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Easy Exercise Swaps For When You Don't Have a Gym Membership

Traveling is commonplace around the holiday season- going to the gym? Not so much. When you're on the road, away from your home gym, you probably think "dang, that's my workout routine done for the forseeable." Fear not! If you've ever wondered about easy exercise swaps when you don't have a gym membership, you'll want to keep reading.

Doing a home workout

You may have friends or co workers who have sworn off the gym for the holiday season. You may even have sworn off the gym yourself!

You don't need to swear off working out for the holiday season as a way to treat yourself for the hard work and discipline you put into the rest of the year. While it's traditionally a time where most would say "see ya in January," it may not be the case if you're performing in a Christmas show or in rehearsals for a show that starts running in the New Year.

You might feel like avoiding the gym because you're tired of it. You might not have the finances to commit to a gym membership at this time. You might be thinking, "who works out at Christmas anyway?"

Just because you don't have a gym membership to take advantage of, doesn't mean that you can't exercise in a way that supports your body and your goals. Check out these exercise swaps for the times when stepping into a gym just isn't happening for you.

Keep reading for some easy exercise swaps for when you don't have a gym membership.


Wall Sits > Weighted Squats

If you're used to adding resistance to squats in order to create more challenge for your lower body muscles, you can still create a level of challenge for yourself that mimics that of your squats. When you're doing your squats, you probably feel the shakes at the point where you are at the bottom of your squat and need to straighten your legs- typically at the last two or three reps in your sets. This is the point where your muscles' endurance is being tested, and that same endurance can be tested by holding the same base position for an extended period of time. When you're in a wall sit, your lower body muscles are contracted to hold you off of the floor. When you hold that contracted position for thirty to sixty seconds, you create that same sense of stimulus and fatigue that your muscles benefit from.

Push Ups > Weighted Chest Press

Chest presses are a great exercise that touches on anterior (front side) upper body strength, as well as shoulder stability. For some, they are a far less daunting exercise to perform than their bodyweight counterparts- the push up. Don't be afraid of push ups, just because you feel like you can't do them. If you aren't comfortable or able to perform push ups on your feet, here's how you can start.

  1. Perform push ups against a wall

  2. Elevate your hands on a chair or sturdy table

  3. Perform push ups on the floor, on your knees

  4. Perform push ups on the floor, on your feet

Reverse Lunges > Weighted Step Ups

When you do step ups in your workouts, you can feel that you have to push onto the elevated surface to stand tall. When doing a reverse lunge, you have to utilize the same push off of the back foot onto the front foot that you would in the elevated counterpart. How can you make them less monotonous?

  1. Step back, bend both knees, and hold that position for three seconds before stepping in to your start position.

  2. Perform all lunges on one leg for isolation and endurance before swapping to the other leg.

Tricep Dips > Skullcrushers

If you want more stability in your shoulders, better power for movements- such as pushing a heavy load or engaging in sports such as swimming and boxing, and even improving strength in your push ups- you'll want to focus on the strength and stability of these muscles on the back of your arm. Skullcrushers are a great way to do that, and so are their bodyweight cousins. Here's how to make them more challenging, from easiest to hardest.

  1. Start with hands and feet on the floor

  2. Bend your elbows for the duration of a slow count of three, and push to your straightened start position for a count of two.

  3. Elevate your hands, but still have your knees bent.

  4. Elevate your hands, and straighten your legs.

Glute Bridges > Hamstring Curls

Stimulating and strengthening the posterior (back half) of your lower body is a crucial integration into supporting posture and supporting injury prevention. Hamstring curls can feel pretty humbling and pretty bad a** all in the one go- glute bridges may not sound half as satisfying but they are still important for posterior chain stimulation. The number one way I encourage clients in Empowered Fitness to make the most of glute bridge variations in their programming is focusing on the eccentric portion of the movement. This means slowly lowering your hips back to their starting position- not allowing your hips to return quickly to the floor. Think of pushing your hips away from the floor for a count of two, and lowering them back down for a slow coutn of three. Your muscles will feel their work.


In conclusion: bodyweight movements can feel less gratifying than their weighted counterparts. However, that doesn't make them any less beneficial in muscle stimulation and overall exercise for functional day-to-day operations and injury prevention.

You can use variations on elevation, tempo, and prolonged contraction to make exercises without extra weight more challenging.

You can move your body in a way that feels good, and is beneficial, without having to walk into a gym. Bodyweight exercises are a great way to focus on form, dial back when you're tired, and dedicate five to thirty minutes of your day to your health.

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