It’s not always possible to get to the gym to do a workout with weights and honestly, how many people really have a decent range of weights at home. Most people just have access to a couple of hand weights and maybe a bench and a treadmill if they’re lucky. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have the opportunity to really work out your muscles at home. A bodyweight workout will build strength and muscular endurance as well as go a long way towards helping you to lose weight, get fit and feel great.
BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT BASICS
A bodyweight workout really means what it sounds like it means. It’s simply working out using only your body for resistance. Pushups, situps, squats, planks, pullups and lunges belong in the bodyweight workout stable. Almost everyone can do some kind of bodyweight workout at home and the only thing I can think of that could prevent you from being able to get a great workout using only your body for resistance is perhaps your flexibility. Using weights machines in particular can be a low resistance option for resistance training and if you do have any kind of physio issues you’re working through then get some advice about the kind of range of movement you can handle before you take on a new body weight routine. But that’s just common sense.
Even if you do have access to a weights gym and you spend a lot of time there, a bodyweight workout can be a great way to add variety to your routine and give your joints and tendons a bit of break from your regular heavy routines. It can also be a great way to work on your flexibility and help to add an edge to your muscle tone. Simply changing things up now and again can bring your body a lot of benefits because it forces your muscles and circulatory system to adjust to change. Making changes can sometimes be the biggest challenge and can help you uncover some areas of your physique that you may not even have noticed you haven’t been paying enough attention to in your regular workouts.
KEYS TO AN EFFECTIVE BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT
Making a change to your workout routine – whether it’s from adding a bodyweight routine or switching to some HIIT or even slow cardio – also has a benefit for your mind. Change forces the mind to adapt and refocus. It can be difficult and highly rewarding when you’ve turned your mind to a new challenge and pushed yourself to achieve a goal you haven’t worked towards before. Your mind is your best ally in your weightloss/fitness/bodybuilding journey and you need to keep your mind sharp, focused and pushing your motivation to reach new heights. With a switched on mind there are very few goals you can’t achieve when it comes to physical fitness and personal wellbeing.
One of the keys to an effective bodyweight workout is to reduce the length of your rest periods in your routine. Most people will be familiar with high intensity interval workouts (HIIT). This style of workout out is a contrast to the slow, heavy routine of weights training for increasing muscle mass. If you’re working on a new bodyweight workout then you want to be borrowing from HIIT in the way you structure your circuits. Aim for 3 or 4 circuits of 4 exercises with rest periods between exercises of only 30 seconds.
Structuring your circuits is also pretty easy. Aim for 4 exercises and do 3 sets each lasting for about 45-60 seconds or until exhaustion.
AN EXAMPLE BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT
As an example, try one circuit with pushups (5 sets x 30 reps), bench dips (5 sets x 30 reps), Russian twists (5 sets x 30 reps) and wall sits (5 sets x 45 seconds). Remember to rest for about 30 seconds between each set. In total this circuit will take approx 25 minutes.
I’ve seen a lot of benefits to my fitness routine by adding a couple of 1-2 week periods a year in which I’ve done a bodyweight workout exclusively. Let us know your thoughts about whether you have seen any results from body weight workouts in achieving your fitness goals.