No Equipment? No Time? Here Are No-Excuse Options for Training Your Legs, Heart and Lungs

(U.S. Army/Sgt. Angela Parady)

When it comes to placing fitness into the schedule, there are usually one or two obstacles: lack of equipment, lack of time or both. Due to crazy winter weather, gym closures (or avoidance) and a disrupted schedule the past few weeks, not many have been immune to challenges when it comes to fitting fitness into the day.

If you lack the equipment, time or both, here are three options about how you structure a leg-day routine. These concepts apply to upper-body exercises, too.

No Equipment but Plenty of Time

When the schedule opens and you have nothing but time to your day, be it on snow days, weekends or due to gym closures, try the following calisthenic and cardio leg-day options:

Get out and start walking. For more advanced athletes, add a backpack and burn more calories with a ruck. If the running paths or sidewalks are clear, warm up well and start running.

If you are already 40-50 pounds overweight, consider every walk that you do a ruck and avoid running. Your knees will thank you for the reduction of impact forces. If you have the time, spend as much as you can walking. Walking is our number one tool for stress reduction and building a fitness base that burns sufficient calories to lose or maintain weight.

Mix in calisthenics throughout your walk, such as squats for sets of 10-15 repetitions. Just sitting down and standing up on a park bench 10 times is a great way to work lower-body muscles..

For those who have time and prefer running, consider adding in more calisthenics as well. Try mixing calisthenics into harder and faster running sets. If you have a field or court to use, try these:

• Run 100 meters, do one squat.

• Run 100 meters, do two squats.

• Run 100 meters, do three squats.

Keep going up the pyramid until 10 or even 20 as you break up your cardio time with some leg calisthenics.

If you really want to push yourself, try lunge walking across the field a few times. A 100-meter walking lunge set is for those of you who do leg exercises often enough to handle 40 to 50 lunges per leg in a workout. This is not a beginner or day-one leg routine, so build up to that kind of distance as you try lunging over several weeks.

Plenty of Equipment but No Time

If you have a home or work gym to access throughout the day, finding the time is not as difficult as you may think. For instance, you may not have time to walk for an hour straight, but you can surely walk for 5-10 minutes spread throughout the day. Just get creative with break times, parking of the car at work or running errands, sleep or TV time.

Break down your schedule throughout the day, and you will find 5-10 minutes here and there between appointments, cancellations and your beginning or end-of-day routines. Once you realize you have a few or even several five- to 10-minute segments spread throughout the day, you still can break up the following workout in multiple five-minute sets:

• Walk or jog five minutes

• Stretch five minutes

Try calisthenics warmups like the push-up or squat pyramid above. If there is no place to run, do jumping jacks for the time it takes to run 100 meters, about 15-20 seconds.

Dumbbell exercise circuit: Squats, lunges, farmers walk up and down stairs for a total of five minutes.

• Core exercises: Five minutes of a variety of ab, lower-back, upper-back and oblique exercises.

• Walk: 5-10 minutes after every meal you eat throughout the day.

• Wake up earlier by 15 to 20 minutes and fit in as much activity as you can from the above options or your favorite circuit training workout.

• Before you sleep, take 5-10 minutes and do a light stretch with deep breathing techniques to help reduce stress and get you ready to sleep well. You will feel like waking up a few minutes earlier to get your day started with some physical activity.

No Equipment and No Time

This double whammy is not uncommon for many Americans. However, the answer is a combination of the above two answers. Find small segments of time and add calisthenics, stretching and walking to your day in small increments spread throughout the day.

Wear a pedometer or use the health tracker app on your phone to keep track of your daily steps. Every time you sit or stand up at a desk, do it 10 times instead of just once. You will accumulate many repetitions of muscle-building and calorie-burning exercises if you can.

Also, can you accumulate 5,000 to 10,000 steps in a day? You will be surprised, but many of us are able to accomplish that in a day, and you do not even realize it if you start taking a few moments of your day to opt for the walk option to get from A to B during the day.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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