There is definitely a time and a place for those gym workouts – particularly when you have a skilled Personal Trainer to keep you honest and on track, but simple body weight exercises, disguised in out of the box movements can be phenomenal for achieving gains in strength, flexibility, and overall health. Best of all, they don’t cost a thing and you can usually do them just about anywhere. Here’s a couple of reasons why we love our Bodyweight Training
1 – It’s YOUR weight
Weights, strength and cardio are all relative to a particular person. It’s not uncommon to hear two VASTLY different body-shaped people in the gym comparing weight usage and lamenting the fact that one can more than the other. There are so many reasons why this is not an accurate measure of relative ability. Body-weight is a true equaliser. A pushup, for example, requires you to manipulate your own weight through the action, it’s an intrinsic barrier, rather than external, a manipulation of all the muscles through your body, with relative weight that they carry through the same repetitive actions. This is why classes like Les Mills GRIT and other HIIT based workouts are so effective and REMAIN effective. It takes a lot of effort to manipulate your own body weight, and no matter how heavy or light you get, you are still going to have to move your entire body. To put that a bit simpler – if you get lighter, you’re going to get faster. So instead of doing 10 slower heavier squat jumps, you might get out 15 faster ones in the same time, which means you’re still working just as hard and continuing to improve. Bodyweight training is typically able to be done just about anywhere – have a look at this list for 50 moves you can throw down as you like:
2 – Flexibility, Balance and CORE
The two metrics that a lot of people base their fitness on are brute strength and cardio, forgetting other essential elements like flexibility, balance and core. These are just as essential as the two perceived primary attributes. A really quick simple explanation of how flexibility helps:
Think of your muscle and how far it can move. The bigger its range of motion, the more work you are able to do. I.e a longer running step is more effective than a walking step (this is simple yes, but bear with me). As you get tired and fatigued, you also start taking shorter steps yes? As muscles soreness kicks in. So in undertaking flexibility training, and therefore increasing our muscles range of “effective” motion, we: a) allow for a greater efficiency in every movement, and when you are cycling and doing a silly amount of legs actions every minute this small increase adds up to a very surprising increase over time, and b) Allow ourselves a LONGER time at increased effective range because the muscles don’t shorten up as quickly. And I haven’t even touched on injury prevention. Add in balance and core strength required to keep your body stable and braced during just about everything bodyweight related (chin ups, jumps, pushups, running, burpees) and you’re going to increase your posture and overall sense of self-awareness in space.
Events like Tough Mudder and other obstacle challenges show us how much flexibility and core strength can help when it comes time to climb a wall or run along a plank of wood over an ice pool. You can start with these simple moves (they’re going to be surprisingly challenging I assure you!)
3 – You are going to see results quickly
We mentioned before how effective HIIT training and BOOTCAMPS etc can be. This is because that style of training engages compound movements (i.e those that utilise multiple joints and muscle groups). Isolated muscle group training (like bicep curls) is going to do wonders for the targeted group yes, but if you’re looking for an all around increase in general fitness, a reduction in body fat percentage and gains in functional strength – then body weight training is your friend.
This article is now to say that this method is the godsend of training methods – it’s merely one style that suits a lot of people for what they want to achieve. It depends largely on what you want to achieve, what interests you and probably a lot on where your friendsip circle trains etc. Bodyweight movements offer lots of benefits, especially if you haven’t entertained much resistance training before. If you haven’t looked into it much – have a look at the LES MILLS Grit series of classes (https://lesmills.com.au/gritseries) – there are 3 different types (strength, plyo and cardio) to get an idea of some different styles of body weight training. There are bootcamps, obstacle courses and all manner of “At Home” workouts you can search on the web.
Have fun – go hard – no matter how you train. Go for your goals – you are capable of more than you know.