Bodyweight Training

June 6, 2016 | By Shannan Ponton

Getting fit doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, one of the best methods of exercise you can do to get fit doesn’t require any equipment at all. I’m talking about bodyweight training.

There are so many benefits to bodyweight training. As with using machines, bodyweight exercises build muscle and lead to increased strength, cardiovascular health and weight loss. If you walk into your local gym and all of your favourite machines are in use, instead of waiting around or coming back later you can start your bodyweight training session straight away. Bodyweight training has the added benefit of convenience since it can be completed anytime, anywhere. So head over to a spare corner of your local Anytime Fitness and get your body moving naturally!

You can do a good combination of cardio and strength training or focus on movements which increase your flexibility and functionality within your training. It’s really is up to you how you structure your workouts. The possibilities and versatility of your training is endless.

Here are some of my top bodyweight exercises you can try today:

  1. Push up. This is an all-time classic bodyweight move. When done properly, push ups help sculpt your shoulders, chest and forearms. The great thing about push ups is that they can be varied to focus on different areas. A classic push up can be completed by keeping your body in a straight plane, with your shoulders back and stable. Hands are then placed below the plane of your shoulders, slightly wider than shoulder width (vary your hand position to target different muscles, wide, narrow, diamond) Make sure to keep a natural curve in your spine, brace your core and don’t allow your hips to ‘sag’. One to try: the Superman push up. Assume the regular push up position, however on your way up, raise your opposite arm and leg, maintaining a straight line with your body. Hold this for a count to 3, put your arm and leg back down to the starting position then slowly lower your body to finish off the push up.
  2. Squats. Squats work your butt, quads and hamstrings and help your balance, co-ordination and proprioception. The best way to squat is to sit onto a chair and then stand up. BANG! Perfect squat technique. Then move the chair away and repeat identically. Ensure your knees follow the same direction that your toes are pointing. Vary foot width to target different muscles. There are so many progressions for the squat. You can try jumping squats, single leg squats or squats into a leap to increase the intensity and get your heart pumping.
  3. Tricep dips. Burn those wings! A successful tricep dip can be completed by positioning your hands shoulder width apart when sitting on a bench or chair (whichever you use, make sure it’s stable!) then slide your behind off the bench with your legs extended in front of you. For beginners keep your knees bent at 90 degrees. The stronger you become the straighter your legs should be. You then slowly lower your body until your shoulder joints are slightly lower than your elbows. Push back up until your arms are nearly straight (but not locked!) For this exercise, it’s important to ensure that you keep the pressure onto your tricep muscles and not your elbow joint.
  4. Plank. Work your entire core using the plank. In this exercise, you need to brace your abdominal and lumbar muscles to stabilize your body in a plank position. Maintain the natural curve of your spine and pull your belly button in, towards the spine. Beginners start on your knees. Once you’ve mastered the standard plank, you can try a variation where you alternate lifting your left and right leg out to the side, keeping your foot slightly off the floor as you do so.
  5. Cardio. Cardio is important to vary your bodyweight exercises and increase your cardiovascular intensity. There are so many options which require very little space to complete. Depending on how much room you have, you can do shuttle runs or bear crawls (bonus: bear crawls also work your entire core!) If space is limited, throw in some star jumps or knee highs on the spot, burpees, punch outs, step ups, bench jumps.

Structure your workout by repetitions or by interval times.

Repetition: 5 sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise or as a circuit: 10 reps of each exercise done consecutively and repeat for 3-5 rounds.

Time Interval: Perform each exercise for 20 sec followed by 10 sec rest, repeat 4 times then move to next exercise and repeat.

As with any new exercise regime, it’s best to make sure you’ve got medical clearance to start your training. If you’re unsure of how to do any of the exercises above, speak to the friendly staff or personal trainers at your local Anytime Fitness club.