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Bodyweight Training: Benefits and Exercises

bodyweight resistance training

Whether you’re new to working out or looking to switch up your exercise routine, bodyweight training can be an excellent tool to help you achieve your fitness goals.

It’s a great way to challenge yourself and try something your body may not be used to.

Plus, there are numerous benefits from:

  • Convenience; to 
  • Low-cost; to
  • Your ability to customize based on your goals and fitness level.

By the end of this guide, you’ll know:

  • The difference between bodyweight training and weight training
  • A few bodyweight exercises to try today
  • Some of the benefits of incorporating bodyweight training into your exercise routine


What Is a Bodyweight Workout?

Bodyweight exercises are a type of strength-training where you use your own weight to provide resistance against gravity.

When you complete a bodyweight workout, you are essentially using your body alone without any other exercise equipment.

In fact, chances are you’ve almost certainly completed some common bodyweight exercises before as they’re often included in other workout programs.

A few well-known bodyweight exercises include:

  • Bodyweight squats
  • Walking lunges
  • Pushups
  • Planks 
  • Jumping jacks

Alternating the number of circuits and reps along with your workout duration can either make your bodyweight workout easier or more challenging.

what is a bodyweight workout

5 Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises

One of the biggest benefits of bodyweight training is its convenience — meaning you can do a bodyweight workout from almost anywhere.

Because your only equipment is your body, you can complete an effective workout from places like:

  • Your hotel room
  • Your backyard 
  • The airport 
  • The park 
  • Your living room

Bodyweight workouts are a close comparison to interval training — meaning you’ll alternate bursts of intense activity with periods of no- or low-intensity activity.

One of the most important benefits of bodyweight exercise is its ability to improve your cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength all at once.

You get a cardio workout from changing positions and elevating your heart rate, while your bodyweight and gravity work together to help you build muscle.

It’s okay if you’re still wondering, “Why is bodyweight training good for me?”

Keep reading to get a deeper look into the benefits of bodyweight exercises.

Benefit #1: Works the Full Body

Think of a few typical bodyweight exercises:

  • Squats
  • Mountain climbers
  • Jumping jacks
  • Planks
  • Push-ups

All of these are considered full-body exercises because you’re engaging your entire body (arms, core, glutes, lets) to complete them.

Whether you’re using your core or lower half to stabilize, like in a push-up, or are actively engaging your arms, legs, and core, such as in a mountain climber, multiple muscle groups work in conjunction to complete the exercise.

Benefit #2: Builds Balance and Flexibility

When you’re performing a bodyweight exercise, your body is working to stabilize itself.

This strengthens the muscles and stretches the ligaments and tendons that help you stay balanced while doing everyday activities like walking or picking things up around the house, but also when you’re running or performing other workout movements.

Training your body this way can especially help in preventing injury.

Benefit #3: Gives You Freedom

This particular benefit goes hand-in-hand with convenience.

Have some time to kill while you watch your kids play at the park? Bust out some squats or incline push-ups on the park bench. Or, give some tricep dips a go.

Tired after a long day of travel but know that just a 20-minute workout will help you sleep better? You can knock out a quick workout from the comfort of your hotel room.

Bodyweight training gives you the freedom to workout on your own time without sacrificing quality.

You can burn calories and build muscle without the hassle of equipment or a gym.

Benefit #4: Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

Doing the same type of workout day after day doesn’t just get boring — it can also plateau your workout results.

By switching up the types of workouts you do and the kind of exercises, you’ll challenge your body much more.

Think of new and exciting bodyweight workouts to try, like:

  • Rock climbing
  • Yoga 
  • Bodyweight bootcamp — combining cardio and bodyweight movements

Benefit #5: Works for all Fitness Levels

Another answer to the question, “Why is bodyweight training good for you?” would be its ability to be customized.

New to fitness? Try a bodyweight workout.

Do you already do a cardio workout a few times a week but want to focus on toning? Add in a bodyweight workout twice a week.

You can also adjust how many reps you do and modify many exercises based on your fitness level.

Additional Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises

A few other benefits of bodyweight training are due to the fact that it is:

  • Inexpensive — Since there is no equipment involved, you don’t need to pay for weights or gym time.
  • Efficient — Because you’re working without equipment, you’re able to transition from one move to another very efficiently, allowing your heart rate to maintain its elevated level. This allows your body to stay in a calorie- burning state. 
  • Customizable for all fitness levels — Bodyweight exercises often have many different modifications available to fit your fitness level. For example: Modifications for a push-up vary from kneeling push-ups all the way to clap or handstand push-ups.
  • Works the whole body — Many bodyweight exercises are considered compound movements, meaning they engage multiple joints and work more than one muscle group at a time. Compound exercises build the basic strength that is needed to perform everyday pushing, pulling, and lifting activities. 
  • Builds both balance and flexibility 
  • Offers strength training and cardio elements

bodyweight resistance training

Bodyweight Training vs Weight Training: Is One Better?

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Bodyweight exercises are just as effective a form of strength training as workouts that involve free weights or weight machines.”

But to differentiate between which one is better, the answer would be, that depends.

The important thing to note is that the correct answer for you will depend on your ultimate goal.

If you’re recovering from an injury or are new to fitness, chances are a beginner bodyweight workout is going to be the best outlet to meet you where you are in your fitness journey.

If you’re aiming for muscle gain, on the other hand, bodyweight training may not be the best fit because you can’t load any of your moves to make them more challenging.

