Why You Should Be Doing Bodyweight Exercises: A Beginner's Guide

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When a person starts from ground-zero in their fitness journey, a good way to measure your strength is seeing what you are able to do with your body weight. As a personal trainer, I ask my clients, “How many push-ups do you think you can do?” There are two reasons I ask this question: First, it lets me know where you are strength wise. Second, it is possible to measure how much progress you are making if you are able to do 10-20 more push-ups per set after doing a fitness program like fit20 for a month or so. All in all, every strength training movement that you can do with dumbbells or barbells can be enhanced with mastering bodyweight exercises. Additionally, bodyweight exercises can be intensified to improve your cardio and overall strength just as much as going to the gym 3-4 times a week if done correctly.

Here are 4 reasons bodyweight exercises are a great way to supplement the workout routine you are currently doing:

You Can Literally Do These Workouts Anywhere

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Have you ever felt like you don’t have enough time to go to the gym and pound out one whole hour of lifting and running while other people are secretly watching you? Most people don’t have that kind of time nor want people to watch them workout. However, it is easy to grind out 100 body squats during your lunch break or even do some push-ups at the park. Don’t want to exercise around others? No worries! Find a room in your house where you are comfortable and get to work. A lot of the reason why most exercise routines fail is because they are not sustainable. Think about it, you can eliminate parking, changing clothes, and driving all together making for a more straightforward way to exercise. So, whether you focus on 1 or 2 days per week to do bodyweight exercises or build a whole program around your bodyweight, you can rest easy knowing that outside factors can’t play a part in not doing your exercises if you are doing them from the comfort of your home.

An Exercise We Recommend: Step-Ups

This exercise builds muscles around the knees and works similar to a squat. It can also improve your balance and stability in your leg muscles.

Build “Real” Body Strength

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When we go to the gym, we continuously look to add weight in order to justify that we are getting stronger. Unless you are a powerlifter looking to improve on your max weight, you may not need to use weights more than once or twice a week. There are different ways to overload your muscles like increasing the time, reps, or sets without adding weight. It is important to consider your relative strength, which is how well you control and move your body in space. How well can you pick yourself up off the ground when you are playing with your grandkids? How about the amount of time you can stand without your legs/knees getting tired? This is the relative strength we want you to improve on.

An Exercise We Recommend: Hanging Knee Tuck

This is for those who are having a hard time doing a sit up. It works your whole core and can help you build up to doing crunches or situps more effortlessly.

It’s Easy On The Joints

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If you are looking for a way to exercise pain-free, maybe low-impact bodyweight exercises can help you get to the point where you can add weight to your exercises at the gym. Think about doing a body squat as opposed to doing a squat with 250 pounds on the bar. If you lack balance, you could severely injure yourself if there is weight on top of you. Bodyweight exercises are simple because you can simply go until you can’t do another rep. Imagine trying to do one more rep on the chest press but since you can’t manage to do one more, the weight drops on your face. Yikes!

There is one exception here: Plyometric bodyweight exercises

Burpees and squat jumps aren’t the best on your joints. Stick with exercises that contain smoother movements like walking lunges, that don’t involve you having to jump off the ground.

Yes, You Can Actually Build Muscle

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You may not believe it, but you can gain just as much muscle from bodyweight exercises as you can going to the gym lifting weights for an hour a day. However; the key to building muscles is working until you have reached muscle failure. Oftentimes, we never reach muscle failure because we know what point during the exercise causes discomfort. Understanding that the key to building muscle isn’t about how many you do, but rather, completely exhausting your muscles goes a long way when trying to get the most out of your exercises.

An Exercise We Recommend: Superman

This exercise works the muscles all throughout your back and can help build flexibility and overall strength in your lower back. Don’t forget to engage those glutes by lifting those back legs!

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