Body-weight exercises are free, offer incredible benefits, can be performed nearly anywhere, offer variety and require little if any equipment. You can do them in your apartment, house, garage or at the park…whatever space you have.
So, why don’t move people take advantage of them?
Like everything else, the media is in control. Think about it. When the media shows people in shape where are they usually at? The gym. So, consciously we begin to believe that we must join a gym in order to get in shape.
Nothing could be further from the truth. There’s nothing wrong with having a gym membership and using it weekly. However, don’t use “not having a gym membership” as an excuse not to exercise properly.
Truth is, body-weight exercises when performed consistently and correctly can provide nearly as much challenge and produce similar results as the fancy machines that are used in a gym.
Body-weight exercises are exactly what the name implies…they use your own body-weight (you can add weight if you want) for resistance. They are simple and effective for improving balance, strength and flexibility and according to Anthony Slater, CSCS, director of performance at Core Performance in Los Angeles, “Body-weight workouts emphasize the fundamental movement patterns you need in order to maintain pain-free, optimal posture and strength within your body.”
You can burn fat, build lean muscle mass and get a great workout in just by using your own body-weight. Just operating in life requires complex, multi-joint movements. Performing body-weight exercises puts you in touch with your own body. They help to prevent injuries and develop confidence, strength and stability.
An example body-weight exercise is push-ups. Once you’ve mastered enough reps using the floor, you can challenge yourself even more by changing them up slightly. Try using an exercise ball rather than the floor. Place your hands on the ball and perform a series of push-ups. You’ll definitely feel the difference.
Pull-ups are another great and challenging body-weight exercise that can be changed up to be more challenging when you are ready. After mastering the basic pull-up, try using a weighted vest when performing them to add to the resistance.
Both of the above exercises utilize the main muscle groups in the upper body giving you a complete workout in a short amount of time.
Squats are another great multi-joint body-weight exercise that employs one of the most fundamental of human movements. Squatting is a full body exercise that works all parts of your legs at the same time. When performing a squat, your core must be engaged to keep you balanced and stable.
The primary muscle groups used when performing squats are your quadriceps and hamstrings with your calf muscles in a supporting role.
You can vary this squatting exercise by using a bench or seat of some sort.
Sit on the bench with one leg out to front and arms stretched out for balance. Stand up on one leg then slowly sit back down again. Use the strength in our leg muscles to do the work.
Do all repetitions on one leg then swap legs and repeat with the other leg. For added intensity you can add a dumbbell. Simply hold the dumbbell in your hands while performing.
You only need to perform two challenging workouts a week of approximately 30-40 minutes per session to reap the benefits. Make sure to include a rest day following each workout because this is when muscular changes occur and muscles recover and strength increases.
Body-weight exercises are for everyone, not just for beginners. There are plenty of variations to tap into in order to build a solid foundation and keep you from getting bored. They can be done on their own as a full body-weight workout session or can be easily added to other strength based moves you are already doing. Additionally, you can add extra weight to increase resistance using dumbbells or weighted vests.
With your strength training resistance built in…there are no excuses for not exercising.
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