People have been using their body weight to be strong and fit for centuries.
It’s time to get back to the basics — we promise you’ll gain way more than a kick-ass shape.
Body-weight workouts are all about going back to the simplest form of exercise — no equipment needed. Using only your weight to get fit cab shape your best body and boost your confidence, making you look and feel better than ever.
These exercises-planks, lunges, squats and stretches, like yoga-are very effective, say Irene Lewis-McCormick, author of A Woman’s Guide To Muscle And Strength.
”Your body is a machine and you have to learn how to use that machine correctly to get the best results,” she says.
“Body-weight workouts help you do that because you don’t have any buffer, like free weights, to work with- so you learn exactly how your body works”.
Machines and weights have their place, but you can reap incredible benefits by training with nothing more than your body. Here are 10 of the best hot-body perks of body-weight exercise.
1. You can do it anywhere
Body-weight training is no-excuse-needed way of exercising and the workouts don’t cost you a cent.
When you use your body for resistance, you don’t need to join the gym - most exercises can be performed in a two-by-two-meter space anywhere, including the privacy of your own home. wherever you are — work, vacation , business travel — that's your workout facility, an you can keep up your routine without skipping a beat.
Plus, body-weight workouts are sustainable —they’re easy to stick with, and they eliminate any opportunities to say, ” That’s a hassle and I’m done.”. Most people can do the following:
Commit to high-intensity exercise several times per week
Find at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes to squeeze in challenging workout.
Commit to doing some low-intensity activity everyday
But heres the key: The exercise has to be super convenient and that's why body-weight exercises are easy to sustain for the long haul.
2. It's efficient
When you train with machines and tools like dumbbells, you often have to adjust the weight during your workout and that takes time.
Whether it’s sticking the pin through a different hole in a weight stack or grabbing a new pair of dumbbells, you lose precious moments changing weights instead of burning fat, torching calories and building muscle.
Plus, remember that when working out at a gym, you often have to wait for machines to open up or for other people to finish with the set of dumbbells you need.
Theres no waiting game with body-weight exercises. This also shaves time from your workout by allowing you to seamlessly make an exercise easier or harder.
And the more work you complete in a certain period of time, the learner and stronger you will be.
3. It blasts body fat
The best exercises for slimming down and toning up are resistance-training moves that:
Work multiple muscle groups at once.
Allow you to switch easily between exercises that work different parts of your body
Can be made easier midst to allow you to keep working without stopping or resting
Can be done anytime, anywhere with minimal space and equipment.
The best way to do body-weight exercises for maximum fat blasting is to use alternating set formats with minimal to no rest between movements.
Short rest periods, usually 30 seconds or fewer, release key fat-burning hormones while burning loads of kilojoules.
This approach — known as metabolic resistance training — provides maximum body-fat-burning in the least amount of time, boosts cardiovascular health, and delivers an afterburner that can elevate your metabolism for several hours after you’re done.
Its like getting the aerobic benefits of running but with the added muscle-building benefits of resistance training.
While machines simply train your muscles, body-weight exercises build muscle and train your brain.
Exercise machines were created in an attempt to target and isolate a given muscle group and to simplify exercises, so all you had to do was sit down, select a weight and perform a set movement.
This certainly made exercising easier, but ultimately this trend didn’t invite your brain to the fitness party.
The movement is set by the machine, so it takes your brain out of the equation.
You don’t really learn the movements but simply go through the motions, so theres no functional carryover to the real-world movements.
Plus, you don’t train your muscles to stabilise your joints, which means you increase your risk of injury.
With your body as your only tool, your brain needs to communicate with your muscles to do the movement with perfect form and natural motion.
5. It builds balance and prevents injury
Body weight train builds a well-balaced body where the muscles on the front of you are in proportion with those on your back side.
Unfortunately, our sedentary, seated lifestyle has led to structural imbalances that negatively affect our posture, change our bone and joint positioning, and cause movement that leads to pain.
Using machines, its easy to complete too many of one exercise without doing enough of the opposite exercise.
This creates an imbalance in your muscles and decreases your mobility, putting you at a higher risk for injury, both during day-tp-day activities and in sports.
Body-weight training, on the other hand, strengthens your joints by taking them through full range of motion.
6. It strengthens your core
Want sexy abs? Good news: you can sculpt them while watching series in your lounge.
Every key body-weight exercise is extremely core intensive and targets your abs way more than the machine or barbell alternatives.
In fact, a Mayo Clinic study found that planks, specifically side planks, are effective at building abs without stressing your spine.
Because your spine is aligned, it reduces injuries without sacrificing increasing abs strength.
Similar, body-weight squats are much easier on your spine that barbell squats. ( and you can do them anywhere!)
7. It sculpts a perfectly proportioned physique
Looking your best is one of the most powerful motivators when it comes to working out with consistency — and being lean and toned will build serious self-esteem and confidence.
Plus, body weight training maximises your genetic potential — sculpting your most natural physique.
You’ll achieve your best body ever with the best exercises to shape your shoulders, strengthen your legs and sculpt a firm and fierce midsection.
8. It's for both beginners and experts
Think you need to pump iron to build muscle? News flash: you can get strong and toned without doing any heavy lifting.
All you need are movements that activate all the right muscles.
The beauty of body-weight training is that it doesn’t require any equipment to start and the basic moves are the perfect place for beginners and endurance athletes who may not have much strength- training experience.
But that’s not to say that body-weight training is for novices only.
As with any type of training, you must constantly push yourself with more challenging exercises in order to progress.
Greater intensity produces greater results. When you progress like a pro, you’ll be able to make any exercise harder or easier based on your goals.
Whether you’re using harder movements for fewer reps to build strength and boost muscle or easier movements for higher reps to kick fat loss, your body is the only tool you’ll need to get the job done.
9. It's full of variety
Theres no denying the instant gratification that comes with using heavier weights in the gym, but you can use body-weight training to get the same level of satisfaction and more.
That’s because the pursuit of overcoming gravity is an endless one.
You’ll see consistent progress and always have something special to shoot for.
With body-weight training, you’re striving to perform more advanced skills- like the yoga moves later on- where with weight training, your only progress comes in the form of using heavier weights.
There are hundreds of ways to design workouts using these same exercises based on your fitness level, goal, and schedule. Body-weight training kicks boredom to the curb and will help you bust through any fitness plateau.
In the end, it provides a system that you can use for the rest of your life without ever repeating the same workout (if you don’t want want to). The options are endless.
10. It prepares you for life
Body-weight movements are natural, functional, and athletic.
They prepare your body for the way it’ll be used every day — whether it’s sitting properly in a chair or going up and down stair and hills.
They’ll improve your reaction time to catch yourself when you trip. They’ll develop all the muscles in your body to their full potential.
By focusing on movements instead of specific muscle groups, you improve your entire neuromuscular system, not just your muscles and advance your overall body awareness and coordination.
Article extracted from The Women’s Health No Gym Required!
This article was originally published on Women's Health South Africa.
WATCH: The Scientific 7 Minute Workout Video - Bodyweight Only Total Body Workout