You may think you have to be in a specific place to exercise, but it’s not necessary. Common exercise spaces are definitely motivating, but aren’t the key to a successful or consistent routines. You can still workout in small spaces.
The lack of access to these spaces, such as gyms, parks, or even specially-designed calisthenics are also a common excuse to avoid or put off exercise. Once you start to find reasons not to exercise, you’ll only blame those same excuses for holding you back. Believe me, I’ve been there….until I found the “no Space” Workout.
It can bury all my excuses six feet under. So whether you’re on a trip, stuck in the hotel room, or have a really tight schedule, I have a routine that will work for you.
What Is The ‘No Space’ Workout?
First things first, don’t misunderstand the meaning of “No Space”. It means you can exercise with very little space, even if it’s only 2m x 2m. It’s still enough space to work out. I came up with the term to trick myself, so I can’t make up excuses to avoid exercise.
Now, the beauty of bodyweight or calisthenics exercise is that your body is the limit. This means you can express your body with basic movements, as well as variations of that movement.
There are a lot of ‘no space’ exercises you can start out with. The movements that are ideal for small spaces include Push-Ups, Dips, Squats, Lunges, Crunches, Leg Raises, Sit-Ups, High Knees, Jumping Jacks, Mountain Climber, and Burpees. You name it, calisthenics has it, and uses it regularly to help athletes master movement.
And in case you don’t notice, all of those are the most basic exercises that don’t need for any equipment too!!!
So why don’t you make a workout program from those huge lists of exercises?
“Wait, I already have a program I must follow…is it ok?”
The idea of a “no space” workout is to keep you exercising when you have no place to do it. You can use the basic movements to create a workout program that isn’t restricted by space. This won’t take away from your typical program. Instead, this helps you keep a routine even when you’re traveling or busy and need to workout in small spaces.
In fact, in my experience, it will help you to get some variation in your exercise and keep you away from the boring feeling of only following your program.
You could follow the standard, basic workout, with 3 sets of 10 push-ups, 3 sets of 10 squats, 3 sets of 10 dips, etc.
What I suggest, though, is to make it more efficient by using full-body exercises, while training in a shorter amount of time and doing a circuit.
All you need is a timer. You can use a timer app, your basic mobile phone timer, or even your watch.
Now pick your kind of exercises. I personally always pick 4 different kinds of exercises. My favorites are Jumping Jacks, Push-Ups, Squats and Mountain Climber. And as you can see, my pick already consists of Cardio, upper body, and lower body exercises.
Here’s My Personal Routine:
1. 20 seconds of Jumping Jacks
2. 20 seconds of Push-up (any progression you can do)
3. 20 seconds of Squats
4. 20 seconds of Mountain Climber
5 – 10 rounds, with a rest-time of up to 2 minutes between rounds. If you catch your breath before the 2 minutes are up, then you can go for another round.
Next-Level Workout In Small Spaces
If you feel that these exercises are too easy for you, then feel free to change and take it up a notch.
Here’s my next-level routine:
1. 20 seconds Running High Knee
2. 20 seconds Explosive Push-up
3. 20 seconds Jumping Lunges
4. 20 seconds half burpee
Now you can see how easy it is to workout with very little space.
Don’t Forget To Keep Perfect Form
You should maintain perfect form for each exercise, so it’s not necessary to go as fast as you can in 20 seconds. You have to do as much as you can in perfect form, that’s what will make your exercises count and bring the result you always want. As long as your form is good, it doesn’t matter that if you exercise in gyms, parks, or workout in small spaces.
There you have it.
Now, when you think you can’t find a place to work out, you’ll immediately remember the “no space” workout thing.
I bet you have a lot of ideas pop up. Then why don’t you try this “no space” workout and share with me how it feels and what kind of exercises you do?
“Whether you’re on a trip, stuck in the hotel room, or have a really tight schedule, I have a routine that will work for you.”
“You can exercise with very little space, even if it’s only 2m x 2m. It’s still enough space to work out.”
This is a post outlining the two main strategies we use inside Calisthenics Academy to make sure that the training for our athletes is optimal.
We use deep personalisation and autoregulation to create training that is adjusts based on our athletes needs. Today I want to talk about autoregulation.
SECRET WEAPON #1. AUTOREGULATION
Adapt to your changing needs to train productively for the rest of your life
It’s not that difficult to push yourself for a few weeks and make a lot of improvement.
But it isn’t any good if you stop after that, which is what most of the people do.
The only sustainable way to include training in your life for good is to think long term and adjust training based on how you’re feeling.