Bodyweight training also has benefits like enhancing your:

  • Balance
  • Agility 
  • Flexibility

But using equipment allows you to track your progress and increase the load to maximize your results.

Carving out your fitness milestones and your ultimate goal will help point you to which program is best.

Our trainers at In Motion O.C. can tailor a fitness program to help you achieve your goals and will work to:

  1. Help you look and feel better.
  2. Improve posture, balance, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, and function.
  3. Prevent reoccurrence of any pain or injury.

benefits of bodyweight exercises

3 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do at Home

You don’t need equipment for any of these exercises, so give them a go wherever you have the space — at home, on the road, or outside.

Read on for three bodyweight exercises you can knock out almost anywhere.

Home Bodyweight Exercise #1: Yoga

Yoga is a great form of bodyweight training, although it’s typically not the first thing on people’s minds when they think of bodyweight workouts.

It is, however, a great way to:

  • Build strength
  • Improve flexibility; and
  • Increase your body awareness.

Yoga can work as a great supplement to traditional strength training, too.

In your yoga practice, you use both large and small muscles and move in many directions, not just back and forth on a one-dimensional plane (think of the forward-back motion of a bicep curl).

Sun salutation is often used as a warm-up in yoga but it can also be a good warm-up or cool down for any type of workout.

The sun salutation strings several fundamental poses together in a smooth-flowing sequence designed to ease your body into your practice.

You’ll typically move through a series of basic poses in sun salutation, including:

  1. Mountain pose
  2. Forward fold
  3. Half monkey
  4. Downward dog
  5. Plank
  6. Chaturanga 
  7. Upward dog (or cobra pose)

What Are the Benefits of This Bodyweight Exercise?

According to an article written by Kelly Turner, an ACE certified personal trainer, for Gaiam, practicing yoga is a balanced way to do bodyweight strength training for a number of reasons:

  1. A regular yoga practice can reduce your risk of injury and condition your body to perform better at things you have to do every day: walk, sit, twist, bend, and lift groceries. 
  2. Yoga tones muscles all over your body, in balance with each other. Weight training exercises typically isolate and flex one muscle or muscle group at a time.
  3. Yoga relies on eccentric contraction, where the muscle stretches as it contracts, giving the muscles that sleek, elongated look while increasing flexibility in the muscles and joints. 
  4. Yoga increases muscle endurance because you typically hold any given pose for a period of time and repeat it several times during a yoga workout.

bodyweight training

Home Bodyweight Exercise #2: Squats

Squats are a tried and true bodyweight exercise and can truly be modified to fit any fitness level.

There many variations of squats that you can try as you progress, including:

  • Single-leg squats
  • Squat pulse
  • Pistol squats
  • Chair squat
  • Sumo squat
  • Curtsy squat

To perform a basic bodyweight squat:

  1. Stand with your hands on the back of your head and your feet shoulder-width apart with your feet turned out slightly to open the hip joint.
  2. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. 
  3. Pause, then return to the starting position.

What Are the Benefits of This Bodyweight Exercise?

Squats work to build strength in your…

  • Quads 
  • Glutes; and
  • Hamstrings

…while quietly working your core.

Squats are a compound exercise, meaning they work multiple muscle groups, so you’re getting a full body workout with this one move.

Plus, you may boost your performance in other exercises or cardio workouts with the extra lower-body strength from squats.

Home Bodyweight Exercise #3: Push-ups

Push-ups are a classic bodyweight exercise — and for good reason. According to Muscle & Performance, push-ups are considered the ultimate bodyweight exercise.

Give it a go by following the steps below:

  1. Regardless of your starting position, you must be in a plank position to correctly perform this exercise. That means the hips are held high and there’s a straight line from head to heel.
  2. Tuck your chin so your eyes are focused downward. This works to help you maintain spinal alignment. Looking up can cause neck strain and an overarch in the lower spine.
  3. Depending on your hand position and shoulder stability, your body should lower to touch the ground or come within an inch or two away from it. Remember — your chest should be what makes it to the ground first, not your face and not your legs.
  4. Don’t forget those glutes! Squeezing your tush will help you avoid overarching your lower back and help you engage your abs.

What Are the Benefits of This Bodyweight Exercise?

This movement gives you the chance to work your:

  • Shoulders
  • Arms; and 
  • Chest

An added bonus? You’ll also work your…

  • Core
  • Hips; and 
  • Glutes

…as you stabilize.

Now that is full body engagement.

benefits of bodyweight exercises

Why You Still May Need a Personal Trainer

You may see the phrase “bodyweight exercise” and make the mistake of thinking they’re easy.

Plus, you could be potentially putting yourself at risk for injury because you aren’t performing new exercises correctly.

Attempting a full bodyweight workout on your own could still feel daunting and overwhelming.

Having a personal trainer by your side to help build your program and make sure you’re completing those bodyweight exercises safely and effectively could help you achieve your goal that much quicker.

How In Motion O.C. Can Help You Take Your Bodyweight Workouts to the Next Level

Here at In Motion O.C., our fitness coaches will meet you where you are in your fitness journey and work with you to build a complete bodyweight training plan specifically tailored to you and your fitness goals.

We will work to help you look and feel your best and help you produce the fitness results you’re after.

Let us help you reach your goals. Contact us to schedule your free consultation.

In Motion O.C.