What are the benefits of bodyweight exercise?
Why do I tout the “5-Minute Sweaty”?
It might seem odd to see so many posts about “bodyweight exercise” from someone who admittedly plans her days to ensure spending quality time with the iron.
Let me clarify:
I love to lift. I think it’s fun, progress is easily tracked, and I like the look of muscle.
However, I don’t believe that heavy weight-lifting sessions are imperative to general fitness. (I do recommend at least some heavy weight-training because of the massive benefits which I can address in another post.)
I also believe that fitness is best achieved through balance and variety. I personally program all manner of exercise for myself.
I lift heavy, I lift moderate, I lift light.
I do yoga. I do Pilates.
I walk, run, and cycle.
I swing kettlebells. I do bodyweight circuits.
Sometimes I try dancing and swimming, too. [I am not proficient in either. It’s ugly.]
All of this to say…
Just because I do it doesn’t mean I think you need to do it.
But I *DO* think you *NEED* to do bodyweight exercises.
And here’s why:
- Bodyweight exercises are not only the best place for beginners to start; they are the only place. Bodyweight exercises develop efficient movement patterns. Beginners absolutely must practice the basic human movements, developing automaticity, before adding complication. (To summarize, there is absolutely no reason to add weight to a squat if the bodyweight squat had not yet been fully mastered.)
- Bodyweight exercises are convenient. Do you have a body? Great. No excuses. Snarkiness aside, nothing beats nothing when it comes to equipment needed to complete a workout. You don’t need to fiddle and fart around, planning, driving, loading, unloading, and a million other little things. You just do it.
- Relatedly, bodyweight exercises lend themselves perfectly to busy lifestyles. You can squeeze them in as “bursted workouts” for quick metabolic boosts throughout your day. Five-minutes here, five minutes there…
- Bodyweight exercises carry low risk. Sure, you can hurt yourself doing anything–I think I get hurt most often by my husband stepping on or otherwise colliding with my toes–but basic bodyweight movements don’t go awry very often. They are pretty forgiving as you are developing your form, so you can iron-out any issues prior to loading your movements.
- Bodyweight exercises are nearly infinitely adaptable. (I actually just debated including the word “nearly,” as I am 99% sure they are finitely infinite.) Use a wall, use stairs, move slowly, then move freely, more speedily, then add jumping, then take away a leg or an arm, etc. You truly can’t be too advanced of an athlete to benefit from bodyweight exercises.
- Bodyweight exercises help to develop the most important aspect of physical health: experiencing your body in space and knowing how to control it. What could possibly be more useful than being acutely aware of your body’s strength and limitations?
This list is getting long. I could keep going. I WILL keep going. Join me for Part 2 later this week, will you?
For now, I will leave you with this Beginner’s Bodyweight Workout!
Watch this video for demonstrations, as needed:
20s marching (regular, alternating)
10s unilateral marching R
10s uniltateral marching L
20s marching (regular, alternating)
*10s reverse lunge R
10s reverse lunge L
30s marching (regular, alternating)
*Read this is as “10 seconds reverse lunge, right leg only”
Run through that sequence once at 3 different times throughout your day today, and let me know how it goes!
Note: “Grease the groove,” so to speak. If you are a total beginner, try to keep working steadily for the allotted time, ignoring speed and reps. Just practice. Perhaps face a mirror to ensure quality of your movement. As you get more advanced, increase time, increase speed, add pauses and pulses, etc.
Questions? Experiences? Leave a comment!