Do you want to get fit for the new year, but hate going to the gym? Let’s talk about just using body-weight exercises (BWE) to get fit and strong. If you want to be in the best shape ever you need to take the time to build a solid fitness foundation for the rest of your life. Before about the early 1960s weights and fitness machines didn’t exist. Fitness and strength were all done using the entire body. And, no matter how much technology evolves, if you strip it all away, one can still be extremely fit just using the body against gravity as it were.
Just training with the body allows exercise and fitness training to be done anywhere. There are no excuses about crowded gyms, lack of time, dislike of exercise, no facilities, and a host of other excuses. Best of all, you need no gym memberships or fancy equipment, which means a big savings in money over time. And, you don’t need to worry about working out in front of the muscle behemoths in the gym. It’s really you against the world. More importantly, space requirements are small. A square space the height and width of your body height is all you need or, you can expand into city parks, backwoods trails, or any other location. But, in the privacy of your own home you can do an extremely invigorating workout. This also means that you have the same opportunities during travel for work or vacation. So, do this – commit to high intensity workouts 2-3 times per week; perform body workouts for 10 minutes, 3 times per day (they can be done at work too); and add in some low-intensity time for walking, etc. This leaves you with no excuses not to work out.
The real advantage of body-weight workouts is sheer efficiency – no time needed to travel to the gym, adjust weight loads, choosing different dumbbells, no waiting for machines, etc. You’re ready to go in an instant and spend all your time burning calories and enhancing cardio. This leaves shorter rest times between sets of different exercises, which builds training density, i.e., more work over a shorter time and therefore, BWE will help you get leaner and stronger faster, notice we did not say bulkier.
Fat Burner Supreme
One of the best results of BWE is that they burn fat quickly and efficiently because they can be done anywhere for long or short periods; they allow you to alternate between body parts any time you want; you can make them easier – even in the middle of a set, which will allow you to complete the exercise; but more importantly, BWE works multiple muscle groups at the same time.
To burn fat most efficiently with BWE you should use very short rest periods between sets of specific exercises. This releases key hormones such as growth hormones that promote fat burning. In science, we call this metabolic resistance training, which provides maximum fat burning in minimal time. By keeping your heart rate up, fat will melt away, even that stubborn belly fat, which is usually the last to go.
Performing BWE actually enhances ones balance and helps to prevent injury because they make the body so well balanced and help to incorporate connecting muscle groups to each other without focusing on what we term weak-area training. Both pushing and pulling exercises are equalized almost without planning this is because, unlike other exercise regimens that focus on the upper or lower body, chest, back, etc., BWE requires working all parts all the time as groups. Factually, unless all you did were push-ups or pull-ups, it would be difficult to exclude the lower body during a BWE. And, most of one’s muscle mass and metabolic potential resides in the lower half of the body. As an example, running stairs, while seeming to focus on the lower half, requires much work from the upper half to maintain balance and momentum, even though the exercise doesn’t focus on upper body strength in and of itself. The key is to spend equal amounts of work on BWE that focus on both upper and lower body. And, make sure you perform full ranges of motion and multiple angle direction for joint improvement.
Performance is enhanced with body-weight exercises because they naturally help develop your core muscles, which are key in athletic performance and improvement. In fact BWE targets the core and ab muscles far more and better than crunches, planks and individual exercises in the gym, because the core constantly needs to perform to keep the body in balance. In a great many BWE, the back muscles are unsupported, which requires surrounding muscles in both the hips and trunk to ‘fire’ in support of those muscles. This helps align the spine more, prevent it from compressing due to weight loads, and reduces changes of lower back injury while building increased ab strength.
Other examples of this include narrowing your base of support, such as in ballistic or one-arm push-ups that reduce your points of contact with the ground/floor thus, requiring all of your muscles to work together to prevent spinal extension and rotation in what is termed multiple planes of motion.
A real advantage of BWE is that anyone can do it. If you cannot perform a full push-up you can do a half push-up. You can start or stop anytime you like, alter number of sets and reps if you’re not in shape and totally control the workout. As we said earlier, no equipment is required and in fact, the basic movements of BWE are perfect for beginners, young or old, male or female. Like any program, start slow and build up. You can also build muscles since BWE focuses on time and tension. Tension is the amount of muscular force required to perform a given movement. Thus, by selecting movements that are very intense, maximal force is required, which in turn, recruits and activates more muscle fibers that helps build muscle mass. This means pushing yourself with more challenging workouts, not doing the same number sets and reps of the same exercises such as push-ups during each workout.
The Perfect Body?
Almost everyone aspires to look better, but more importantly proportional. The great thing about BWE is that in addition to helping you become very fit, your body will naturally and proportionally sculpt itself with time. The legs and arms will be in an aesthetic proportion to each other because bodies are naturally symmetric. After all, initially, you’ll burn most of the fat away and typically, the fat is what generally makes most of us look out of proportion. So, say hello to the new you. Not only will BWE make you look proportional, they’ll make you smarter. Just kidding, but, BWE will help you concentrate more on what you are doing, which requires more focus and use of the brain to communicate with muscles than say a machine exercise. For example, compare a lat pull-down to a pull-up. The former doesn’t stabilize the muscle or joints in what we term ‘free space’, however, the pull-up, which is a full BWE forces your brain to communicate with your body during the entire exercise, which is recruiting your central nervous system for every second of the movement. This also activates many more muscles than the lat pull-down. You may not be smarter, but you are required to use your brain to communicate with your muscles. Science illustrates this will keep your brain younger for longer.
There are so many kinds of exercise regimens and all have some benefits. You should try BWE because you will likely discover that they are more natural, functional, and athletic. Every exercise you do will prepare you for the long day at work or play and adjust to sitting or standing, by using the legs and body naturally without needing assistance by your arms to rise or sit. Because you will naturally become more athletic, your reaction time will decrease, which can help you catch yourself in a fall, change direction with the body more quickly and is used in a host of other sports from ball sports to climbing, from skiing to shooting, and so many more. In short, you’re not just developing muscles, you’re enhancing your entire neuro-muscular system for better body awareness and more importantly, coordination. Thus, if you want to shoot for peak performance, try body-weight exercises; don’t forget to add good nutrition as well.