The truth is that there are many variables affecting your training
Sleep, emotional stress, illness, work, energy levels and diet all significantly influence training.
There are days when you feel great and on the top of the world and you just power through your workout. Other days you might be feeling really bad. Some weeks are amazing, some are miserable.
And unfortunately, there are too many variables to predict and plot how you’ll be performing on a specific day to then schedule the right kind of workout.
The old school of thought would say that you just need to push through it and train, but the truth is that these are real variables. Instead of fighting against them, you should work with them to make your training more effective.
How can you do that, you ask?
By using a fancy strategy called autoregulatory training.
It just means changing how you set up your workout session. Auto-Regulatory Training (AT) uses your current performance in comparison to past sessions to help you make intelligent changes to your program. It takes how you’re feeling as well as actual progress into account to help you plan your next session.
AT wants to help athletes find the balance between the stress of training to actual readiness. It’s designed to help individuals workout according to their changing needs so that the training remains regular and consistent.
For example, the difficulty of a workout can vary greatly based on the athlete’s recovery, rather than the actual physical challenge of the routine. It allows the athlete to build their own workout based on their recovery in addition to their progress. It’s an amazing tool that has been proven to accelerate strength rehabilitation more efficiently than traditional methods.
AT believes that the athlete knows their needs best. Their awareness can then be used to program their overall program, which will greatly improve performance and progress.
So how do we rate this readiness?
Auto-Regulatory Training IN REAL LIFE
In an ideal world, you’d optimize your training sessions by adjusting your sets, reps, and intensity based on how hard is to perform the exercise in your current session.
In practice, that’d mean that the coach would give you a number of sets and reps to perform. S/he’d ask after each round or even each exercise how that felt and adjust based on your answer.
Here’s how we translate that for you to use to autoregulate your current or next session: ever heard of Rating of Perceived Exertion?
Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)
It’s a scale we use to help AT by being aware of the level of effort and exertion you put into your exercise.
Here’s how it goes:
RPE, also called “The Borg Rating Scale of Perceived Exertion” was developed by Gunnar Borg (surprise, surprise) in the early 1980s. It was first used to gauge aerobic training, but soon became a tool to clinically analyse breathlessness and dyspnea, chest pain, angina and musculo-skeletal pain.
Overall, it’s a reliable tool for you to track your day-to-day training and how it compares to past sessions. This will help you in the long-term, teaching you how be aware of the impact your training had on your body and the kind of effort you put into your sessions. This will impact how you react to hitting a plateau during a workout. Rather than pressure yourself about your lack of progress, it will push you to just relax and accept the current situation while encouraging you to do better in the future.
Our current Calisthenics Academy Scale
Over time we were experimenting between a 3-point scale and 5 point scale to adjust the sets and reps. After a year of training athletes, we know that the 5-point scale gives us more data points and overally works better. The smaller scale simply wasn’t giving us enough data, but we still needed a simple version of the RPE.
This is a really important part of the training routine and it will work magic to help you with your progress. It’ll also help you build awareness of you body and take your training to the next level.
So after every single exercise you do, we’ll ask, “How hard was it to complete that set of reps?” and adjust your next set based on your feedback.
This is how the adjustements look now inside the Calisthenics Academy
Calisthenics Academy assessment
We also have a sheet for offline workouts. This is an example of a 5 point scale:
WHY IS AUTOREGULATION A GAME-CHANGER?
With AT, all you need to do is get your workout started rather than try to predict how it’ll go beforehand.
This also means that no matter how you feel, the workout is always enjoyable.
What kind of difference would that make for your mindset knowing that every workout, no matter how you feel, is good and it’s moving you one step closer to your goals?
I let go of my expectations and just took my training one day at a time. I took it all in stride, the good and the bad alike. I stopped overthinking and worrying, and it’s helped me stick to my training whether it felt satisfying or not. Whether I felt like it was a good workout or not. Whether I was in the right mindset that day or not.
This is the key to lifelong training.
What would it feel like to never have to give up on another fitness program again?
The truth is that you showing up, aware of how your body’s feeling and adjusting based on that, will give you more gains long term than you’d expect.
Also, how amazing would it be to have the most effective training ever, just because you’re listening to your body’s needs?
No more feelings of disappointment or like you’re not moving forward. You always are.
Want a more optimal training?
Check out Calisthenics Academy or take a FREE Assesment to see how do you stack up on 8 main calisthenics fundamentals
Over the next few weeks, we will be posting The (Free) Complete Guide to Gymnastics Ring Training, starting with the introduction below!
