How many of you find it difficult to include gym membership into your budget? Or are just not a fan of those loud sweaty rooms filled with crashing steel and machines that resemble pieces of torture equipment?
Of course you could join a group exercise class to get fit and improve your muscle tone and certainly the Crossfit/ boot camp style/ interval training aerobic classes would serve this purpose but often these don’t conveniently fit into your daily schedule either.
All is not lost. Body weight training is one of the most low-cost/ time effective / time efficient and convenient ways to work out, something you can even do at home in your own time. You will never need a fitness facility or specific equipment ever again. Just yourself!
Unless you want to look like a competitive bodybuilder you don’t need to spend hours in the gym pumping iron. Short high intensity workouts involving body weight and plyometric (jumping exercises) are more time efficient as you can switch quickly from one exercise to another because no extra equipment is involved and with short rests between exercises it is easy to raise the heart rate and improve your fitness level at the same time while preventing the boredom a long repetitive workout might bring.
By alternating short (one minute?) intervals of strength exercises (like a push up) and cardiovascular exercise (like a jumping jack) it is possible to keep the hearth rate up while encouraging muscle and strength growth at the same time. Interval or circuit training like this is a great way to promote weight loss and burn extra calories.
Body weight exercises are suitable for everyone because they are so adaptable, depending on your level and starting ability. They can be easily modified to become easier or more challenging.
Changing the speed of the exercise (especially making it slower) or increasing the repetitions can also make the workout more challenging.
Many bodyweight training exercises involve using the 29 muscles of the human core so when you perform body weight exercises you are automatically including those muscles into your workout.
Body weight training can also improve flexibility – just consider yoga is ALL body weight exercise! Performing movements through the full range of movement ensures joints move freely and can help reduce the risk of injury.
If you use the excuse that you have ‘’no time ‘’ to exercise then a twenty minute body weight workout at home is the answer! Even if you are in a hotel room you can find the time and you don’t’ need equipment!
Even when the exercises become less challenging the workout won’t become boring as gym exercises and machines might do as body weight exercise can continually be adapted to become more challenging – a basic squat can become a single leg squat, as in the photograph and then developed into a pistol squat (not shown).
Body weight exercises get results because they consist mainly of compound exercises, exercises which include lots of big muscle groups and numerous joints. Examples of these are push ups, pull ups, lunges, squats and sit ups (or their variations to suit you.) It has been proved these type of exercises promote both muscle gains and performance improvements.
Gyms and even exercise classes can be expensive. Body weight training is free and can be done inside or outside, alone or with friends, depending what is convenient to you.
If you are not sure which exercises suit you then it is worth enlisting the help of a fitness professional specialised in body weight exercise to put together an initial workout for you so that you don’t over train certain muscles and neglect others, leading to muscle imbalance, can avoid exercises that might be contraindicated to existing or old injuries and monitor your technique. They can also give you guidelines as to which direction to progress as you become fitter and stronger, providing adaptions and more challenging variations. In addition to more advanced squats, you could perform a more advanced ‘’spider man’’ push ups, a more advanced ‘’bird-dog plank’’ on one arm and leg (of course there are many more simple variations) and a single leg hip raise (which you can start using both legs until you progress to this version). The options are endless and don’t have to start this advanced!