bare essentials: their body. Just look at Greek statues. They epitomized the peak of physical strength and desire of what a “perfect” person should look like. Remember, they didn’t have bodybuilding magazines, supplements, or any specialized gear and the picture above is what they came up with. About as natural as you can get. Now, you might not want to look like a Greek god/goddess but it doesn’t hurt to train to look like one using your own body weight. Let’s be honest, most of us are 20+ pounds overweight so we have plenty to work with as resistance. Below is a list of several body weight feats of ‘strength’. Try it and see where you stack up. If you can’t, train until you can. Who knows? You might look like a Greek god/goddess by the time you accomplish these goals!
20 Pull-Ups (men)/8 Pull-Ups (women)
Marines are in GREAT shape (for the most part). One of the tests of strength Marines go through is the pull-up portion of their physical fitness test. In order to get a perfect score a Marine must execute 20 perfect, dead hang, no kipping/swinging/whatever pull-ups. Pull-ups build up your forearms, biceps, and back (latissimus dorsi). I rarely see someone with a bunch of pull-ups in their workouts who don’t look damn good. Practice your pull-ups!
Start with a chair or band to assist you. Work sets of 5 until you can do 5 sets of 5 reps. Keep going until you’re no longer using anything to assist your pull-ups. Once you build up to sets of 10 then it’s time to add weight to your body and pull even more! You’ll eventually hit 20 perfect pull-ups.
Run a 6 min. mile (men & women)
Running is not my specialty, especially when it comes to running fast. However, I have studied running mechanics and have improved my own run time to the point where I ran a 6:15 mile. For someone who used to run a 9 min. mile that’s one heck of an improvement! If you want to run fast(er) then you need to work on your running mechanics.
Unfortunately, this is very difficult to do on your own. I suggest seeking a local running club and learning from the fastest in the group. Try different styles until you find something that fits. Practice running 1/4 of a mile and take long rest periods. Repeat until you’ve completed a full mile. You’ll gradually improve your mechanics and, in turn, you’ll improve your run time. DO NOT RUN FOR DISTANCES GREATER THAN 1 MILE! This will NOT improve your run time. Yes, it will improve your cardio slightly but it will do very little to improve your VO2 max for short distance running.
100 Consecutive Pushups (men)/40 Consecutive Pushups (women)
For a long time this was considered the holy grail of upper body strength testing, especially in the military…..and for good reason! Pushups work your chest, triceps, shoulders, and core. Pushups are not that difficult to perform if you have them under your belt. Trying to get your first pushup can take a while but once you’re there the reps come pretty quickly. However, hitting triple digit pushups is a very lofty but realistic goal.
There are a hundred ways (pun intended) to reach 100 pushups in a row. I practiced my pushups at the end of my workouts 2-3x a week. My goal was to get to 100 with as few sets a possible. I would take 2-3 min. breaks before my next set. Once I could get to 80+ reps in a row I decided to test my pushup max at the beginning of my next workout. It worked! Again, this method worked for me but it might not for you. Test it for 2-3 months. If your numbers keep going up keep at it until you’re there. Yes, this is the least scientific “study” I’ve tested to reach 100 pushups but to paraphrase an old strength saying, “If you want to do a lot of pushups…..do A LOT of pushups.”
1-Leg Squat w/ weight (25% body weight for men) (15% body weight for women)
A 1-leg squat (aka pistol) may seem impossible for some. For men, lack of mobility will make this movement difficult but not impossible. For women, problems will arise when you try to do a pistol with weight. The reason I’ve made this a body weight strength test a goal are two: First, it’s an amazing way to improve leg strength when you don’t have weights to help you. Second, it’s an ‘eye opener’ for how imbalanced your hips and legs can be without a chiropractor or physical therapists assessment. You’ll notice one leg is either stronger or more mobile than the other . By training the pistol you’ll force both legs to have similar range of motion and strength. If you’re lucky, you might correct any imbalances you have and reduce/eliminate joint pain.
Second to 100 pushups, the pistol might take the longest time to achieve because it’s not just a strength-based movement but mobility based movement. Work on your ankle range of motion. The more mobile your ankle is, mainly in the dorsiflexion position (toes pulled back), the easier it will be to get into the bottom end of the pistol. Next, you’ll have to work on your glute (butt), hamstring, and quad strength. For glute strength, practice box pistols. It’ll allow you to work the pistol motion without having to go into full depth. Use barbell deadlifts (single and double leg) to improve hamstring strength and front squats to improve quad strength.
Handstand hold for 30 sec.
This is purely for fun! I don’t know about you but I think handstands are entertaining. Handstands have been known to improve blood circulation, depression, thyroid health, and more. The first step to having a great handstand is shoulder mobility. If you have stiff/tight shoulders (including pecs, triceps, biceps, and lats) then trying to hold yourself upside will be very difficult. The next step is to work on balance. Even if you’re strong and mobile your body awareness is thrown off. It takes time for your brain to understand what you are doing. The more time you spend upside down the better your equilibrium will be and you’ll have better balance in a handstand. I suggest getting the handstand series from Gymnastic Bodies.
STAY FIT MY FRIENDS!