There seems to be this ridiculous notion in the strength and fitness world that bodyweight workouts are specifically for beginners, or only for those who can’t make it to the gym. Well I’m here to tell you that that’s bull! Bodyweight workouts are for EVERYONE, and I’m gonna explain why even advanced lifters can, and will, benefit from a bodyweight based routine as part of their training.
The advantages of a good bodyweight workout are much the same as a free-weights workout. You’ll be stimulating your muscles to adapt and forcing changes in your muscle fibres. And depending on how you organise your exercises and rest times you might also be getting a good cardio session too.
As a result of all this you’ll be strengthening your heart and lungs, which will be improving lung capacity and oxygen circulation. You’ll have more energy, feel better, and save yourself an absolute fortune in healthcare. Now in my book I call that a win… But you probably know most of this already.
The Not-So Obvious
Lifting weights is great, if you know a little bit about me then you know I love Olympic lifting, Powerlifting, Strongman and all kinds of picking up heavy shit! But it’s easy to forget that the body is designed to move in a lot more ways than these sports typically use. (How often do you lunge and twist in powerlifting?) In fact, most of the exercises in these big strength sports are in the sagittal plane, which makes sense as that’s where we’re strongest. But should we really be leaving our weaknesses completely unaddressed? I’m a firm believer that structural integrity and good movement patterns underpin performance, and that without them our bodies are accidents waiting to happen (Google ‘compensation patterns’) Bodyweight training can address this issue.
Using only the resistance provided by our own body you can lunge, twist, rotate, balance, hop, jump, run and perform a huge variety of movements not typically used within the strength world. This is especially important if you’re a sports player. You may play Rugby or American Football and assume that strength and size are the most important characteristics (which to a degree they are) but without the ability to utilise this strength and convert it to explosive power, speed and in-play movement you’re always going to be left lacking. What use is it being a 250lb behemoth if you’re too slow to get anywhere near the opposing players?
Exercises you could do:
Squats, Lunges, hinges, Pull-ups, chin-ups, torso rotations, Russian twists, bear crawls, burpees, glute bridges and about a million plank and press up variations. Then there’s single leg deadlifts and balancing movements to develop unilateral stability.
And if you’re looking to convert some of that strength of yours into power then how about plyometric exercises such as squat jumps, box jumps, depth jumps, clapping press ups, jumping lunges, explosive split squats and dozens of unilateral variations.
In short, there are literally hundreds of bodyweight based exercises you can do to improve your overall movement quality, posture and core stability.
Just for Beginners?
Still reckon bodyweight workouts are too easy? Then check out this video of Frank Medrano. Watch it, be amazed, and then shut-up. When you can come back to me and say you can do everything you see, then we’ll talk!
Let’s wrap this up
If you’ve stuck with for the whole 500 or so words, then you’ve hopefully gotten a glimpse of why I think bodyweight workouts are so important. Do I mean that you can’t lift weights, hell no! What it means is that you should start integrating bodyweight based movements into your current programme. I always like using them for my conditioning circuits at the end of my workout, maybe give that a try.
However you decide to do it though, you’ll still be doing your body, and your performance, and whole lot of good!