Sandeep's Nook: Fitness Page

A Simple Home Workout Without Weights

Whether you lead a fast paced life or a fit body... a healthy mind believe in taking things easy; exercise, a disciplined lifestyle and a healthy diet will enable you to enjoy life better and with greater fulfilment. If you are the type of person who always wanted to do something for your body but didn't know where to start, read on. This workout is just meant for those who are not interested in looking like Mr. Olympia but who would definitely
"For most of us, health will depend not on who we are, but on how we live. The body you have at 20 depends on your genes, but the body you have at 40, 60 or 80 is the body you deserve, the body that reflects your behaviour."
-- Dr. Harvey Simon.
like to look and feel better than they do now, all this to be achieved without any equipment whatsoever, or a sore body or membership in some health club.

A lot of people live with the misconception that the only way to exercise is to join a health club or to go to a gym. But the fact is that you can do a complete workout just about anywhere! With the right attitude and even without any equipment you can get a thorough workout within the confines of your home. Whatever your motives, following a fitness routine is a commitment. Your main aim in undertaking a fitness routine should be to change the composition of your body; i.e. to increase your ratio of muscle mass to body fat, and that means making changes in your diet, lifestyle, as well as working out.

Just as everyone needs oxygen, food, and sleep, you also need vigorous exercise to maintain excellence in your physiological and mental processes. Physical fitness can be considered as the cheapest form of preventive medicine. Even if you are only starting out with an exercise regimen, you should remember that the moment you have involved yourself with a regular, vigorous routine for four to eight weeks, you'll see changes in both your mental and physical makeup.

But there is more to staying fit than just preventing disease. Regular physical activity can lead to a state where your body can function at optimal efficiency in doing daily tasks, with enough in reserve for you to be ready to tackle crises as and when they arise and also to pursue your hobbies and other leisure activities with greater vigour.

 Back to top | Back to Index | Home 

 Callisthenics vs Aerobics

Why is it essential to use your own body-weight or any kind of weights in a workout at all? After all there are a lot of people who say that weights are not necessary and that with aerobics alone you can gain a lot. Now, this view is not to be disputed. But the fact is that with weights alone can a person hope to gain more in lesser time and with lesser chance of injury. Also a weight bearing workout keeps your body burning fat long after you have showered and freshened up. The resting metabolic rate of those into a weight bearing workout remains elevated even up to 15 hours after a workout. Even better, it is found that the calories burned by the body in the hours after exercise tended to come from fats rather than carbohydrates.

Body Language
If you are going to make your muscles work, it only makes sense to first learn a little about how they function. Here are just a few of the body's basic structures and how they work together to make human movement possible:
Central nervous system: This system consists of the brain and spinal cord, and functions in conjunction with the peripheral nervous system. This system coordinates the activity of the entire nervous system.
Ligaments: These are tough, flexible tissues that bind bone to bone and hold organs in position.
Tendons: These are dense cords of fibrous connective tissue at the ends of muscle that join them to bone. The force exerted by the muscle is usually transmitted via the tendons.
Bones: The human body includes 206 bones that combine together to form the skeleton. Tendons attach bone to muscle and assist in movement.
Muscles: There are three distinct kinds of muscle tissue - Cardiac (heart), Smooth (stomach and intestines) and Skeletal (those responsible for moving our bones). There are more than 600 skeletal muscles in the body and this 3-to-1 ratio of skeletal muscle to bone helps to make us so nimble.

Also it is found that over 50% of those who participate in vigorous aerobics suffer from injuries to their legs, back, and/or upper body as both high and low-impact aerobic exercises require a person's feet, legs and body to take a lot of pounding. In high-impact aerobics, as both feet spend time off the ground simultaneously, most injuries are to the shins, but injuries such as tendinitis in the feet are also common. Even though the feet absorb most of the pounding and stress, some of it moves up the body affecting the lower back. Also, most of the upper-body injuries are caused due to low-impact workouts. Low-impact workouts tend to injure the upper body because of the common practice of swinging weights to compensate for the lack of jumping movement. This usually leads to tendinitis in the arms, pulled backs, and strains.

The advantage of Callisthenics is that it incorporates a weight workout along with a lot of stretching and bending movements, which together can help you gain in strength, suppleness, as well as endurance, and build muscle mass without the fear of injuries.

