Bodyweight training is not just for a beginner pursuit. Here’s why bodyweight moves should always be part of your workout plan, whatever your training experience.
You’ll improve your body awareness
The advantage full-body moves have over, say, curls is that they improve your proprioception, or your body’s sense of where its parts are positioned. Result? Improved athleticism and better balance – whether you’re on the footy pitch or leaning over a pool table.
“Include unilateral movements in your training,” says trainer Theo Caldwell. “Lunges, pistols and skater squats will all increase the demand on your balance.”
Your core will be worked more
If it’s done right, almost any bodyweight move becomes an abs exercise. That both saves time and teaches you to use your whole body as a single unit.
“Engage your entire body during every movement,” says Caldwell. “Don’t let your hips sag during push-ups or your legs dangle during chin-ups. Consciously brace your abs and make your body into a straight line for each move.”
Injury risks are lowered with bodyweight moves
In the gym, it’s easy to add too much weight, too quickly, increasing injury risk. Bodyweight moves force you to progress smartly.
“Make sure you’re getting at least 10 good reps of, say, the pull-up before you move to tougher variations,” says Caldwell. “That means chest to the bar, pause at the
top, slow on the way down.”
You’ll build more lean muscle mass
To build muscle, you need resistance and time under tension. Bodyweight moves can often do this better and with less risk by allowing your shoulders to move more naturally than, for instance, the traditional pec deck.
For a guaranteed chest-builder that beats endless pec flyes, do three sets of ring push-ups to near-failure, pausing at the top and bottom of each rep. Because the rings move inwards, you’ll get more activation in the muscle, meaning more growth.
You can do it anytime, anywhere
Being able to put in 50 reps at the end of a long day, rather than skipping the gym when life gets busy, could make all the difference between hitting a plateau and building the body you want.
“Have a go-to workout,” says trainer Andrew Tracey. “It could be as simple as 10 sets of five pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats, done as fast as possible. The key is to keep it short enough that there’s no excuse to skip it.”