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10 reasons to start body-weight training

Body-weight training has gained enough popularity to move into the top fitness trend for 2015 and it is easy to see why. Body-weight training is essentially using your own weight for resistance, as opposed to free weights or machines. As an exercise physiologist, I hear all the common excuses to not workout (I'm too busy, I don't have enough money, I'm too embarrassed about my fitness level) and body-weight workouts can help you overcome those. Here are my top 10 reasons to start body-weight training.

  1. It's free. You don't have to pay for a gym membership, transportation costs or special equipment. You may not even need to leave your home—you can do body-weight training anywhere, anytime.
  2. It's quick. Not having enough time to exercise is the number one excuse I hear to not work out. Body-weight training is a great time efficient way to gain strength and cardio in one workout.  Since there is no equipment involved, transition from one exercise to the next is quick with short rest times in between. Shorter rest times means you can quickly boost your heart rate and burn more calories.
  3. No gym required. I often hear people say they are intimidated going to a gym (especially beginners). With body-weight exercises, there is less anxiety because you can work out somewhere you feel comfortable; your home, office, park or hotel room. There is no perception of judgment for your strength level or ability to use a certain machine.
  4. Everyone can do it. Exercises can be modified to your fitness level. For example if regular push-ups are a challenge, modify the exercise to do them with your hands on a bench. This reduces the weight you have to lift.
  5. More muscle, less boredom. Progress is made by moving onto a more challenging movement and not simply adding more weight on the same exercise and repeating. As you master harder versions of body-weight exercises you will continue to put on muscle mass.
  6. Increases flexibility and balance. Body-weight training helps you become more functionally fit, which means it helps you move better in daily activities (from lifting a suitcase over your head in an airplane to playing with your kids) and sports. These exercises are the ultimate form of functional fitness because you're moving your body the way it was designed to move.
  7. Builds strong joints. To prevent injury and be strong all over, you need strong muscles and joints. Body-weight training works the joints and tendons as they were meant to be worked, which helps to create strong joints and tendons for life.
  8. Maximizes strength. A common misconception is the person who can push, pull or lift the most weight is the strongest. The strength of your joints and tendons play a key role in your overall strength. Because body-weight training improves joints and tendons, it can help you develop greater strength and power than weight training alone.
  9. Improves core muscles. Your core is needed to stabilize your body for many body-weight exercises. These exercises improve core strength and results in better posture and stability.
  10. Increases coordination. Body-weight exercises require the coordination of multiple muscle groups into functional movement. This exposes your body to different types of stimuli and activates muscle tissue in a more diverse way than traditional weight training. This holistic approach to strength training develops the entire body at once.

Try these body-weight exercises to get a full-body workout:

  1. Push-up
  2. Pull-up
  3. Chair dip
  4. Wall sit
  5. Squat
  6. Lunge
  7. Hanging knee raise
  8. Scissor kick
  9. Superman extension

Not quite sure how to do the exercises? Use this  body-weight exercise chart to learn how to do them all.

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