The American College of Sports Medicine predicts that bodyweight training will be this year’s hottest workout. What is bodyweight training? Wikipedia defines it as “strength training exercises that do not require free weights; as the individual’s own weight provides the resistance for the movement.”
Because bodyweight training does not require weights, this can be an ideal workout for people who are interested in getting fit but who do not have access to weight-lifting equipment and who are looking for exercises they can do at home or on the road. For many bodyweight exercises, common household items can be used including bath towels. Some bodyweight exercises to master include:
The Plank – A great first bodyweight exercise to master is the “plank” which can help develop strength in the core, back, shoulders, thighs, arms and glutes. After you get into a push-up position on the floor, you bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms with your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. The body should form a straight even line from the head to the feat. Holding the plank position for two minutes will help tighten and strengthen your core. Be sure to read and watch videos on how to achieve the optimal plank position which are widely available online.
The Side Plank – With the side plank, you hold the plank position on your side and are supported with just one arm.
Pull-ups – When you do a pull-up, one’s latissimus dorsi muscle (lats), mid-back, rear deltoids, biceps, forearms and core are all engaged. A traditional pull-up relies on upper body strength where the body is suspended by the arms, gripping something and pulling up. For some recommendations on mastering the perfect pull-up, visit BodyBuilding.com.
Push-ups – “Push-ups can be done with normal arm width, close width or wide width,” says Dr. Charles J. Pelitera, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at Canisius College and owner of Pelitera’s Fitness Consultants. Find a host of variations on the classic push-ups at Greatist.
TRX Training – “The use of TRX bands or similar bodyweight devices has become very popular,” says Dr. Pelitera. “With one of these devices one can perform push-ups, pull-ups, various abdominal exercises and many other movements using your imagination and thinking out of the box.”
What types of results can one see from bodyweight training? “The results are found in increased muscle tone and strength,” said Dr. Pelitera. “There is a learning curve to some of the exercises but once balance and proprioception (i.e., a sense of how our bodies are positioned); the exercises become more coordinated and efficient. Diet and lifestyle modifications also play a role in results.”
Dr. Pelitera recommends that “newbies” to bodyweight training seek out a qualified instructor before doing exercises on their own. “It is always wise to seek out an expert for any type of exercise in which a person doesn’t have experience,” he said. “Personal trainers with certification earned through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM
) would be able to provide excellent knowledge and expertise in bodyweight training.”