Bodyweight training – increasing strength through bodyweight exercises


Advantages and disadvantages of bodyweight training

Body weight as a training equipment

Did you know that your own body weight if a perfect training equipment? Bodyweight training is simply a mode of resistance training in which the resistance is provided by the body rather than by an external weight such as a barbell, dumbbell, or the weight stack of a selectorized machine.

A long time ago, pull-ups, sit-ups, and push-ups were considered strengthening exercises and were and still are commonly used by the military and law enforcement. For some reason, probably the invention of really cool weightlifting equipment, we have forgotten that our own body weight is often enough resistance to force us to struggle (at least in the beginning).

While we are a huge proponent of using all types of resistance, bodyweight training is without a doubt the most convenient type of resistance. All you need is your own physical being, and you’ll never be without equipment or a facility and you’ll never need a spotter. In other words, if you learn to use your body as a barbell then you’ll always have the ability to obtain a great workout. You can gain tremendous functional fitness in terms of strength, power, balance, and endurance from progressive bodyweight training.

Own body weight & partner body weight

You can use your own body weight or that of a training partner as a form of resistance in you workout.

  • Own body weight. Exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups, dips, body-weight squats, and crunches use pure body weight, nothing else, to get the job done.
  • Partner body weight. When training with a partner, you can do a variety of exercises that use the
    partner’s body weight as resistance. For example, rows, bench presses, and squats can all be done with the weight of a training partner.

Top eight benefits of bodyweight training

Here’s why you can benefit from adding bodyweight training to your fitness routine.

  • Such a workout is great for general conditioning and increasing muscular endurance.
  • Bodyweight training is specific to each individual’s anthropometrics.
  • Pull-ups and chin-ups are among the best exercises for upper and middle back strength and muscular development.
  • You can do a wide variety of interesting, effective abdominal exercises without specialized workout equipment.
  • Bodyweight training appears to offer a low-cost training method that allows for the development of relative strength levels.
  • Improves body control. Very functional for developing better strength in day-to-day activities.
  • Strengthens several muscle groups at once. Most weight training exercises isolate only certain muscles, requiring a fairly small portion of your body’s total muscle mass. Bodyweight exercises incorporate many at once. These exercises have the added benefit of being much more demanding of core strength than exercises that require weights and machines.
  • Bodyweight exercises also use motions that keep you safe from the many chronic injuries, like joint problems, that come over time with weightlifting and other unnatural exercises which have little functional value in our daily lives.

Drawbacks (weaknesses) of bodyweight training

  • It’s very difficult to build lower-body muscle and strength without weights.
  • Beginners won’t be able to do pull-ups and chin-ups, and thus will have a hard time building middle back muscles.
  • There are very few effective arm and shoulder exercises you can do using nothing but body weight—chin-ups and chair dips are good exercises, but there aren’t many other options.
  • The resistance load is limited to the individual’s body weight. As such, bodyweight training tends not to significantly affect absolute strength levels.
  • Unfortunately, when body-weight training reaches a certain point in terms of strength and endurance, it quickly reaches its limits. As in all disciplines, in order to improve, you must increase the difficulty. One of the ways do do this is to increase the number of repetitions. But if you go beyond 25 repetitions in bodyweight training, you move from strength training to strength endurance training. For building size and strength in the muscles, increasing repetitions is not as effective as increasing weight.

Most effective bodyweight exercises

Bodyweight exercise are strength training exercises that do not require free weights or exercise machines. The practitioner’s own weight provides the resistance for the movement. While some exercises do require some sort of equipment, the majority of bodyweight exercises require none. Bodyweight exercises, compared to weight lifting, often require much more flexibility and balance in order to perform repetitions.

  • Pull-ups
  • Chin-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Body-weight squats
  • Body rows
  • Step-ups
  • Dips
  • Body-weight lunge
  • Regular plank and side plank

Bodyweight exercises poster-chart

Body-weight exercise accessories

Certain equipment has been designed for use with exercises that primarily rely on one’s body weight. Below is the list of the most important bodyweight training equipment.

  • Chin-up bar
  • Dip bars
  • Vertical bench
  • Back extension bench
  • Suspension trainer

bodyweight exercises

Closing Thoughts

You don’t need any exercise equipment beyond what nature has already given you. You can do bodyweight exercises in your office, hotel room, or a convention center hallway. Moving your body weight is surprisingly tough at first. If you haven’t worked out for a long time, take it easy. Doing more than a few pushups or squats will make you sore in places you probably forgot existed. The workouts get easier quickly. When that happens, you can make them harder by working one arm or leg at a time. In fact, there are all sorts of refinements for adapting body-weight workouts to your current fitness level.

The ability to develop maximal strength or power (or both) with only bodyweight training will be eliminated because it cannot provide the intensity necessary to develop these physiological adaptations. However, if the goal of training is to develop basic strength levels or muscular endurance or both, bodyweight training is acceptable. To gain maximal benefits from this type of training, the emphasis must be on performing each exercise in a slow, controlled manner with perfect technique.

In general, for muscular hypertrophy (muscle growth), relatively equal amounts of free-weight, machine, cable, and body-weight exercises should be used.


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