In the series, I will detail the exercises you should do to steadily improve your bodyweight Calisthenic skills using your rings. As you read, you’ll get to discover all of my insider tricks and tips to help you progress as fast as possible, FOR FREE!
So let’s get started.
The very first thing I recommend to anyone new to bodyweight calisthenics is to find a good pair of gymnastics rings. To my dismay, this suggestion is often met with hesitation.
For some reason, gymnastics rings are a lot more intimidating than they need to be. The misconception is that you have to be at an Olympic skill level to make use of them.
They’ve been used to Build Strength For Centuries!
Gymnastics Rings and calisthenics have proven over nearly two hundred years that they can be used as a stand-alone method to gain unparalleled amounts of strength AND balance.
In the first gymnasiums of the 20th century, gymnastics rings were a staple everywhere. For some inexplicable reason, they slowly lost their popularity. Recently, they’ve been rediscovered as a top way to increase both strength and balance for all athletes.
With rings, you can train every single major muscle group in your body without having to pick up a single weight. But the best benefit is, that as long as you have a sturdy place to which to attach the rings, you will never have to leave the comforts of your own home or local park, AGAIN!
No more ridiculous gym membership fees. No more waiting for equipment at the gym. Your workouts on your own time, where you want them to be. It can’t get any better than that.
Best Travel Workout Known To Man
I travel A LOT. Before I became obsessed with bodyweight calisthenics, training on the road was an exercise in futility. Never knowing what equipment the hotel gym had (if any) made it hard for my Type A personality to feel like I was accomplishing anything with my training.
So discovering rings was like a revelation. Now, when I travel, I don’t have to book hotels based on their gym. I have my gym packed with me!
EVERYONE Should Train With Rings
Like I said earlier, you can get a full-body workout using just rings alone, no matter what your skill level is. The most magnificent attribute of rings is that EVERYONE can use them. ALL of the “complex” exercises done on rings start out with basic calisthenic movements that make them approachable as a starting point in your training and to build your strength and skill up over time.
Exercises like push-ups, bodyweight rows, and pull-ups, or even modified pull-ups, are greatly enhanced by using gymnastics rings even by beginners.
Rings Help To Avoid Nagging Injuries
The reason that even the most basic exercises are enhanced so much is the freedom of movement that rings give you as well as the benefits that this provides to not only your muscles, but to your CNS (central nervous system).
Through my years of training with and without weights, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve triggered or instigated nagging wrist, shoulder, or elbow injuries by doing simple calisthenic moments like push-ups, pull-ups or dips.
The problem is that when performing these exercises, your arms are basically locked into one plane of motion – i.e. there isn’t much freedom for your joints to move.
This means that if you are interested in bodyweight training (I hope so if you’re reading this!) doing the required practice to build up your skills can lead to overuse injuries in your wrists, shoulders, and/or your elbows.
This is why gymnastics rings are a godsend.
They eliminate nearly all of this risk because they allow your body to move in all three planes of motion, which take A LOT of pressure off of your joints
Boost Your Balance
A bonus benefit of this extra movement is that it also trains your CNS to be in sync with your body. Not only are you training your muscles to be stronger, you’re developing your sense of balance.
This is why gymnasts can easily pick up other activities like surfing, skateboarding, etc. or generally any sport faster than most other kinds of athletes.
This improvement in your CNS system is demonstrated the first time a beginner tries to simply balance themselves, without moving, on rings. You will notice their body (arms & torso) shaking quite a bit. This is because their muscles are not used to being free to move in any direction with only the slightest force causing that movement. Their muscles might be very strong indeed, but the neural pathways to their brain are clogged with noise that manifests itself by shaking.
Over time the shaking goes away as those neural pathways are cleared. Your CNS is now strong enough to exhibit pure strength on the rings.
Levers are king in the world of men’s gymnastics. Athletes spend years refining their technique and bolstering the strength of their upper bodies to inhuman levels to perform feats of strength that appear to completely defy the laws of gravity.
Pound for pound gymnasts are the strongest athletes in the world with the ability to leverage their own body weight with completely straight arms. These skills are referred to as levers for that reason. Levers are not mere feats of strength but of skill, balance, control and dedication as well. Training to develop levers develops abilities and skills you will never come even close to with any other type of training. The isometric nature of levers means that training this way puts strain on your tendons and in turn strengthens them to unheard of levels. They also build immense amounts of strength in the torso musculature. And these are just a few from tons of benefits. I strongly encourage you to explore what levers can do for you and build strength you never thought of
What makes all this training worth it?
