Bodyweight exercises are simply those that rely on your own body weight for resistance, rather than dumbbells or other weights. Bodyweight exercises can help you burn fat, build muscle, and boost cardiovascular health. Even better, with no equipment to buy or haul, they are easy to do just about anywhere. If you want to improve your all around health, not to mention shed a few pounds, don’t skip out on bodyweight just because it’s basic. Following are 12 great reasons to make a bodyweight routine your go-to workout.
Many of us struggle to fit in enough time for exercise, so the more efficient our workout time can be, the better. Luckily, research reveals that bodyweight exercises like plyometrics can yield high fitness gains through short workouts. You can also cycle through moves very quickly as there is no equipment to replace or new machine to adjust before starting the next exercise. That translates to shorter rest times and a greater calorie burn.
Combines cardio and strength training
There is no special equipment required to perform both cardio and strength training in one quick workout. Think moves like burpees, pushups, lunges, and jumping jacks to get your heart pumping and challenge your muscles at the same time.
Burns fat fast
If you have set a goal to lose some extra pounds, try adding bodyweight circuit training into your routine. It doesn’t take very long to get a major boost to your metabolism. If you have ten minutes, you can start burning fat with an intense combo of moves designed to help you shed those unwanted pounds and develop a sleeker shape.
Easily modified for anyone
Whether you are just starting out, looking to add a new level of challenge to an already established routine, or recovering from an injury, bodyweight exercises can be modified to support your needs. For beginners, perform the exercises more slowly and do only as many reps as you can without getting winded. For fitness pros, add extra reps, perform moves more quickly, and work on perfecting your form. If you are recovering from an injury, simply choose moves that don’t stress the hurt area.
Improved core strength
People tend to focus on abdominals when it comes to core strength, but in reality, there are 29 muscles that make up the human core. There are many bodyweight exercises that engage all of them, like oblique crunches, mountain climbers, and planks. So skip the traditional sit-ups and work to build true core strength.
Resistance training can sometimes lead to tight muscles if stretching exercises are not also incorporated. But bodyweight training can accomplish both strength and flexibility at once. When you complete bodyweight exercises that take you through a full range of motion, you will be rewarded with better posture and flexible joints. Yoga is a form of bodyweight exercise that is especially good for this.
A common excuse for avoiding exercise is that there is no time. But with bodyweight workouts, you don’t need any equipment and the moves can be done literally anywhere. Okay, you probably shouldn’t break out in jumping jacks in the middle of that business meeting, but they are great for getting pumped beforehand, or to blow off steam afterwards. It’s totally okay to break your daily workouts into several convenient 10-minute sessions, so there’s no excuse not to move.
Certain bodyweight exercises can help to improve your balance as well as build muscles. The key is a progression from regular moves to increasingly complex ones. For example, regular squats can be modified as single-leg (or pistol) squats, which force you to balance on one leg as you perform them. Remember that it is crucial to master the basic moves with perfect form before attempting a progression.
The same old workout every day gets really boring, and boredom is a motivation killer. Bodyweight exercises are infinitely customizable so that you can keep things fresh every day. In the same way that there can always be a new dance routine choreographed, there can always be a new bodyweight routine designed. Set your workout to music, challenge yourself to do more reps each day, or find a new scenic view to take in during your workouts whenever things start feeling dull.
Gym memberships and fancy workout gear can put a major dent in your wallet, but bodyweight training is free. Indeed, the low cost of this type of training is a big part of the attraction – all you really need is a good pair of sneakers. (And not even these if you prefer to exercise barefoot.) Free internet resources abound if you need some help deciding what moves are best for your goals.
Many people cite injuries as the reason that they stopped working out, and painful mishaps can certainly happen in any fitness routine. However, bodyweight exercises are among the safest that you can do, regardless of your age, fitness level, or experience. That’s true for a couple of reasons. One is that you aren’t using any heavy metal equipment that could fall on you. And two, bodyweight moves are very customizable to individual needs. There are so many different ways to move your body that it is easy to simply avoid ones that aggravate any existing injuries you may have.
It gets results
Bodyweight exercises get great results because they are so good at combining strength, cardio, balance, and flexibility into one routine. These routines often incorporate compound movement, which means that multiple joints and muscles are engaged in each exercise. And when you use bodyweight moves to improve core strength, research indicates that you will be primed for faster gains in strength throughout your body, not to mention better cardiovascular health.
In the end, there is no perfect workout for everybody. But there is a huge enough range of bodyweight exercises that everyone should be able to find something they like. Because these movements can be made more intense as you build your fitness level, you will also never grow out of this kind of routine. You are limited only by your creativity and the reasonable limits of your body – bodyweight exercise won’t make you double jointed or anything. But with all of the amazing benefits we’ve discussed, there is no reason in the world not to get started right away.