Perhaps you have heard the term, “bodyweight exercises,” but are not quite sure how they fit into a strength training or bodybuilding program.
Bodyweight exercises refer to strength-training exercises where you do not need to use weights to build muscle, but instead rely on your own weight to provide that resistance to movement.
Watch This Bodyweight Exercises Video
Best Core Bodyweight Exercises
Some familiar examples of building muscle bodyweight exercises that you may be able to relate to include push-ups and chin-ups.
Other ones that you may be less familiar with include lunges, wall sitting, burpees, or plank positions.
In fact, many great core/abdominal exercises, such as plank exercises, involve the use of bodyweight exercises, with or without equipment, such as a Swiss ball or dumbbells.
Benefits Of Doing Bodyweight Exercises
- There is no need for a gym. If you travel frequently, do not have access to a gym, or cannot afford to go to one, then you can do your in home bodyweight workouts or in your hotel room.
- There is still the flexibility to add weights and kettlebells to challenge you even more.
- You can increase your endurance, as well as your body’s balance, flexibility, and coordination for activities.
Lifting Weights vs Bodyweight Exercises
There are many people who primarily focus on using weights for the majority of their strength training and fat loss. These people may choose to complement their weight lifting with bodyweight training programs when they are at the gym.
For example, the core abdominal exercises implement bodyweight techniques.
Others may choose just to do bodyweight exercises when they are unable to go to the gym.
There are others, however, who choose to focus the majority of their strength training by doing bodyweight strength exercises. In particular, many are proponents of bodyweight circuit training.
Why Bodyweight Circuit Workouts?
- You are working out multiple muscle groups at the same time. This means better use of your time!
- You are getting a cardiovascular workout.
- You will be burning more calories than if you were just doing cardiovascular exercise alone.
Are Bodyweight Exercises Good For Beginners?
Absolutely! Anyone can incorporate a bodyweight beginner workout into their fitness training.
If you primarily want to focus on bodyweight training, start by doing it three times per week, but make sure you are resting between days in order that you give your muscles time to recover and repair themselves.
Bodyweight Circuit Training Exercises Could Include:
10 Body Squats
Body squats are a classic exercise for building strength and fitness in the lower body. They involve bending the knees to go down into a squatting position, and then rising back up. Make sure to keep your knees in line with your toes, exhale when bending down, and push through your heels on the way back up. This exercise is simple yet effective in strengthening your quads and glutes.
Watch This Body Squat Video
15 Seconds in the Plank Position
The plank is a simple but challenging bodyweight exercise that engages your entire core. Begin by balancing on your elbows and toes, keeping your back straight and your body in one line from head to heels. Think of it like a push up with your arms bent. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds or as long as you can without breaking form. Keep breathing deeply throughout the exercise. You should feel the challenge in your abdominals, arms, chest, and glutes!
Watch This Plank Exercise Video
Lunges are one of the best bodyweight exercises to strengthen your lower body. To perform a lunge, step one foot forward and slowly lower your body down until both knees are bent at 90 degrees. Be sure to keep your chest up and back heel grounded. Hold for a few seconds, press back up through the front heel, then switch legs and repeat. You can also modify this exercise by adding weights or performing jumping lunges for an added challenge.
Watch This Lunge Video
10 Push Ups
Push ups are a great way to work on strengthening your core muscles. To do a push up, start by lying flat on the ground with your arms at shoulder width apart and your feet together. Engage your core and press through the hands to lift yourself off the ground. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your body back down until it is just above the floor. Repeat this motion for reps, maintaining control throughout and keeping the abs tight.
You can later make push-ups more challenging by doing push-up rows, which involve the use of dumbbells.
Watch This Push Ups Video
20 Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks are an effective and fun way to get your body moving while firing up your core muscles. To do a jumping jack, start in a standing position with feet together and arms at your side. Jump both feet out while raising your arms above your head. Reverse the motion by bringing both feet back together and lowering the arms back to the sides quickly. Keep abdominals tight throughout the entire movement and repeat for reps or hold each rep for as long as needed.
Watch This Jumping Jacks Video
Complete one circuit of all of these exercises using good form, and then try to complete two more. As you progress, you can add more challenge by learning variations of the above exercises.
For example, instead of doing just the plank position, do the side plank position, or incorporate the use of a Swiss ball. You can challenge yourself to hold the plank position longer and longer.
You can also add weights and more repetitions to other bodyweight strength training exercises.
Other bodyweight exercises to consider include wall sitting, mountain climbers, and bench dips, for example.
Bodyweight exercises are a great way to build strength, improve balance and coordination, increase flexibility, and burn calories. They require little to no equipment, making them a helpful and convenient addition to any workout routine. With the right exercises and proper form, bodyweight workouts can provide an effective and safe full-body workout.
In summary, working out with bodyweight can be the focus, or you can use them to complement your weight training regimen.