Getting started with bodyweight exercise
By Melanie Hearse & Elliot Harris
Many of us think time and expense are the biggest obstacles to getting and keeping fit. But getting your arms and legs into shape doesn’t need to cost them. There are plenty of ways to work out using nothing more than what your mother gave you.
Bodyweight training is exactly what it sounds like – exercises that use your own body as the weight and sole form of resistance. You know plenty of examples already; think sit ups, push ups, crunches, lunges, planks and squats.
What you may not know is how to do these exercises to combine cardiovascular exercise with strength training for an efficient, full body workout. This will be the focus of our upcoming HBF Fitness Summer Program (which by the way, is completely free for all HBF health members).
Still need convincing? Here are five big pluses for bodyweight training according to HBF Fitness trainer Elliot Harris.
Any age, any fitness level
By adjusting the movements to make them more or less difficult, (for example, you can make push ups easier by doing them from a kneeling position, or harder by doing them with one arm) bodyweight training evolves with your fitness. You can also modify the exercises to make them safer, (for example, doing squats using a bench or chair), reducing the risk of falls.
By adjusting the movements to make them more or less difficult, bodyweight training evolves with your fitness. For example, you can make push ups easier by doing them from a kneeling position, or harder by doing them with one arm. You can also modify the exercises to make them safer, for example, doing squats using a bench or chair, reducing the risk of falls.
Less down time
If you rely on gym equipment or classes, busy periods at work or home (and trips away from home) can make it difficult to fit in a session. With bodyweight training your body is your gym so you can exercise anywhere, anytime. And you can slot bodyweight training into other exercise programs.
Basically bodyweight training means you always have a workout option.
Lower risk of injury
Bodyweight training is relatively low risk. You’re much less likely to strain a muscle using your body than with free weights or machines (and you’ll never need to worry about dropping that 5 kilo weight on your foot!). It adds up to less down time from injury and sore, overextended muscles.
One of the biggest benefits of bodyweight training is it combines a cardiovascular workout with strength training. Many bodyweight exercises are also compound exercises, meaning they work several muscle groups at once – so you can work all the major muscle groups in fewer moves and in a relatively short space of time.
Core strength and stability
Bodyweight training is brilliant for building that all important core strength that improves balance and stability and makes all kinds of physical activity easier (with enviable abs an added bonus). And good core strength means good form, making it more likely you’ll achieve your fitness goals and avoid injury.
So there you have it, an efficient, no-cost workout that can be done anywhere, anytime. All you need is some comfy clothes and a pair of runners. Ready to take the challenge? Sign up for a free HBF Fitness session and get started with guidance from our professional trainers.
The content of this article is not tailored for any particular individual’s circumstances. The author does not take into account your physical condition, medical history or any medication you may be taking. Any advice or information provided by the author cannot replace the advice of your health care professional. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of HBF unless clearly indicated.