What are Body Weight exercises?
Body Weight exercises, also known as Calisthenics, are a series of movements that leverage your body weight in order to stretch, exercise and build muscle.
I started lifting weights about 3 years ago but quickly found myself unsatisfied with the gym. I hated the musty scent, the sterile like environment, and the recurring membership costs. As my disdain for the gym grew, so did my interest in alternatives.
This led me to discover body weight exercises and I haven’t looked back since. There are many benefits of body weight exercises compared to traditional weight lifting.
Check out my list below!
1. Body weight exercises will reduce your chance of injury
Whether it’s your fellow gym goer dropping a weight on your foot or pushing your limits just a little too far (w/ of course, proper form). There are many ways to be injured during a traditional weight lifting workout.
Yes, these risks can be minimized, but you are still much more likely to injure yourself lifting weights.
2. Strengthen your core
Most traditional weight lifting routines skimp on core exercises, but body weight exercises provide a great and challenging core workout. Having a strong core will reduce injuries, improve your posture, and promote a healthy back.
You can build an amazing set of abs all without lifting a single weight. My favorite core exercises are planks (and their variations), L-sits, and leg lifts.
3. Save money
Body weight exercises can be performed with zero equipment. The only thing required to successfully and effectively perform body weight exercises is yourself and some motivation!
Although you can buy equipment to increase the intensity of body weight workouts, most beginners will be just fine without equipment. For intermediate users, I would recommend resistance bands and a multi-use pull up bar. For advanced users, I would add rings and wearable weights to the mix.
The costs of buying this equipment will add up over time but it will be nowhere near as expensive as a few months at the gym.
4. Exercise anywhere
The best thing about a body weight workout routine is that it can be done almost anywhere. My favorite place to exercise is at one of the local calisthenic parks (yes, there are dedicated calisthenic parks). A calisthenic park will usually have a set of parallel bars, a high and low bar, and a few other pieces of basic equipment.
Check out this link to find your nearest calisthenic park. If this is too much work for you, you can get out of your seat right now and perform body weight exercises!
Do 5 push-ups, attempt a handstand (okay, maybe not a handstand yet!), or do a set of jumping jacks. The world is your gym!
5. Challenge yourself
If you’re coming from a traditional gym background you may be questioning the intensity/ difficulty of body weight exercises. Let me assure you, body weight exercises can be very challenging and will work out an entirely different set of muscles than a traditional workout.
How many pull-ups can you actually do? And what variations of pull-ups can you do? Struggling to perform basic bodyweight exercises will be very frustrating when you’re used to performing several reps with much heavier weights. Body weight exercises are a great workout and a mental challenge.
6. Ultimate flexibility
Body weight exercises engage a much wider set of muscles than traditional workouts do. You’re performing complex dynamic movements and demanding full performance from all kinds of muscle groups and flexor muscles.
Dynamic movements help to strengthen and stretch many tight muscles that you may not normally use. This increases flexibility and forces new sets of muscle groups and tendons to work together in a new and stimulating way.
7. Gain useful muscle
Have you ever seen people at the gym getting so “jacked” that they could barely put their arms by their sides? What is the point of strength training if you are going to decrease your mobility and athleticism?
Body weight exercises will provide you with a lean agile build, and set you on the path to dominating in a wide range of physical activities. From volleyball, to rock climbing and snowboarding, body weight exercises will prepare you for anything life can throw at you.
You will also be able to perform cool tricks such as a flag pole, hand-stand, or one-armed push-up!
If you want to get serious about fitness I highly suggest starting with a body weight routine. There are many proven benefits of body weight fitness programs and no initial costs or recurring membership fees. Body weight exercises can be performed anywhere, will provide you with increased flexibility, and will lower your chances of injury.
Give it a fair shot and I think you’ll be surprised!