Why are levers such a key ability in the gymnast’s skill set?
How can a calisthenics athlete or even an average person benefit from straight arm strength training?
Let’s take a look.
1. Builds a bulletproof rotator cuff
Leveraging your body with straight arms utilizes the shoulder muscles to a large degree. Your body will recruit the smaller stabilizing muscles in the shoulder girdle in order to keep the scapula in the proper position to facilitate the movement. Any bending of the arms in a lever movement will transfer some portion of the load to the upper arm muscles therefore decreasing the work the shoulders are required to perform. This kind of strength training will transform your shoulders into a solid rack upon which weight can safely be borne, whether it be internal or external.
2. Strengthens the back and core, enhancing midline stability
You will build exceptional strength in the back muscles such as the lats, rhomboids and spinal erectors, as well as in your abdomen. All of these muscles working together support your spine and maintain posture. This effect has a tremendous carryover to different athletic endeavors such as weightlifting when you perform a squat, because your entire torso functions collectively as a solid foundation rather than twisting and collapsing under pressure.
3. Enhances control and awareness during upper body movements
Training to master the various lever skills requires that you pay close attention to body position in space. All of the pieces of your body must be working in unison and must be coordinated by your mind as such. This is a meditative practice as much as it is a physical one. Focus must be entirely set on performing the movement to the best of your ability. Only through practice with body awareness will you become the strongest you can be.
That’s all pretty incredible when you think about it.
But there is a lot more to it like SKILL TRANSFER like in this guy
Today, I decided to do some muscleups for a change of pace and was amazed at how easy they were, in spite of the fact that I haven’t done any in months. What really surprised me was how smooth and slowly I was able to do them. In the past, I would have to put some explosiveness into them to get thru the transition, while today I was able to pull up and thru the transition with far less effort than before. A nice, unexpected carryover !
Now that you know all the benefits, its time to get training.
First off, if you’re new to gymnastic rings, start with my previous article that covers gymnastic grips.It’s necessary to learn how to walk before you run. There are several reason why using gymnastic rings are better than more common forms of exercise, like weight lifting and cardio. For starters, rings require an adjustment in how your muscles communicate with your brain.
Unlike weights, rings are less stable, and require a lot of mental focus to properly manage. On my first time up on the rings it looked like someone was shocking me with an invisible taser. My muscles were twitching, my whole body was shaking uncontrollably, and I had a particularly goofy expression on my face. The slightest shift in balance can cause the rings to move, therefore, significant core strength is necessary for all exercises. [tweet_box design=”box_11″]After a few session on the rings, you’ll increase your mental focus, core strength and coordination.[/tweet_box]
Here are a few simple exercises to get you started:
1. Reverse Row
Use a neutral grip and hold yourself below the rings as you walk your feet forward, almost like a reverse plank position. Keep your legs straight, pull torso as far as you can forward , then slowly come down.
5-7 reps per set
Start with a neutral grip below the rings. Keep your shoulders down and your chest up. Pull yourself straight up and come down slowly. No kipping! This isn’t Crossfit. There are many grip variations so I would recommend starting with neutral grip (easiest), then trying outward facing grip (intermediate), eventually moving towards inward facing grip (difficult).
3-6 reps per set
[tweet_box design=”box_11″]Use a false grip and push yourself above the rings. Keep your arms straight and by your sides.[/tweet_box] Roll your shoulders back, don’t shrug, and hold.
10 seconds per set
Get yourself into the Top position but this time you should be in the above-the-rings grip. Keep your shoulders down and don’t let your shoulders drop past rings as you go down. As you push up to full arm extension, turn your wrists out.
3-5 reps per set
Tuck L-Sits (Intermediate)
Once you feel confident with the Top Position, you can move onto the Tuck and L-sit. From the Top Position, bring your knees to your stomach and be sure not to round your back. If you’re feeling wild, straighten your leg forward so that they’re parallel to the ground.
10 seconds per set
If you’ve mastered all the above movements and are convinced you’re God of the Rings, (Sounds like a sequel to The Hobbit), the Muscle-up will be a much needed reality check. Start with a false grip while hanging from the rings, and pull yourself up with enough momentum to get your chest above the rings and hands in your armpits. Lean forward and push straight up, keeping your elbows by your side the whole time. Keep your posture upright and turn the rings out, just like in Top Position, then let yourself back down slowly into the false grip.
