By Alexis Wolfer

We all know that exercise is essential to a healthy body and mind; but getting to the gym is often easier said than done. Bad weather, pricey gym memberships and time do not always work in our favor. But what if you could work out for free, any time, anywhere? While you may think the exercises you can do without equipment end with squats, pushups and sit-ups, Mark Lauren, the author of You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises for Men and Women ($14.95) ensures us that we’re holding all the gym equipment we’ll ever need.

As a certified Military Physical Training Specialist, Special Operations Combat Controller, triathlete, and competitive Thai boxer, Mark has effectively trained over 700 Special Operations officers without the use of any additional fitness equipment. Rather, in believing that simple bodyweight programs create the leanest, strongest people in our military, he is making U.S. Special Operations fitness exercises available to everyone – no matter your schedule, wallet or fitness level.

A strawberry protein shake perfect post-workout!

Plus, as Mark explains, bodyweight movements can be both safer and more effective than a gym workout. As Mark told The Beauty Bean, “Bodyweight movements are far more functional than most exercises that require weights or machines. I will admit that there are effective exercises that can be performed with weights. The problem is that these movements are complicated, and at least initially, require the constant feedback from a trained professional. Even a relatively simple weight lifting movement, such as the back or front squat, is rarely seen preformed with decent form, which greatly increases that likelihood of injury. Many of the less complicated movements requiring machines or weights isolate only one or two muscle groups while the user is sitting or lying down. Bodyweight movements engage many muscles at once. Most upper body exercises, with bodyweight training, also engage the core and even the muscles of the legs. Through the use of this type of training, people are able to build lean functional physiques that operate as a cohesive whole.”

Do a perfect push-up! Click here to see how.

With just a little bit of floor space, you can transform any room into a total body gym, perfect for Mark’s short, intense workouts (think 30 minute sessions, 4 days per week) designed to improve cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, strength, power, balance, flexibility and coordination.

While Mark’s book includes 125 exercises with many variations, here, he shares with The Beauty Bean a few moves you can try until your copy of You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises for Men and Women makes it to your door:

Push-ups can be made easier or harder by placing either your hands or your feet on a chair during the movement.

Pull-ups can be done on a doorjamb. Just lay a towel across the top of it to make it easier on your hands. If regular pull-ups are too difficult, use a chair to give yourself a boost.

Rowing can be done under a desk. Lay on your back, underneath a desk, and reach up and grab a hold of the desks surface. Now, pull yourself up until your chest touches the underside of the desk and lower yourself back down. This exercise can be made easier by bending the knees at a 90-degree angle or harder by placing your feet on a chair. Really ready to kick it up a notch? Try doing this movement while holding one leg in the air with only one leg on a chair.

Should you stretch? Click here to find out!

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