The world of fitness nowadays can be a little bit tougher to navigate. After all, there is so much to learn—what is body weight training, what is the best diet to follow, what muscle group to focus on, etc.
And one of the most frustrating things about working out is that all the equipment seems to be necessary all the time. However, gym memberships can be expensive, and going to the gym itself may be time-consuming. Not to mention, having all the necessary equipment at home can be equally challenging, physically and financially.
Well, if you are among those who believe that the only way to build muscle and get stronger is by using fitness equipment, then you are in for the surprise of your life! Yes, equipment may be convenient and useful in some instances, but it is in no way necessary for physical development and achievement of your fitness goals.
There is a wide array of ways to achieve your goals, improve your physique, and build muscle mass without using anything other than your own body. In fact, this is called bodyweight training, and it is one of the most effective fitness strategies ever created.
In this article, we will discuss bodyweight training and find out why it works so effectively. The human body is an intriguing and intricate thing, and there is a Science behind every fitness strategy, including bodyweight training. Keep reading to find out how to use this technique to reach your fitness goals.
What Is Body Weight Training?
Bodyweight training is a workout that uses only your—you guessed it right, body weight. That means no equipment, no weights, and no machines—nothing but your body and mind to get the job done.
Bodyweight training is the oldest form of exercise by far. Long before gyms, weights, and exercise machines were invented, humans were improving their physique and strength with no additional help.
In many common bodyweight exercises, gravity plays a large role. Think of a push-up or a pull-up; your body is forced to resist gravity using its weight.
Why Choose to Do Body Weight Training?
Bodyweight training has become more and more popular as of late, even with all the crazy changes and advancements in the world of fitness. Although fitness fads like cycling and Pilates are popping up all over the place, bodyweight training is still at the core of the fitness world and used in almost every fitness routine.
As the world becomes busier and more connected, it becomes more difficult to commit a lot of time to physical health and working out. The idea of hitting the gym every day or even every week can seem overwhelming for the average person. Bodyweight training makes this unnecessary and can alleviate a lot of the stress associated with working out and improving physical health. By utilizing bodyweight training strategies, anyone can work out anytime, anywhere. This fitness technique can be done at home, in the park, in a hotel room or anywhere with a little bit of space and a little bit of motivation.
Bodyweight training is perfect for everyone from complete fitness beginners to experienced bodybuilders. If you are a beginner, then it can be a great way to ensure that you won’t overdo the workout, which may result in injuries. Using weights and other fitness machines can lead to accidents if you take on more than what you can handle and overextend yourself. With your body weight, you are taking on just the right weight and resistance for your body, making it easier as you slowly build your strength.
Moreover, bodyweight training is also great for you even if you already have a strong foundation of muscles or are experienced in fitness. It allows you to hit every muscle in your body and keep pushing them to the limits. Although it does become easier, your muscles are still constantly growing. Plus, there is an infinite number of ways you can move your body to see the maximum amount of results.
The Advantages of Body Weight Training
Bodyweight training has a seriously extensive list of benefits and advantages. Let us take a look at just some of the reasons why it is an amazing way to pursue your fitness goals and get started on a healthier path.
It is Convenient.
It is likely that everyone reading this can relate to one thing: being busy. The modern world is increasingly fast-paced and time-consuming. Even for the most goal-oriented and organized person, it can be difficult to keep physical fitness at the top of your priority list. From work and family matters to hobbies and other commitments, hitting the gym is probably the last thing you want to think about every day.
That is why bodyweight training is a great option for everyone. As we have mentioned earlier, it is convenient. Bodyweight training necessitates nothing except for yourself and a bit of space. You can work out at home, in the park, or even in the subway station if you really want to! The point is that nothing is holding you back if you are focusing on bodyweight exercises. You can achieve your fitness goals without pulling back on any of the other goals or commitments in your life.
It is Cheap.
Similarly, bodyweight training does not require a single penny. There is no need to start researching the costs of gym memberships or spin classes when you are focusing on bodyweight training—it is absolutely free. There’s no need to invest a bunch of money into the gym and feel bad for never making it there. Work out when you want, where you want, and don’t spend any money to do it.
It is Fun.
There is a limited number of machines in a gym and limited ways to lift weights. However, there is essentially no limit to the number of ways you can move your body. The human body is versatile and capable of many things. Bodyweight training has so many different options, adjustments, and cool variations that it is impossible to get bored!
