Body weight exercises use your own weight to provide the resistance against the working muscles.
For many years the main understood advantage of bodyweight exercises was that they require very little or no equipment to carry out.
This means that for those people who don’t have access to a gym, they can still complete a strength building routine that will be able to stimulate the muscles to grow and get stronger.
Recently within the fitness industry there has been much emphasis placed on functional training. This is where you train in a way that adds strength to everyday activities or sports. So the movements of the exercises that you train with will be similar to the movements of the sports you play, or just the bending, carrying, walking or climbing of every day activities.
This comes from the recognition that so many extra muscles can be worked when the body has to support its own weight. We can use the bench press exercises and compare it to the push up to provide a good demonstration of how this works.
In performing a bench press, you lie on a bench and push a weighted bar from your chest up towards the sky. When carrying out this action you are isolating the front of your upper body to perform the movement, this means the rest of your body will not be used within the exercise and therefore no benefit will be gained - only that of your front upper body (chest, shoulders and triceps).
When performing a push up, you not only carry out the same pushing action with your chest, shoulders and triceps, but you also use many other muscles to hold your body in a straight position. This means that now your legs, abdominals, core, back and neck muscles are also working.
Not only are extra muscles being stimulated, but they are doing so in a way that means they have to control and stabilize your body whilst working in co-ordination with the surrounding muscle groups.
This all means that your body becomes stronger in its movements and at controlling and stabilizing itself, so when you come to swing that golf club or pick your son or daughter up, you will have the strength to do so.
If you only carried out traditional weight lifting movements, you would build good muscle, but you will only be strong in those specific movement you carry out, like pushing forward or upwards or bending forwards etc. What happens though when you are reaching up with a heavy box to the top shelf and you have to lean over to the side a bit to get it in the right gap, or you have to pick your child up and lift him over something and that requires you to twist and lean to the side, or you are walking your dog and it sees a cat and pulls you in what ever direction he wants to go.
Maybe you play a sport that requires lots of lunging, twisting, turning etc, like squash or tennis for example. Here your body has to be strong in so many directions that it is almost impossible to replicated that in a gym. But by using body weight exercises you can achieve so much more strength and control.
These proven methods have led to an increase in the use of body weight exercises in strength programs.
I can’t stress enough that body weight exercises are not just a compromise for those that have no equipment, I use them everyday with my clients who have well equipped gyms. Not because its the new craze or thing to be seen using, but because it gets good results, I need to get good results to keep my job.
Have a look at some of the bodyweight workouts and try a few out, it doesn’t take long to realize these exercises work.