Bodyweight Training: What Is It and What Are Its Benefits?
Bodyweight training routines have gained popularity, as there are many testimonials about their benefits. This type of training, which proposes that you use your own body weight instead of machines, is ideal for those who want to get in shape from anywhere.
Contrary to what many people think, it’s not strictly necessary to use gym tools to develop muscular endurance and strengthen the body. With the proper application of some postures, you can improve your figure and your physical condition without leaving the comfort of your own home.
What is bodyweight training?
You may not have heard of bodyweight training, but you may have heard of calisthenics. Well, this type of training consists of just that: doing a routine with exercises in which the body works against gravity, so that the body’s own weight is the tool to strengthen muscles.
In short, there’s no need for gym equipment, weights, or special equipment. The body (and perhaps a mat or a pair of bars) is enough to work the different muscle groups. It’s even an effective way to increase muscle strength and firmness.
Also read: Muscle Pain and Tension Due to Stress
Benefits of bodyweight training
The popularity of bodyweight training doesn’t just come from its followers. There’s scientific evidence, such as a study reported in Current Sports Medicine Reports, that supports its multiple health and aesthetic benefits. Here’s what it’s all about.
Increases physical endurance
One of the main benefits of bodyweight training is that it allows you to increase your endurance. Since it involves a wider variety of movements, the body is forced to work several muscle groups at the same time.
In addition, these routines often combine cardio and strength exercises, which allows for a healthy weight and improved fitness.
Strengthens and increases muscle mass
A widely held belief among many people is that you need weights and other tools to be able to work your body in order to gain muscle mass. However, training with one’s own weight is also effective in building muscle, even in less time.
Often, this training consists of so-called closed kinetic chain (CKC) exercises, which are characterized by more compound movements. In these, one of the limbs (either the hand or the foot) is fixed on a firm surface and cannot move.
Therefore, the body involves more muscle groups and joints simultaneously, which allows its strengthening. In turn, as stated in an article published in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science, it improves joint stability and increases muscle strength.
Contributes to weight loss
The combination of cardio and strength training is ideal for those looking to lose weight. In this sense, bodyweight training turns out to be a great option, since the routines are made up of both these types of training.
In addition, since it strengthens and increases muscle mass, it boosts metabolism and helps increase energy expenditure.
Promotes general well-being
Like other forms of physical exercise, bodyweight training contributes to improving overall health. Its regular practice reduces the risk of chronic diseases, such as those associated with metabolic syndrome (diabetes, obesity and heart disease).
It also improves self-esteem, reduces anxiety and stress, as well as other mental health conditions. A publication in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine supports these benefits and adds that it also prevents sleep disorders and fatigue.
Decreases the risk of injury
Other sports disciplines and workouts are often complemented with body exercises. Why? These types of routines help to increase the stability of the torso, due to the abdominal and lumbar work.
They’re also ideal for increasing flexibility and coordination. Together, these elements are key in order to avoid possible injuries.
You can train anywhere
Of course, one big advantage of bodyweight training is that you don’t need special equipment to do it. Nor is it necessary to go to a gym or a specific place. It can be done at home, in parks or in places of your choice.
And, while it’s important to plan the routine in advance and set goals, the schedule is flexible and can work along with your scheduled free time. Some forms of bodyweight training are as follows:
- Tabata training
- HIIT training
Suitable for everyone
Training with your own weight is the starting point for many exercise routines. There are several variations and, therefore, it’s ideal for beginners and athletes at advanced levels.
The important thing is to apply a good technique for each exercise in order to obtain results and prevent injuries. If in doubt, we suggest you ask a professional trainer.
As a general rule, sedentary people should start with gentle, low-impact routines while increasing their physical fitness. Then they can gradually increase resistance, until they complete more complex workouts.
Also read: 3 Exercises to Strengthen Your Hip Flexors
Bodyweight training: how to get started
All you need is your body and a lot of willpower to start bodyweight training. Currently, there are routines available in beginner, intermediate or advanced mode.
You can find them on mobile fitness apps, YouTube or online sites. Some recommended exercises are as follows:
- Plank or plank exercises
- Bridge or glute bridges
Remember to look for a space where you can train in total comfort. On the other hand, make sure you wear appropriate clothing and stay hydrated.
If you have any illness or injury, consult your doctor before starting any training plan. Lastly, keep in mind that you can achieve your goals with time and perseverance. Don’t give up!
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Kotarsky CJ, Christensen BK, Miller JS, Hackney KJ. Effect of Progressive Calisthenic Push-up Training on Muscle Strength and Thickness. J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Mar;32(3):651-659. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002345. PMID: 29466268.
Westcott WL. Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2012 Jul-Aug;11(4):209-16. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31825dabb8. PMID: 22777332.
- Kwon YJ, Park SJ, Jefferson J, Kim K. The effect of open and closed kinetic chain exercises on dynamic balance ability of normal healthy adults. J Phys Ther Sci. 2013;25(6):671-674. doi:10.1589/jpts.25.671
- McPherron AC, Guo T, Bond ND, Gavrilova O. Increasing muscle mass to improve metabolism. Adipocyte. 2013;2(2):92-98. doi:10.4161/adip.22500
Ruegsegger GN, Booth FW. Health Benefits of Exercise. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2018 Jul 2;8(7):a029694. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a029694. PMID: 28507196; PMCID: PMC6027933.
- O’Connor PJ, Herring MP, Caravalho A. Mental Health Benefits of Strength Training in Adults. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 2010;4(5):377-396. doi:10.1177/1559827610368771