Are you sick of push-ups? Try a totally different arm workout! Do you despise squats? Do a different leg workout! The possibilities are endless! Not to mention, it is easy to involve a friend or family member in your bodyweight workouts. There are plenty of fun pair and group exercises out there to try. While the gym can quickly and easily start to feel mundane and boring, bodyweight exercises certainly don’t need to reach that point.
It is Safe.
Hitting the gym without any knowledge or experience can actually be slightly dangerous. The human body is incredibly strong, but it is also fragile and delicate in many other ways. Pushing your body past its limits or using the wrong form can leave you with lasting injuries or worse, significant damage that may affect you for life! With bodyweight training, these risks are significantly reduced.
Since the only weight you are working with is equal to or less than your body’s weight, it is safe to say that it is just the right amount for you to handle. Plus, it is simple and easy to add variations to bodyweight exercises!
It is Easy.
No, you don’t need to commit your entire life and take an oath to want better physical health. Anyone can have physical fitness goals. In fact, it is a good idea for everyone to have them! Physical health is often the last thing we think of, but it is one of the first things we should be focused on. We can’t emphasize this enough.
With bodyweight training, the whole idea of fitness is much easier. Bodyweight exercises are easy in every respect. There is a wide array of basic moves that anyone can learn and master quickly. There are also infinite ways to vary these moves to make them more fun and more challenging. Bodyweight training is easy to tailor to what you want exactly and what you can handle.
It is Effective.
No, bodyweight training is not any easier or lesser form of working out as some people falsely believe. You can see just as many results from bodyweight training as you can by using any other form of training, including weight lifting. Bodyweight training is effective at building muscles, cutting down on fat, and giving you better balance and increased strength. It is one of the most underestimated forms of exercise, even though it truly is one of the most effective.
It is All-Encompassing.
Bodyweight training is not just about your muscles or about weight loss. It taps into almost all important points of physical and mental health. With bodyweight exercises, it is easier to activate and use every single muscle in your body. Bodyweight training can include cardio exercises, endurance training, and strength building all under one strategy. You can do it all using just your body.
It is Brain-Enhancing.
Compared to other types of workout, which can become repetitive and even boring, bodyweight training is great for the human brain. It increases neural plasticity, which is what happens to our brains and nervous systems when we try new things and challenge ourselves. Hence, bodyweight training is advantageous not just for the body but the mind as well.
It is Healthy.
Aside from the obvious and many advantages of taking care of your body in general, bodyweight training offers several other health benefits. It has been shown to increase joint and bone strength, increase stability, and improve longevity in athletes.
Studies have also shown that bodyweight training is one of the best exercises for beginners and seniors since it poses the lowest risk in staying active. Bodyweight training also has a high level of output and benefits with a fairly low level of time and effort investment. It helps to get your body moving while still giving you the choice of how far to push it and how much time you want to invest.
The Disadvantages of Bodyweight Training
Just like everything else, bodyweight training has its drawbacks. Every workout and fitness program has both advantages and disadvantages, bodyweight training included. Let us take a look at some of the cons of bodyweight training.
It is Difficult to Measure.
With things like weights and exercise machines, it is pretty easy and straightforward to track your progress and see improvements. It is as simple as lifting something heavier or holding something for longer. However, with bodyweight training, progress tends to be harder to track and much less linear. Although this is good in the long run, the focus is on technique and longevity and not just how much weight you can lift. It can be a little discouraging to not feel any concrete changes in your physical strength.
It is Body-Type Dependent.
Everyone has a different body type, which means that bodyweight training is not exactly one size fits all. Different bodies may find it easier to do different exercises, regardless of actual strength or training. It all depends on your body’s dimensions, which can be a challenging thing to measure properly or face while working out. Not to mention, beginners with higher levels of fat may have a more difficult time getting started and mastering the movements since their bodyweight could be overwhelming.
It is Limiting.
Although this may occur in the long run, there is a limit to the amount of muscle you can grow using only your bodyweight resistance. That is where the use of weights and machines comes into play, especially for people who already have high rates of muscle mass. There are also a handful of muscles that are hard to improve using only bodyweight—for example, the posterior chain.
It is Time-Consuming.
This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage of bodyweight training. It is an excellent way to get stronger slowly and safely. However, this can feel like you are doing a lot of work and not seeing a lot of results! It often takes longer to see tangible results when doing bodyweight training.
