What are bodyweight exercises?
Well, the clue is in the name – you use your own body weight to workout, rather than relying on weights or equipment. Gravity is your resistance, and you tweak your positioning to adjust the difficulty. You can jump, push, pull, press etc, and simple changes in the movement can give different benefits.
Why do we love them? Well, bodyweight work has helped a lot of our clients through the lockdown. Usually, our truck arrives at their door, packed full of all the equipment they need for a session. Although we’ve not been able to go to them as normal, we’ve switched over to video sessions. Most people don’t have gym equipment, so we guide clients through bodyweight routines.
No matter what fitness level you’re at, these sessions are challenging yet achievable. Bodyweight workouts are great for beginners – you increase your stability whilst getting to grips with core movements. As you improve, instead of buying new kit, small ajustments make the exercises more difficult.
A bodyweight session is also an efficient way to work out if you’re pressed for time. No need to pack your kit, jump in the car and head to the gym or studio. Change into comfortable active clothing, and find a space at home (a patio or garage can work well). This saves you time – and probably cuts out a fair few excuses too!
Can you still build muscle with bodyweight excercise?
Whatever your goal, it looks like we’re going to be working out independently for a while longer. With this in mind, we’ve put together our guide to the best bodyweight exercises – and our trainer Louis shows you how to do them at home.
Simple but effective, the humble squat is a perfect start to your bodyweight repertoire. Squats are great for lower-body work, targetting the thighs, quads, buttocks and hips. As well as adding muscle tone, they improve leg strength, and help with your balance and stability. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out at 10 and 2 o’clock. Keep your chest up (eyes forward to help). Bend your knees to a 90 degree angle – your thighs should be parallel to the floor. Use arms to help you balance. Power up from your quads, and squeeze your bum at the top.
This exercise targets your core, and you’ll need your abs engaged throughout. To get into position, start by kneeling on your mat. Drop down on to your elbows, then extend your legs so you’re on your toes. You should then have just your toes and elbows supporting you. Ensure your spine is neutral (no bums in the air, and no sagging towards the ground). That’s all there is to it! You hold this position for as long as you can. Easy…
You can adapt this by trying a plank on your hands instead of your elbows, keeping your arms out straight. You could also try lifting one leg or one arm off the ground to really test your balance! Remember, as you add modification, keep checking your spine is neutral so you’re not adding any strain.
These 5 moves will give you a solid start to your bodyweight workouts. Try them, perfect them and as your ability progresses, start to modify the movements. Keep an eye out on the blog as we’ll be focussing on form, and adding in more exercises for you to try at home.