Bodyweight training is an effective, simple, and easy way to get strong, get fit, and lose body fat- all at the same time. It is all too common for the average person to struggle with simple movements such as a squat, push-up, sit-up, pull ups, jumping, and sprinting.
If more people were efficient in these movements there would be fewer injuries, increased health and fitness, decrease in body fat, and an overall stronger person.
Look at gymnasts: they have INCREDIBLE muscular size, strength, and endurance and the majority of their training is done using their own bodyweight! No equipment? No problem!
Where to Get Started
The great thing about bodyweight training is that it can be done anywhere, anytime, and requires little to no equipment! For starters, you need to address your current fitness and strength levels:
- Can you perform a proper push-up, sit-up, squat, and chin-up?
- Can you do these without pain or sucking wind?
- Is your body composition where it needs to be?
- Are you in the best shape of your life?
- Is your training fun, exciting, and fresh?
If you answered NO to any of these, bodyweight training may just be the tool you’ve been looking for. Let’s look at how often to incorporate this training into your current training and how it can benefit you!
Importance of Bodyweight Training
Bodyweight training is HIGHLY underrated. It makes me cringe when a young athlete comes to me wanting to get stronger and faster but cannot even perform a single pull-up; or can’t perform 50-100 bodyweight squats without stopping; or perform 10 parallel bar dips.. You get my drift?
Even after you get the basic body weight exercises down, you can certainly work in variations! Here is a few body weight Dip Variations using just a power rack and few olympic bars (hopefully your gym has these already!)
If you are quite strong in the weight room and you cannot perform multiple repetitions of a bodyweight exercise without stopping, there is something wrong. A solid foundation needs to be built upon in order for the athlete or trainee to perform optimally. For example, Mark McLaughlin wrote in his “GPP for Freshmen” Article at EliteFTS.com :
“…Kids this age are void of a lot of the basic principles to begin lifting (lack of GPP, relative strength) and should not begin a serious weight training regime until certain strengths are in place.”
So the question is how to get them prepared. Jim Wendler was posed a similar question several months ago. Jim’s answer was very basic. Before anyone should begin lifting, they should be able to perform the following body weight exercises. Push-ups (50); sit ups (100); parallel dips (25); strict pull ups (10).” (1)
Jim Wendler Practicing What He Preaches
I would also add to that list 50 body weight squats (minimum) and front/side planks for 60 seconds. I would be willing to bet at least 1/3 of the average gym goers cannot do these.
I would also be willing to bet that most young athletes in the 13-16 year old range cannot perform at this level either. As for the athletes that have came into Synergy Athletics, I can think of 3 that could perform the requirements above (one being the 275 lb bencher – who is now up to 275 x 3).
Benefits of Bodyweight Training
OK, so now the challenge is putting it all together: exercise selection and the reasoning for why we are using bodyweight exercises.
Benefits of body weight training exercises:
- Increased relative strength, GPP (general physical preparedness), and endurance.
- Increased cardiovascular health.
- Increased capillary density.
- Decreased body fat.
- Increased posture and muscle tonus.
- Decreased risk of injury to shoulders, knees, and lower back.
- Increased mobility flexibility through full range of motion training.
- Improve recovery and decrease muscle soreness
- Body weight training is FUN and DIFFERENT. It may add some variety to your training and keep it from becoming monotonous and boring!
Implementing body weight training and exercise can be simple and easy. Because of the nature of bodyweight training and the minimal eccentric damage put upon the muscular system and little stress on the CNS, you can perform them 3-5 times per week and still make progress.
Regardless if you are implementing a weight training program now, or looking for a new program, doing these body weight exercises can be easy.