Foundational Body Weight Exercises
You have probably heard of or done most of these exercises without even realizing that you were doing bodyweight training. The truth is, many of the main exercises and foundational moves in fitness are bodyweight exercises. Check out these useful exercises:
Down onto your hands and feet, lower your entire body to the ground, and then push back up using your arms. This is one of the most common and basic workout moves of all time, and it is one of the most effective ways to tone your arms, shoulders, back, and chest muscles. When doing a push-up, it is important to ensure that your body is kept in a straight line or parallel to the ground to reap the maximum benefits.
Pull-ups are one of those exercises that looks easy until it is actually time to do one! They are surprisingly challenging to master, forcing you to lift the entire weight of your body.
Start by holding onto a bar with palms up. And using your arms, pull your entire body up until your head is above the bar. You are moving against gravity and the resistance of your full body weight. Thus, it is the ultimate bodyweight training move and a great exercise to strengthen your arms and shoulders.
Start in a standing position and slowly lower yourself to a push-up position by walking your hands from your feet. Once you are down in a push-up position, walk your hands back up towards your feet, and stand up.
This workout is incredibly useful for your arm strength as well as shoulder strength.
Stand with your knees bent and then jump as high as you can, tucking your knees into your chest and stretching your arms out.
Tuck jumps strengthen your whole body and are also great cardio exercise. They are a high-intensity movement that helps you break a sweat and get moving quickly.
Lower yourself to your hands with your legs extended behind you in a plank position. Alternate between bringing your right and left leg up towards your chest and then back behind you—literally, like climbing a mountain.
Mountain climbers are a great full-body workout that uses almost every major muscle in your body, especially your chest, arms, and hamstrings.
Lower your whole body to the ground, holding yourself up with either your hands and feet or your forearms and feet. Keep your body in a straight line, ensuring that your hips are not too high or too low.
This position engages your core to hold you up and off the ground. It is one of the most challenging and effective ab workouts.
Complete a push-up and then jump and tuck your feet behind your arms. Next, jump with your arms raised upward and then jump back down into a push-up position.
Burpees are a challenging full-body exercise by any standard, but they are also one of the most effective bodyweight training moves. Burpees are a form of cardio and endurance exercise, helping you condition yourself and burn lots of calories in a little time.
The name of this workout is fairly self-explanatory—you sit against a wall! It is not as easy as it sounds, though. Find a flat wall and get into a squat position with your back pushed flat against the wall. Start with a few minutes and slowly build up the amount of time you hold your body in this position.
Wall sits work every part of your lower body, as well as your core. They are great for building up endurance and muscle.
Starting in a standing position, step one leg forward and then lower your back knee nearly to the ground. To continue, you can walk around the room in this fashion or simply continue the motion in place.
Lunges are an incredibly effective leg workout that also helps to tone your core and increase stability.
Some Variations to These Body Weight Exercises
The best thing about these basic bodyweight training exercises is that they all include a long list of variations that work different muscles and present a new challenge. It is difficult to get bored because there are so many ways to switch up these basic moves and make them into something completely new and fun! Check out some of the most common variations below:
Wide- or Close-Grip Push-Ups
Instead of doing your conventional push-ups, you can do them with hands close together, such as a close grip, or further apart like a wide grip. Wide-grip push-ups put more emphasis on your shoulder muscles while close-grip push-ups make your triceps work harder.
Rather than simply pulling your body straight up over the bar, a kipping pull-up makes use of momentum. Here, you swing your legs backward and then forward as you pull your body up. This makes the pull-ups easier to do but more dynamic on your muscles.
In this version of inchworm, bring down your entire body to the ground. Then, lift your hands and legs, balancing on your core, before beginning to inch up again. Not only does this add a quick core workout to the mix, but it also makes it more challenging on your arms and legs to get back up and down each time.
Low Tuck Jumps
Rather than starting in a normal standing position, start crouched down as low as you can before jumping back up each time. This forces your leg muscles to push you further each time you jump.
Army Crawl Mountain Climbers
Start in a plank position on your forearms, alternating between each leg forward. You inch forward slowly, working your core and forcing your legs to work harder, moving forward each time.
From a basic plank on your hands, rock your body forward, pushing your shoulders further forward than your hands and then back again. This controlled movement forces all your muscles to activate.
When you do the push-up portion of your burpee, do it with only one leg to add a little bit more challenge and push your core further.
