As a professional dancer, I trained with only my bodyweight for my entire career. It gave me strength, power, endurance, speed, coordination, balance and exceptional flexibility.
Many don’t realise the benefits of bodyweight training as it utilises such simple movements such as pushing, pulling, squatting, bending, twisting and balancing. Although simple, I believe that bodyweight exercise is possibly the most beneficial, accessible and cheapest form of exercise available.
Today, I’d love to share with you ten reasons why you should incorporate bodyweight exercise into your training:
1 – Bodyweight Exercise Promotes Exceptional Levels of Flexibility
Bodyweight exercise is universally utilised and promoted by dancers, yogis and rhythmic gymnasts because it allows them to maintain extraordinarily toned, lean, and flexible figures.
These athletes only train with their body weight and avoid weighted resistance exercise, because it allows them to maintain toned, pliable muscles and does not promote an increase in muscle mass or reduction in flexibility.
(Before I continue, a quick disclaimer… I am NOT saying that we should never use dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells or cables! I love weighted resistance exercise, and I utilise resistance training for both myself and my clients because it has a multitude of physical benefits. However, if you would like a body that is exceptionally flexible, it is bodyweight exercise that I champion. Let me explain why…)
Weighted resistance exercise, especially hypertrophic training, can cause small tears in the muscle fibres.
You’ve probably felt these tears as muscle soreness (or DOMS) the day after exercise.
As the muscle fibre’s heal, remodel and grow they can also tighten, leading to decreased flexibility.
The reason dancers train with their bodyweight only is that it avoids excessive muscle breakdown, and thus allows them to maintain an exceptional level of flexibility and pliability within their muscles.
2 – Strengthening The Core Muscles
Did you know that your core is made up of more than just your abs?
In fact, it is made up of 29 muscles.
Regularly performed without the aid of a barre, bench, or machine, the lack of physical support during bodyweight workouts will allow you to engage and utilise all twenty-nine core abdominal muscles.
Perfect for giving you the sculpted abs of a Victoria’s Secret model!
3 – Bodyweight Exercise Can Increase Joint Mobility
Completing bodyweight exercises through their full range of motion is an excellent way to improve joint health.
Moreover, exercises that specifically target the core and rhomboids can improve posture, help to give you a flatter stomach, and even alleviate back pain.
4 – Save Time & See Improvements
Bodyweight exercise is perfect for those who are time poor.
Bodyweight workouts can be performed in the comfort of your bedroom, living room, garden or hotel room, so there’s no wasting time travelling to and from the gym with a heavy, sweaty gym bag.
Plus, with so many scalable exercises, there is always room to improve and grow. From the insane crucifix pushups to the half plank, everyone, at any level of fitness, can get involved in bodyweight workouts.
5 – A Great Stress Reliever
Especially beneficial for those with stressful jobs, busy mums, or those working from home; bodyweight workouts can get you out of your head, your heart rate pumping, and maybe even those creative juices flowing.
6 – Get a Tan Whilst Exercising
There’s nothing worse than exercising in a basement gym while the sun is shining bright.
Get some vitamin D and a great workout in at the same time by performing a bodyweight circuit outdoors.
But please remember to drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen – especially crucial for my Aussie friends!
7 – Burn Fat & Tone Simultaneously
Time-precious clients can see results after just a couple of weeks with plyometrics – bodyweight exercises that combine maximum effort with short rests.
Performing quick plyometric exercises such as burpees, between strengthening exercises such as press-ups, will allow you to keep your heart rate up so that you can burn maximum calories, and tone up, within the same workout. #doublewin
8 – Improve Balance & Coordination
As bodyweight exercises do not make use of any external sources of weight, resistance has to be created in other ways.
For example, we can make a regular squat more difficult by changing it into a pistol squat (single leg squat).
Considered ‘functional exercises’ as they utilise the bodies smaller stabilisation muscles, bodyweight exercise can improve both balance and coordination.
Just another reason bodyweight exercise is fantastic for improving athletic performance.
9 – Great For Rehabilitation
Since bodyweight exercises do not make use of free weights, barbells, or Olympic bar’s the chances of injury from poor technique are significantly lower; this makes bodyweight exercise perfect for those who are new to exercise or working through an injury.
10 – Bodyweight Exercise Can Burn Maximal Calories
There are two types of movement: isolation movements and compound movements.
The majority of bodyweight exercises are compound movements. This means that they move multiple joints and multiple muscles at the same time eq. squats, the plank or press-ups.
Whereas resistance exercise also incorporates isolation exercises. These are exercises that only move one joint at a time eg. bicep curls or tricep kickbacks.
As the majority of bodyweight exercises are compound movements, they are extremely efficient at burning maximal calories, improving coordination, and maintaining flexible muscles and joints.
What more could we possibly want!
If you are ready to begin your fitness journey and would like your own, individually tailored, bodyweight exercise programme, please visit my Personal Training page above.
Alternatively, if you have any unanswered questions about bodyweight exercise, please leave a comment below!
If you enjoyed this post, I would love if you could share it via your favourite social media channel. It helps to support my work so I can continue to produce more free content!