Many people believe that building muscles or getting a great workout requires expensive gym memberships or pricey home workout equipment. However, this is far from the truth. Bodyweight training, which uses your body as resistance, is a highly effective method for gaining and maintaining muscles – even as we age.
As we get older, our bodies start to lose muscle mass and strength. By the time we reach our 30s, we begin losing muscle gradually as part of the natural aging process. However, with a sedentary lifestyle and poor nutritional choices, the rate of muscle loss can accelerate. On average, the human body loses 3% to 5% of muscle mass each decade unless we take steps to prevent it. With daily movement, weekly strength training, and a healthy diet, gaining and maintaining muscles becomes much easier.
Bodyweight training is an essential part of a fitness plan. It improves muscle imbalances, works the whole body, and lays down an excellent foundation for future weighted programming. Additionally, it helps improve strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, and coordination. It instills confidence, saves time and money, and it’s free. Bodyweight training can be performed anywhere, making it an easy and accessible fitness routine.
It’s natural to wonder if getting a good workout with just your body weight is possible. The answer is yes! After an intense workout, muscle fibers break down and need to repair – this is what builds muscles. The muscles will strengthen and grow during the repair process. However, for the body to undergo the repair and growth process, it needs to be pushed outside of its comfort zone. External resistance such as free weights, barbells, or bands will speed up this process and is a great addition to any strength program, but it’s doable with just your body weight.
As you progress with bodyweight training, it’s essential to continue changing your training variables such as sets, reps, intensity, and time under tension. When you can master your technique, you’ll want to move on to mix high-intensity exercises with exercises performed slowly, focusing on engaging the muscle during the contraction phase.
There are seven basic movements the body can perform: pushing, pulling, hinging, squatting, twisting, skipping, and jumping. With these seven movements, there are many different variations that you can use for each body part. Bodyweight workouts work all the muscles in the body, including the heart, as it elevates your endurance.
When designing a bodyweight workout program, use the simple format below. Regardless of your current life situation, this routine can be applied to fit your needs, whether you have 10 minutes or an hour to dedicate to your workout.
First, select an exercise from each category, starting with a movement that works numerous muscles at once like push-ups and squats. Then move on to exercises that work smaller muscles like dips for the triceps. Keep your muscles guessing by using a variety of different exercises.
Best Beginner Total Body Workout:
1. Plank Push-Ups – 2×10-15 repetitions
– Begin on your elbows on an elevated surface such as your kitchen counter or the dining table.
– Step your feet back and together so you are supporting your body weight on your elbows.
– Maintain a straight line from the top of your head to your toes.
– Brace your core by pulling your stomach muscles towards the back of the body and begin to retract your shoulder blades.
– Push the counter away with your core and elbows and come back to the starting position.
2. Push-Ups – 2×10-15 repetitions
– Place your hands shoulder-width apart on an elevated surface such as your kitchen counter or the dining table.
– Step your feet back and together so you are supporting your body weight on your hands and maintain a straight line from the top of your head to your toes.
– Brace your core by pulling your stomach muscles in towards the back of the body.
– Begin to bend your elbows and lower your chest towards the counter, then straighten your arms and push back up to the starting position.
3. Step-Out Squat – 2×10-15 repetitions
– Begin standing with your feet together.
– Step out to the right and lower your hips back behind you while pushing through the heels. Keep the knees behind the toes.
– Stand up and step together, tucking the tailbone under and squeezing the butt at the top.
– Repeat on the left.
4. Stationary Lunge – 2×10-15 repetitions
– Step out about hip bone/hip distance.
– Step the right foot back and stagger your stance about the same distance as the length of your leg.
– Keep the back heel off the ground.
– Begin to bend into both legs, lowering your body towards the floor.
– Be sure to place more of your body weight through your front heel and keep the front knee behind the toe.
5. Hip Bridge – 2×10-15 repetitions
– Lie on your back, either on the floor or couch.
– Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor.
– Press through the feet, squeeze your butt and press the hips to the sky.
– Lower down 1/2 way and then repeat.
6. Isometric Knee Press – 2×10-15 repetitions
– Lie on your back.
– Level 1: Single-Leg Knee Press – bring one leg up into a tabletop position.
– Press your hands into your leg as your leg presses back into your hands.
– Be sure to maintain your lower back on the ground and avoid arching.
– Repeat on the other side.
7. Cross Over Crunches – 2×10-15 repetitions
– Lie on your back.
– Bring elbows in tight to your temples.
– As you bring your left elbow to your right knee, exhale and bring your left shoulder blade off the ground.
– Repeat on the other side.
In conclusion, bodyweight training is an effective method to gain muscle, burn fat, and maintain a healthy body. It is accessible, free, and requires no equipment, making it a great option for anyone regardless of their age or fitness level. With proper technique and progressive programming, bodyweight training can produce the same results as lifting weights or using gym equipment. Give it a try, and you won’t be disappointed!