The following are a few more ways in which callisthenics can help you:

The only thing you need to improve yourself is ambition, commitment and motivation.

 Back to top | Back to Index | Home 


Most people find it a little bit difficult to accept that there is a direct connection between our minds and our bodies. The general bias is for many to give undue importance to the mind over the body. Western medicine had always separated the two which had lead to many thinking of them as being two independent and disconnected entities. Given such an attitude it is easy to overlook some obvious interactions between the two. For example it is more likely for us to fall ill when we are under stress because our negative mental outlook will have suppressed our entire immune system. Also it is known that we have a better attitude towards life and are relatively stress-free if we take up any kind of physical activity. Our minds and bodies are not just connected together but they are also influencing each other in many more ways than we could have even dreamt of. Regular exercise has shown the ability to build self-esteem and self-confidence by making us feel good about ourselves and thus help in fighting depression. Conversely when a person is leading a rather sedentary life he or she tends to have low self-esteem. When a person is feeling good, his or her motivation to improve and excel would increase. In many ways this interaction between the mind and body is very subtle; but this generally subdued interaction can be enhanced to benefit from its many positive attributes by improving your physical condition, and that is possible with a good exercise regimen.

If for you motivation is a problem you should remember that motivation and self-esteem go hand in hand. To keep going back to your workout schedule you have got to understand and treasure your goal in life, i.e. the improvement in your mental and physical well-being. It has been noticed that those who had poor self-esteem were those who skipped their workouts the most. While on the other hand regular exercise has been shown to build self-esteem and fight depression. To sum it up, regular workouts have been shown to build self-esteem while self-esteem is crucial in getting you to follow a good workout routine. So go ahead and exercise, it will do you good in more ways than one, including getting you further motivated and thus having you asking for more.

 Back to top | Back to Index | Home 

 Basic Callisthenic Training

Now we come to the point where we can start talking about a basic callisthenic training routine that any healthy person can start.

• A diet that is composed of 60% carbohydrates, 25% protein and 15% fat is considered as well balanced.
• Starches like rice and potatoes supply the most efficient fuel for muscular work.
• Drink plenty of water while you exercise. Lack of water could increase your risk of injury as it could lead to fatigue.
• Excessive carbohydrates are bad for those leading a more sedentary life-style.
• Increase the amount of protein in your diet if you wish to lose weight and do not lead too active a life.
• Be careful of supplements like minerals and vitamins. They can prove to be toxic if taken in excessive doses. Avoid taking any weight gain supplements.

This routine is not meant for those who are obsessed with a muscular physique but for those who want to improve their fitness levels, get into shape, and also improve their posture, overall flexibility and confidence levels. That is not to say that there will not be any improvement in your overall look. The improvement in fitness and strength will be astoundingly rapid once this routine is started in earnest. An important thing to remember is your breathing. As instructed in the exercise descriptions take a deep breath whenever you are told to inhale and push out all the air in your lungs when told to exhale.

Unlike any weights routine there is no limit to the number of days this routine can be followed. In fact it would be best if the routine was followed every day of the week without break. There is no fixed time you should spend on this routine either. In the beginning even 10 minutes a day would make a difference and build you up both physically as well as mentally to do more. More than the number of sets it is the form that matters. Initially those who are new to exercise would have difficulty in maintaining balance and perfecting their form. This should not discourage them as with time both their form as well as balance would improve.

I learnt most of the exercises listed in this workout from my great-uncle who was a wrestler of repute. He was one of those folks who did not believe in using weights or any other equipment. In fact the only equipment he ever used were gymnasts rings that he had suspended from the rafters of my ancestral home. He also used to climb rope; this being one of the best exercises to build explosive upper body strength.

It would surprise sceptics who feel weights alone can give strength to know that callisthenics gives far greater strength and power than any weight routine. In fact it wouldn't be wrong for me to say that those who first try out my weight routine for a few months and become totally comfortable in performing those exercises would find doing most of these callisthenic exercises quite a challenge. Also a question here; how many of you have seen animals using weights? You need not be a genius to know that wild animals are pound to pound stronger, fitter and more powerful than the best of us humans.

 Back to top | Back to Index | Home 

 Muscle Groups

If you are going to work on your muscles, you need to know the right muscle terminology. The following list will give you a basic idea of the major muscle groups and the exercises that are the best suited for each. Given in the brackets are the abbreviations that are often used for these muscle groups.