Single-Leg Wall Sit
Once you have mastered the wall sit, try crossing one of your legs on top of your other knee, allowing one of your legs to hold you up. Not only do you have the additional weight to hold up, but it is also only one leg doing all the work. Be sure to do equal amounts of time focusing on each leg.
Lower your body into a low lunge, with your back leg extended straight behind you. Then, bring your hands flat onto the ground, both inside your bent leg. You can push into this stretch to extend your hamstrings. Be sure to alternate and do this with each leg forward.
Types of Body Weight Training
One of the best parts about bodyweight training is that it can be tailored to your specific fitness goals. As we have mentioned, it is an all-encompassing workout that can be used for many different forms of training. From cardio to endurance to strength, there are bodyweight training moves for everything! Take a look at the main types of bodyweight training below:
Cardio is one of the most common types of exercise to complete with only your bodyweight. Simple moves like running, jumping jacks, and mountain climbers are perfect for getting your heart rate up quickly.
Bodyweight exercises that force you to hold positions and control your muscles are ideal for building up endurance. Movements like wall sits, squats, and rocking planks are great examples of this workout. They keep your muscles engaged for increasingly long periods and help you gain more control over them.
The majority of bodyweight training is focused on strength training. The moves use resistance against your body weight to activate your muscles, forcing them to become stronger with every workout.
Many bodyweight exercises are ideal for improving flexibility. For example, lunges and lunge variations are perfect for extending your legs’ range of motion. Bodyweight exercises that push your muscles and extend them can help to make you more flexible and give you more ease of motion in everyday life.
Stability mainly comes from your core muscles. When your core is strong, it is much harder to fall over and much easier to stand tall and balance. Bodyweight exercises like planks, bridges, and their variations help to strengthen the core; thus, give you better stability.
The Science Behind Bodyweight Training
The truth about bodyweight training is not just circumstantial; it is scientific. There is a Science to gaining muscle and getting stronger.
Burning fat is relatively simple; it mostly encompasses burning calories and getting our heart rate up. However, improving muscles strength and muscle mass is a bit more complicated. The human body is made up of many different muscles.
Essentially, every time we work out and feel that burn in our muscles, we are destroying and damaging our muscle tissue. Although this sounds negative, it is actually good! As soon as we stop working out, our bodies get to work, replacing and repairing these tissues with stronger and thicker ones. That is how we become stronger and gain muscle mass. However, there are plenty of other things at play. The three main factors in activating muscle growth are:
- Tension: In order to incite muscle growth, you have to tense up your muscles. This means you can’t do things that feel easy—things that your muscles have already adapted to. You have to challenge yourself and do things that cause more tension than your muscles are used to. In bodyweight training, the use of variations and extended periods help achieve this.
- Damage: Muscle tension leads to muscle damage, which forces your body to start repairing and replacing muscle tissues. Feeling sore is a typical side effect of this muscle damage taking place in your body.
- Metabolic Stress: Metabolic stress is the scientific way of describing the burning sensation that occurs when you push yourself during a workout. This burning is actually forcing the cells around our muscles to move around faster and contribute to muscle growth.
Bodyweight training can achieve all three of these factors; thus, allowing you to build up your muscles and become stronger without ever stepping into a gym. One of the most impressive parts of bodyweight training is the sheer amount of variations and fun things you can do to push your muscles to the limit. This allows you to reach all the different muscle groups in your body continually.
So, what is body weight training? As one of the world’s oldest fitness techniques, it is certainly worth a shot for anyone hoping to gain balance, get stronger, and improve their fitness or overall health. Luckily, there is no reason to spend a large sum of your hard-earned money on expensive gym memberships or private fitness classes. It is perfectly attainable to get stronger and become healthier from the comfort of your own home and by simply using the most powerful tool at your disposal—your body.
Although you have also heard about some of the disadvantages of bodyweight training, there is absolutely no reason to limit yourself to one type of training. In fact, some people leave bodyweight training on the back burner because they underestimate the results that it can provide. But, there are no more excuses left when all you need is your body and a bit of gravity, right?
With that said, we hope to have enlightened you—if not encourage you with the fun facts that we have shared and discussed about bodyweight training. We hope that the Science behind this fitness technique as well as its foundational exercises and their variations provided you with a comprehensive guide to help you get started with your bodyweight training today!
Cheers to a healthier and fitter you!