Sometimes life takes us away from our normal routine, an unexpected trip, a holiday that we have had planned for a while, family get togethers, work conferences, you name it, we’ve all been there! Training is such an important part of staying healthy and active for me, not just in mind but also in body, so I choose to prioritise that – even when I’m away! I will always try to find a good gym in the area but I also like to find a sweet spot out in nature and create a bodyweight program. Bodyweight exercises can be done anywhere and everywhere and that’s why I love them so much!
From previous experience, my top 10 bodyweight exercises are:
• Push ups: Whether you start on your knees, have the strength on your toes, can add some power with a clap, add more body awareness with a spiderman pushup or even do them on your fingertips… this is an upper body exercise that is sure to build your strength.
• Pull ups: Mastering a pull up is a big goal for many people. You can start with a band or even on a low bar and have a little weight in your toes. If you are more advanced you can start doing power release and catch pull ups, muscle ups and even 4 and 3 finger pull ups! Whichever angle you tackle this exercise, make sure it is in your Ninja or everyday training routine. It will form the foundation for many upper body obstacles when you come to training and competition.
• Single leg/pistol squat: Again this is another exercise that can be started simply from seating on an object such as a chair or stool and standing up on one leg. The key here is to try and make sure your knee tracks over your toe throughout the movement. It is extremely helpful to have strength and power on a single leg when you are a Ninja and for life! Single leg balance is great for both the obstacles and for the ways you may land coming off an obstacle.
• Squats: These are great for creating stability in the legs, knees and hips. Hitting a squat past 90 degrees is essential to maximise muscle recruitment. To perform a squat stand in your natural shoulder width position, bend hips to go back (like sitting on toilet) whilst keeping chest proud, bend knees to take the movement as far down as you can without leaning forward, keep back nice and straight, push through feet and squeeze glutes to stand back up! Leg strength is essential to lots of Ninja obstacles. You can turn these into squat jumps or frog jumps if you want to focus on speed, power or for a more cardio based workout.
• Burpees: The king of complex cardio movements! The burpee combines a push up with a squat jump, which means that it really gets the heart rate going! If you are looking to maintain fitness while you are away, add burpees into your session. To perform a burpee start feet shoulder width apart, bend over to pace hands on floor, jump feet back into plank, do a push up, jump feet back in to hands, stand up and jump at the top then repeat over and over 🙂
• Handstands: A great exercise to have that can create the basis of a whole session. If you aren’t confident with handstands you can start in half handstand holds against the wall or doing half kick ups. If you are confident in them then you can add in some handstand holds, handstand kick ups etc into any circuit or create a whole handstand workout! For handstand against the wall, place hands down on floor, back to wall, place one foot on wall then the other, slowly walk feet up the wall and hands in closer to wall, try to get body in a nice straight line, head looking at fingers, walk down and repeat or hold at the top until ready to come down.
• Hollow body position: My absolute favourite core blaster! If you don’t use these in your training on a weekly basis, more fool you! They not only work the abs that we see on the outside but they work the deep abdominals that support our spine, not to mention creating a strong pelvic floor. For the hollow position start lying on back with feet and hands up in air, push spine into floor so there is no gap between floor and back, slowly start to lower arms and legs (stop when lower back starts to lift) ensure shoulders are lifted off floor, arms are beside ears and legs are squeezed straight… enjoy 😉
• Mountain climbers: Such an epic upper body cardio exercise. This is mainly upper body but it utilises core and lower body too so it’s a winner all round! Start in a high plank, hands under shoulders and nice tight body, keep hips fairly high as you lift one knee to bring it into your elbow then back, then other knee into other elbow and back, you can start to speed it up as you go or slow it down for more core engagement!
• Plank/plank variations: Any plank is going to be a winner all round – high plank, normal plank, elevated plank, up and down plank – they are a full body workout because you have to engage all muscles to achieve the perfect plank alignment. A normal plank is on forearms/elbows, shoulders are above elbows and shoulders are also in line with hips. Hips should not be too high or too low, body should be in a nice straight line.
• Cossack squats: A great exercise to combine strength and mobility. Start in a wide straddle position standing up, bend one knee until you can’t go any lower, then push back to stand up, repeat on other side and continue to repeat! You should feel a nice stretch in your hamstring of the leg that stays straight as well as in the adductor and calf of the leg that is bending 🙂
In order to maintain fitness and strength whilst away you should ideally train 3 times a week at a minimum. If you can train more then you are more likely to maintain or even increase your strength and fitness depending on how much time you have. Even squeezing in a 15-20 minute circuit each day is better than nothing!
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