Avoid Fitness Gimmicks: Bodyweight Training Exercises are Still the Best Way to Get Strong and Lean
You may not know much about bodyweight exercises. This is due to the fact that, unlike all the trendy fitness equipment out there, bodyweight exercises have no marketing department. Since bodyweight training exercises require no equipment beyond the resistance provided by the weight of your body, they are often overlooked by those looking to get fit due to the overwhelming amount of advertisers competing for your attention as they attempt to sell you their (potentially useless) piece of equipment.
Many people may also opt for machine-based exercises since most machines have instructions inscribed right there on the side, making it easy to just walk up, strap in, and perform the exercise. It takes a little more time and commitment to learn how to do bodyweight exercises effectively and properly, but it is well worth it due to the unique benefits bodyweight training exercise offers over other forms of exercise.
Bodyweight training offers something for everyone. Bodyweight exercises run the gamut from simple exercises suited for beginners to extremely challenging moves utilized by elite athletes.
Don’t let “Big Fitness” tell you that you need any fancy products to get your best body ever. I am a big supporter of bodyweight training as one of the best approaches to getting in shape. It’s a very versatile, effective, and convenient form of exercise. I recommend combining bodyweight exercises with free weight exercises, cardio, and nutrition as the best way to get fit.
In this article, I’ll tell you exactly why and how you can benefit from adding bodyweight exercises to your workout routine. To illustrate each of the top 5 benefits of bodyweight training exercise, I’ve included a sample bodyweight exercise video that you can immediately add to your workout routine.
The Top 5 Benefits of Bodyweight Training Exercises
1. Bodyweight Training Exercises Combine Cardio and Strength Training
Many people’s fitness routines are not very efficient in terms of time or effective in terms of results. You may be one of those people who spends an hour at the gym several times per week hitting the cardio machines AND the weight machines and wondering why you’re not seeing faster results. I used to be one of those people until I began to learn about the benefits of bodyweight and free weights for exercise!
It should be pretty obvious that body weight exercises build strength, but many people don’t realize that bodyweight exercises get your heart rate up and keep it up throughout your workout, even becoming a form of interval training as you alternate between more and less cardio-heavy bodyweight exercises.
A bodyweight workout is more challenging to both the muscular system and cardiovascular system than relying on cardio machines and weight machines, meaning your workout takes less time while providing your system with enough of a challenge that you will see quick results.
The Burpee is a fantastic bodyweight exercise that gets your heart pounding while delivering the strength training benefits of a squat, a pushup, and a jump.
2. Bodyweight Training Exercises Burn a Ton of Calories
This benefit of bodyweight training exercise flows right from the last one, as strength training plus cardio equals fat loss. The best way to burn calories and lose weight is through an integrated fitness program combining cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and of course, a great nutrition plan. Bodyweight exercises are extremely useful to hit those key elements of cardio and strength training in one fell swoop.
Many bodyweight exercises activate multiple muscle groups at once, meaning that multiple muscles are hard at work burning calories at once instead of just one or two, in contrast to isolation exercises. Also, as mentioned above, bodyweight exercises often include a cardio component which leads to heightened caloric burn.
If you want to work out your lower body, think how many more calories you’ll burn in a glute-, hamstrings-, quads-, and calves-blasting sequence of lunges versus exercises isolating these different lower body parts.
The weights the exerciser in the video is holding are optional. Bodyweight is generally plenty of resistance as long as you perform enough reps to fatigue your muscles.
3. Bodyweight Training Exercises Build Functional Strength
Functional strength is simply defined as strength which ties directly to activities of your daily life, whether those activities be performing household chores and hobbies or engaging in competitive athletics. What’s functional for one person may not be functional for another, but bodyweight exercises can easily be built into routines meant to achieve different functional results.
Many popular exercise modalities (especially those ubiquitous gym machine exercises most people resort to because they don’t know any better) build strength that isn’t especially useful to everyday living or to athletic performance. These types of isolation exercises often overemphasize a certain muscle or muscle groups solitary function in one plane of motion, when in reality, the body is mean to function as one integrated unit in multiple planes of motion. For example, the power of a martial artist’s punch does not come from the strength of the arm muscles punching straight ahead; a truly powerful fighter knows how use the whole kinetic chain, including the leg, hip, and core to generate maximum impact.
Functional training exercises encourage the development of overall functional strength in which multiple muscle groups throughout the body act in concert to achieve optimal movement. Functional training addresses everyday movements such as squatting, lunging, twisting, lifting, jumping, and balancing. Myriad functional training routines can be built with bodyweight exercises alone, or with a combination of bodyweight exercises and free weight exercises.
The squat is a classic functional training exercise. You may not realize it, but you perform half a squat anytime you sit down or rise up from sitting. Watch this video to learn how to do a Bodyweight Squat, an excellent exercise for working out your entire lower body, including all the stabilizer muscles.
4. Bodyweight Training Exercises Help Prevent Injury
Bodyweight exercises force you to use your core for stability as you work out instead of relying on outside support such as machines and benches. Don’t think of the core as just your abs; the core is actually defined as all the stabilization muscles in the trunk area, including your deep abdominal muscles, lower back muscles, and hip stabilizers. Even the stabilization muscles of the shoulders, all-too-common sites of injury, can be included in our definition of the core.
Bodyweight exercises encourage you to engage all of your core stability muscles in order to work out with proper form. As your core becomes stronger and more stable, your risk of injury while working out or just going about your daily life will decrease. Your posture will also improve, further reducing the chance of injury.
Check out this video of the Dynamic Side Plank, a great bodyweight exercise for strengthening the quadratus lumborum as well as other core muscles. You can do the Dynamic Side Plank with a dumbbell as shown in the video or without a dumbbell to make it a pure bodyweight training exercise.
5. Bodyweight Training Exercises are Incredibly Convenient
Many barriers to working out based on money, time, or space vanish when you begin a training program utilizing bodyweight exercises.
If you don’t have the money to join a gym, if it’s tough for you to make time to go to the gym, or if there simply isn’t a decent gym in your area, you will want to rely on bodyweight exercises to get into great shape.
Since you need no equipment for many bodyweight exercises, or rather, your body becomes the equipment, you can easily do bodyweight exercises whether or not you have gym access or the money to invest in a home gym.
Bodyweight exercises are anytime, anywhere exercises. You can do bodyweight training exercises spontaneously at the park, at the beach, while camping, on vacation, while traveling for business, etc. This makes bodyweight exercises much more convenient than workouts relying on access to free weights, weight machines, or cardio exercise machines.
Watch this video to learn how to properly perform Push Ups, the classic anytime, anywhere exercise that should be a staple of everyone’s exercise routine. There are many advanced versions of the Push Up available in our video library, but make sure you have mastered the basic movement before you progress.
How to Learn More About Bodyweight Training Exercises
We at AskTheTrainer.com have a free video library of bodyweight exercises. Simply visit our No Equipment Exercise Video Page to learn dozens of bodyweight exercises taught by expert personal trainers.
If you like bodyweight exercises, you may want to look into TRX suspension training. Using a simple suspension system mounted on the ceiling, TRX takes your bodyweight training to a new level with tons of innovative exercises. Check out our TRX Exercise Video Page to see TRX exercise demonstrations. Most gyms have at least a couple TRX trainers installed, and many gyms offer TRX instruction; call your local gym or contact personal trainers in your area to see if they have any TRX classes available.