3 Benefits of Body Weight Exercise Over Other Modalities
With so many great and useful tools out there specifically designed to increase strength, stability or power it is easy to lose sight of the benefits of body weight exercise. I have always posited that simplicity is under-rated, but that isn’t an explanation of why we should be willing to go back to the basics. So what does body weight exercise have that other modalities like free weights, TRX, ViPR and kettlebells lack? Three things immediately come to mind…Efficiency (of time and space), Modifiability, and Inclusiveness. After exploring more below find out how Alameda Personal Training uses body weight exercise to help its clients.
Even if you have space available to store weights that isn’t how most of us would choose to use the space. So if you want to get a resistance workout using free weights you need to go to the gym. We all know the extra time involved with that process. You can get a perfectly good resistance workout in your home however, and skip the commute, check-in, locker room, gym gossip and return commute by using body weight exercise. For example this workout is quick and effective: Squat Jumps X20/Plyometirc Lunges X20 (back-to-back), Push-Ups X20/Plank Up-Downs X10 (back-to-back), Prone Pull Downs X20/Prone Flutter Kicks X30sec (back-to-back), Leg Lifts X20/Crunches X20 (back-to-back), repeat all exercises for 3-5 rounds. Try getting all those muscle groups in a 6’X3′ area using other resistance tools. Not to mention this workout will only take you 20-30minutes (sans shower) and it’s FREE!! Going along with the benefit of efficiency these exercises are EASILY modifiable.
As a trainer with and owner of Alameda Personal Training I believe in functional fitness. And because of this, I operate under the belief that a workout is not complete unless it includes exercises in all 3 planes of motion (sagittal, frontal, transverse). OK so you aren’t strapped for time, but you still don’t want to spend half of your workout changing weights or switching resistance tools to get a complete workout. With body weight exercise it is easy to get an effective and complete workout without adding steps. For example take the progressions to the workout from above to make a complete workout: Squat Jumps X20/lateral bounds X30sec (back-to-back), Plyometric Push-Ups X20/Plank twist X30sec (back-to-back), Prone Pull Downs X20/Prone Flutter Kicks X30sec (back-to-back), Leg Lifts X20/Bicycles X30sec (back-to-back), repeat all exercises for 3-5 rounds. This workout now includes all three planes of motion whereas the first instance was mostly in the sagittal plane, completing all 5 rounds in quick succesion turns this body weight workout in to a high intensity interval workout. What if you can’t do a push-up or you have a joint issue that doesn’t allow you to do high impact exercise like squat jumps (let alone weighted bench press or back squats)? This is where the inclusiveness of body weight exercise comes in.
No matter your, or your clients’, fitness level there is no need to be intimidated by exercise. Everyone can perform body weight exercise. You don’t need to be able to perform a power clean and press to get an effective workout. For example let’s regress the workout above: Air Squats X20/Curtsy Lunges X20sec (back-to-back), Plank hold X30sec/Modified Oblique Plank X30sec each side (back-to-back-to-back), Prone Pull Downs X10/Bird Dogs X12 each side (back-to-back-to-back), Reverse Crunches X20/Upright Bicycles X30sec (back-to-back), repeat all exercises for 3-5 rounds. This is a highly regressed version of the above workout for any de-conditioned individual. Still all body weight.
I use all kinds of tools when working with clients, and I think it is important to explore modalities of exercise other than body weight exercise. However, don’t be afraid to revert to the basics if you are low on time, space or money. Or if it is the case that you are, or work with clients who are, de-conditioned, don’t be intimidated. You can still get an efficient, effective workout with body weight exercise.