Want an ideal body? The gym isn't always the best place to achieve it. You see, most health clubs are filled with complicated machines that are not only intimidating, but designed to target and isolate individual muscles. That's fine if you're simply looking for bigger biceps, but our muscles were designed to work in groups. Work them together, and you'll develop a naturally derived physique that's athletic and strong. It's a philosophy Lashawn Martin, a British-born personal trainer and owner of Envys Fitness in Los Angeles, believes in. A competitive athlete who's been playing rugby for 14 years, he says you don't need a lot of machines or even dumbbells to get yourself in shape. Here, he shares six essential body-weight exercises that work your upper and lower body while strengthening your core.
With your feet together, assume a push up position, resting on your forearms. Keep your spine as straight as possible—your body should be aligned from your ankles to your head. Tighten your abs, squeeze your glutes and press your elbows into the ground. Be sure not to drop your hips or hunch your back. Work up to a 60-second hold, focusing on perfect form and repeat as needed. Alternate with the reverse plank (pictured on bottom).
Assume the standard pushup position. As you lower your body toward the ground, lift your right foot off the ground, swing the leg out sideways and try to touch your knee to your elbow. Bring the leg back while pushing your body back up to the starting position. Repeat, but on your next repetition, touch your left knee to your left elbow. Continue to alternate back and forth.
With your feet shoulder-width apart, bring your hands to the ground and bend your knees. Then, keeping your arms stretched out in front of you, hop to your feet while maintaining the bend in your knee. Repeat.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width. Raise arms above your head (seen left) or cross them over your chest (right). Sit back, lowering your body as far as you can while keeping your back as straight as possible. Pause, then slowly stand back up by extending the legs and squeezing your glutes, imagining that you're pushing the ground down.
Start by raising your left arm and right leg in an exaggerated motion, both forming a 90-degree angle. Bring the raised right leg back behind you, bending your front knee until it forms a 90-degree angle. At the same time, you're lowering your left arm and raising the right in one fluid motion. Hold at the bottom and then push yourself back to the starting position. Repeat with the other side.
Modify the standard push-up position by stepping your feet in towards your hands. With your hips lifted, bend at the elbows. Stop when your forehead is just above the ground and then push up with your shoulders until your arms straighten out.