Blasphemy echoes the chorus of insta trainers and newly minted college certified personal fitness gurus.
Of course you do they synchronize in a beautiful harmony, barbells and dumbbells have been and always will be, without the leg press and the preacher curl apparatus you would be lost and alone. They begin to chant rhythmically, ‘progressive overload….progressive overload…progressive overload,” it begins as a whisper, “progressive overload,” gaining volume, ‘progressive overload!” swells to a resounding boom! The group sways side to side with lighters in the air, moving as a group to respect the knowledge that only fancy machines and structured equipment can ensure each workout another kilogram is maximising muscle growth. The final nail in their argument is hammered home by the great idea of the importance of muscle isolation, without which no muscle can ever reach its true potential!
Without equipment you are doomed to never hit a fitness goal. Your body will,, WILL, be doomed to wither away and send you to the great realm of the UNFIT.
It is preposterous to be sure. Somehow the human race managed to stay strong and survive the last 100,000 before the advent of Nautilus and the rise of the Keiser hydraulics.
The group above will quickly step up to highlight that while they didn’t have equipment before technology made everything better, our ancestors DID stuff. Picked up heavy things, moved stuff, travelled, hunted, built things. Now that we don’t do that we need all the fancy machines to replace these efforts and develop us.
To a point, I am in agreement.
Modern life is devoid of physical hardship that would have forced us to remain mobile and strong. However, the idea that complicated equipment and muscle isolation is the right way to work our modern bodies is preposterous. It isn’t better, it isn’t safer, it isn’t useful.
I am not saying there is NO equipment that you can learn and make use of. I am a HUGE advocate for kettlebells, the TRX, indian clubs, the Mace, Bulgarian bags, and the good old jump rope. What I AM attempting to say is that you do not NEED any equipment to be healthy and fit.
The list of equipment I just wrote all require some practice, some space, and of course, access to the items themselves. If you can arrange that, do it! But, to stay healthy and strong it isn’t necessary. Your body is this amazing and beautiful machine that becomes stronger and more resilient based on ONE thing – work.
Your muscles get stronger when they have to do work (engineering and physicist friends, back off! I KNOW I am going to FAR over simplify this concept). What is work? Basically, work means the application of force to move something. You pick up something heavy and move it, work. That is what your muscles know, what your body in general knows.
What your body DOESN’T know is what exactly is causing the work. A deer carcass, a dumbbell, a kettlebell, a baby carrier, a rock, a tree, a friend’s couch, or a great book. In fact, your body doesn’t even know if what it is being forced to do work moving, is itself!
And this is why you can be fit, strong, and healthy, without ANY equipment.
Have you heard of: pushups, pullups, stairs, hills, or the floor? What do all of these things have in common?
You can utilize them for all of your training, using the body itself as the implement to create work. I know, crazy concept.
A list of exercises (yeah, sometimes there is no set name for what I am describing):
-jumping onto things
-walking up stairs
-walking up a hill
-sitting down on the floor and getting back up
-yoga and animal flows
You’re welcome. I just gave you everything you need to do for the rest of your life to keep strong and healthy. Seriously.
But what about progressive overload? Challenging yourself? How do you make it more work to get stronger?
Sprint up a hill instead of walk, jump onto something higher, jump over something, sprint faster, do push-ups on one foot, or with one arm, do pull-ups with one arm instead of two arms, or do pull-ups faster, or do more pull-ups, or do muscle-ups, or walk up stairs faster, or do more stairs, or jump up the stairs, or jump up the stairs three at a time, or do a handstand and do inverted push-ups, or jump squat, or jump lunge, or…….
I could literally just keep going on and on and on ad nauseam. I think you get the point.
Your body doesn’t know if the work the arms are doing is resulting from pressing a barbell overhead or from doing a handstand push-up. It doesn’t need to. The muscles respond to the act of doing the work and differently to the impetus creating the need for the work.
Why am I bothering to meander through all of this with you?
Because I want all of you to know, to understand, that anyone can have access to great fitness, at anytime, in any place. There is no reason, no excuse, not to move your body and keep it strong.
You do not need fancy programs or elite equipment or the newest product being hawked on Shark Tank.
This doesn’t mean you CAN’T use equipment (I mean there IS a hierarchy of equipment that is better for you or worse for you, as I already listed earlier in this article). By all means incorporating good equipment and following well crafted programs, like those found at evolutiononlinefitness.com for example, can be fantastic.
I merely want to highlight that you don’t NEED to. Your body only knows work and as long as you force it to do work it will be stronger and more resilient.