If you’re looking for an effective way to gain strength, improve cardiovascular fitness or lose weight, then bodyweight training has it all.
Bodyweight is strength training. It is the first step on the journey to physical dominance and when skilled enough, will remain for life – Andy ‘IronMac’ McKenzie
Bodyweight training (using your own bodyweight as resistance) is often overlooked as a highly effective method of training for strength and fitness. The movements performed in this type of training mirror those that we all do in everyday life such as squatting down to play with the kids or climbing a ladder. Don’t be fooled into thinking that bodyweight training is easy – there are plenty of moves that will challenge even the most advanced athletes.
Here’s what bodyweight training has to offer:
- One of the best things about using your own bodyweight as resistance is that it’s universally applicable for all levels of athletes. There are plenty of regressions to make the movements appropriate for beginners and plenty more ways to ramp up the intensity for more advanced athletes. Beginners can start with air squats, single leg 90/90 or split squats. When these compound movements are performed correctly, they are challenging and build strength quickly. For the stronger athlete, try pistol squats, or work on your single-arm or handstand push-ups or use the gymnastic rings for single-arm inverted rows.
- You get a lot of ‘bang for your buck’ with bodyweight workouts, as they can have quite an intense metabolic effect. The cardio is combined with the strength, so it’s a very efficient way to train if you want a balanced approach to your overall fitness and don’t have time to kill in the gym. As there’s minimal or no equipment, you go from one exercise straight into the next, keeping your body working harder with shorter rest times, boosting the heart rate and metabolism. Think box jumps, burpees, squat jumps etc.
- Bodyweight training can be looked at as a form of gymnastics, which is kind of like a very advanced version of bodyweight training. You need to develop competency in certain basic skills such as scapular control and brachiating (hanging) before you will be able to master some of the more difficult movements, such as chin variations, handstands and levers.
- Flexibility & balance. To perform many of the bodyweight exercises, you need to know how to hold your body with the right posture to ensure you get the full range of movement. Practising these movements leads to increased flexibility. Single limb work can even out strength imbalances. Think about one of the W10 favourites; the humble split squat. Even without additional weight, this can be a challenging exercise, giving a deep stretch in the hip flexor, while moving the joints through a full range of movement.
- It’s not just about the elusive six-pack. Bodyweight workouts encourage a strong core since they require a great deal of stabilisation. Your core runs along the entire length of your torso and stabilises the pelvis and shoulder girdle. It’s what keeps us standing upright and protects your back. You might be surprised at how much energy or weight you can transfer through using your core. A strong core has plenty of carryover to improving your squats and deadlifts and most importantly help you avoid injury.
In my view, it is the ultimate form of functional movement fitness and at our Gyms and we include this type of training in all of our programmes and conditioning classes.
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