Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bodyweight Workouts

As I walk into the gym, I notice people on the cardio equipment, others on the machines and others in the free weight area. It's less often that I notice people doing bodyweight exercises, even in the warm-up/stretching area. Maybe it's because you don't have to go to the gym to do bodyweight exercises, but I still find it interesting. Of course a person's goal should determine how they train and bodyweight workouts aren't always the answer to that, but there is some thought out there that until we master bodyweight exercises, maybe we shouldn't be adding an external load with weights. That makes a lot of sense. Why not be able to crank out a serious number of push-ups anywhere before obsessing over how much you can bench press at the gym? A few benefits to bodyweight workouts are:

  • They can be done anywhere, anytime
  • They require little to no additional equipment
  • It's a great way to master your form before adding external load
  • They can be grouped into circuits for serious fat-burning workouts

Examples of bodyweight exercises are squats, lunges, step-ups, various jumps, push-ups, pull-ups, inverted rows, plank, crunches, bear crawls. The variations are many and the possibilities are endless. If you're short on time, you can't get to the gym, you need some variety, you want to do cardio but can't tolerate another hour on a machine, or you just want a good, solid, fat-burning workout that you can do anytime, anywhere, try a bodyweight circuit workout.

Choose two leg exercises and two upper body exercises and one ab exercise. Determine the order of your exercises, how many reps you will do of each one, how long you will rest between circuits and how long your total workout will be. You will want to alternate your lower and upper body exercises so one is resting while the other is working and put your ab exercise last. You're now ready to get started. Here's an example:

Squat, 8 reps

Pull-up or inverted row, 8 reps

Lunge, 8 reps each leg

Push-up, 8 reps

Side plank, 30 seconds each side

Rest 30 seconds

Repeat circuit as many times as possible for 20 minutes.

You can choose from multiple variations of these basic exercises. All you'd need for this workout is some space and a bar (the swingset in the backyard would suffice). Keep the intensity high but don't compromise your form. If pull-ups or inverted rows are too challenging at first and you have an exercise tube, you can use it by wrapping it around a steady object and using it for standing rows.

Try a bodyweight circuit workout! Make up your own or try Turbulence Training Bodyweight Workouts.

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STBF said...

Kelly, I came upon your blog after reading Krissa's blog. You definitely make sense!

Bodyweight Circuits are fantastic and a great way to hit all muscle groups at one time. Efficiency is the key and isolation of individual muscle groups would only seem nec. for bodybuilder (which 99.99999% of the population isn't).

I usually throw in a BW Circuit (done 3x) on days when I'm not doing resistance training and Intervals.

Later, Mike Z

Kelley Moore said...

Mike, thanks so much for your comment! I totally agree. Love your training plan. It can be brutal but I think the harder I work the more I like it!