3-6 Reps per set
At first, repeat with as many sets as you feel comfortable with. Universal Rule of the Rings (again, sounds like a great sequel to The Hobbit): Your core and leg muscles need to be stable, meaning zero movement and momentum during each exercise. Not just for form but as an exercise itself. Keeping your lower body stable requires just as much muscle activation as the pushing and pulling of your upper body.
The underlying theme of gymnastic-ring training is patience. If you can only do one pull-up initially, thats okay. Next time go for two. Everyone has to start somewhere, those who succeed are patient with themselves.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m always looking to provide readers with the best advice possible. Your feedback in the comments below is a great way to continue the conversation.
The problem, however, is that people don’t know how to make them progressively more challenging over time.
A smart training program will get you relatively proficient at basic push-ups on the floor quite quickly, and once someone is capable of performing 30+ reps in a row, they tend to start favoring other movements like the bench press as their primary upper body horizontal pushing exercise for lower rep strength work.
Then again, some trainees set their sights on hitting a round number like 50 or 100 push-ups as a short-term goal but even then, the focus is on improving muscular endurance via higher reps as opposed to working and making gains in the traditional strength and hypertrophy rep ranges (5-12 reps or so per set).
Thus, push-ups are often labeled a “beginner exercise”, and drastically overlooked as a strength building exercise by many gym-goers.
So how does one go about making push-ups challenging for even the more advanced trainee?
Enter Gymnastic Rings
Gymnastic rings are one of the cheapest and most versatile training tools money can buy, and an excellent addition in your workouts for enhancing upper body strength and size once regular push-ups on the floor become a walk in the park.
Due to the added instability factor, the rings require significantly more stabilizer strength than when hands are kept firmly on the ground. Consequently, you’ll feel push-ups on rings much more in your abs and experience some amazing chest pumps.
A few key pointers for all of the following ring push-up variations:
– squeeze your glutes and brace the abs
– try to maintain full body tension
– don’t allow sagging of the hips
– own the eccentric part of the movement by lowering under control
Variation #1 – Weighted Ring Push-Up
This is your standard ring push-up with added resistance. Wear a weight vest or add weight plates on your back.
You’ll notice that as long as you have a capable spotter helping out once the poundages start climbing into heavy territory, you’ll be able to externally load ring push-ups for quite some time.
I would consider two 20 kg (45 lbs) plates a decent feat for a male in this exercise – provided that full range of motion is being used and the lower back stays flat throughout the movement. Three or four plates (60-80 kg) of added weight would already be “strong” in my eyes.
Variation #2 – Wide Ring Push-Up
As you’re descending into the wide push-up, turn your palms so that they’re facing your feet and spread the rings out to your sides.
Variation #3 – Ring Flye
While technically not a push-up, the ring flye nevertheless provides for an excellent variation as you inch towards more and more demanding ring push-up progressions.
As with the wide push-up, keep pushing the rings out and away from you but this time keep the palms facing each other. The straighter the arms, the more difficult this movement becomes.
Variation #4 – Ring Archer Push-Up
Here you’ll straighten one arm as you’re descending while keeping the other arm firmly tucked in close by your side, resembling an archer aiming and ready to fire an arrow at his target in the bottom position.
As you’re coming back up, think of simultaneously pushing with the arm closer to you and pulling with the straight arm to return back to the starting position.
Notice that as I’m going down, I shift my body away from the arm I’m straightening, which is an easier variation of the ring archer push-up. You can make this movement even harder by keeping your body completely still from the chest down throughout the exercise.
Variation #5 – Ring Modified Planche Push-Up
As you’re lowering into the push-up, start turning your hands so that your palms end up facing your face slightly before hitting rock bottom, then maintain hand position until you’ve gone all the way down.
Reverse the motion when coming back up into starting position.
Variation #6 – RTO Push-Up
These are A LOT HARDER than they look.
It takes a great deal of strength to prevent the rings from turning back in in this position and you’ll be shaking like Robert Downey Jr. during heroin withdrawal while trying to maintain control of them in the middle of a rep when first giving these bad boys a go.
As you can see in the video, my right arm struggles slightly to keep the right ring from turning back in (rep #2 looked pretty good though).
Most people will not be able to do RTO push-ups in a smooth manner with their palms fully facing away from them at first. Start with the rings at 45 degrees and work your way forward from there, opening them further out as the weeks pass by and you begin getting the hang of these.
Give these 6 ring push-up variations a try and experience a marked increase in your upper body pushing strength.
Ready to take on the rings and experience a marked increase in upper body pushing strength? Then give these 6 ring push-up variations a try.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below!
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