Deltoids (Delts) - Point of each shoulder - Decline Push-ups and Semi One-arm Push-ups.
Pectorals (Pecs) - Upper front of rib cage - Wide Decline Push-ups and Indian Push-ups.
Brachialis (Brachy) - Side of upper arm - Semi One-arm Push-ups and Wide Decline Push-ups.
Triceps (Tri's) - Back of upper arm - Wide Decline Push-ups, Tricep Dips and Hip Raiser.
Biceps (Bi's) - Front of upper arm - Indian Push-ups.
Trapezius (Traps) - Upper back - Inverse Push-ups and Hip Raiser.
Latissimus Dorsi (Lats) - Back muscles that give one a V-shaped appearance - Inverse Push-ups.
Rectus Abdominis (Abs) - Front abdomen - Crunches and Twists.
External/Internal Obliques (Obliques) - Sides of waist- Side Bends and Twists.
Gluteus Maximus (Glutes) - Buttocks - Hip Raiser and Indian Squats (Baitak).
Quadriceps (Quads) - Front of thigh - Indian Squats (Baitak) and Sideways Lunge.
Hamstrings (Hams) - Rear of thigh - Indian Squats (Baitak) and Sideways Lunge.
Soleus and Gastrocnemius (Calves) - Calves - Calf Raises and Indian Squats (Baitak).

The exercises listed above would get you a thorough workout for the full body. They will not only help you improve your physique and gain tremendous strength, but also increase your stamina which would go a long way in building your confidence and sense of well-being.

As you may have noticed many of the exercises listed above help develope not just one, but multiple muscle groups at a time thus helping you save time spent on your workouts. Do as many repetitions of each exercise as suits you. Just remember that the more you do the better. For beginners even 10 minutes devoted for their workout per day for a month would make them fitter than those who have been on a weight routine for years.

 Back to top | Back to Index | Home 

 Warming Up/Down

In a callisthenics workout there is really no need for you to start with warm-ups. As most of the exercises enumerated here promote flexibility of your joints and suppleness of the body there is very low risk of injury to muscle tissue.

You can do a warm-up by just starting the routine in the usual manner but with slower movements until you get a sweat going, your heart rate up and your muscles warm. The exercises enumerated here will gradually prepare your muscles for an increase in activity if begun slowly and secondly it will raise body temperature, which in turn will help to avoid sprains or cramps.

After any exercise session or sports competition, you also have to warm your body down. All those muscles that have been exercised now need the time to readjust to their normal status. Otherwise they may tear or pull even though no further stress is placed on them. Just reversing the warm-up process would suffice as a warm-down routine.

 Back to top | Back to Index | Home 

 The Schedule

The exercise schedule is by itself self-sufficient as it gives you a thorough workout without weights. You can mix and match the exercises given to suit you best. For beginners a 10 minute workout would do. As you gain strength and stamina you can opt to workout for longer durations. You can be rest assured though that even 10 minutes a day would be sufficient to make you look better, feel stronger and fitter, and increase your confidence. Initially you may not be able to do more than just 10 Indian squats or 3 to 4 Indian push-ups which happen to be the most important exercises in this schedule. But let that not discourage you. Keep at it and things will slowly get better. Ideally a 30 minute workout daily would be best.

The exercises should be performed without breaks in between. Immediately as you finish one exercise, go on to the next. This is important as it keeps the pulse rate up, which will in turn help build up endurance and stamina. But when you take a breather, say after three different exercises, you can take up to ten minutes or more off before you hit the floor again. A longish break will help your body recover and grow better. This alternating routine of hectic exercise activity and longish breaks can help increase stamina as well as muscle bulk. Also there is no need to rigidly stick to the recommended number of reps as shown in the schedule. Do what you can. If at first it seems difficult do not be discouraged. Just do what works best for you. But just do not skip exercising daily. All the best!!

* Disclaimer: The exercises and/or advice contained in this Fitness Page (site) might prove to be harmful or strenuous for some people due to various factors. Reader's are advised to consult a physician before beginning any fitness routine.
The author/webmaster of this Fitness Page is not in any way responsible whatsoever for any injury or health problems that might arise or occur after following the fitness routine detailed herein.

Updated on: 13th November 2007.