Personally I love the gym.. but there are times where I don’t have access to one, or I just feel like mixing it up at home, on the beach or in the park.

You might have heard the term “bodyweight exercises”. So what are they and how do they fit into an exercises regime.

Bodyweight exercises refer to strength-training exercises where you do not need to use weights, but instead rely on your own weight to provide that resistance to movement.

Examples of bodyweight exercises, that you may be able to relate to, include push-ups and chin-ups.

Other ones that you may be less familiar with include lunges, wall sitting, burpees, or plank positions.

In fact, many great core/abdominal exercises (ex. such as the plank position) involve the use of bodyweight exercises, with or without equipment (Swiss ball, dumbbells).

bodyweight exercises plank

What are the advantages of doing bodyweight exercises?

There is no need for a gym. If you travel frequently, do not have access to a gym, or cannot afford to go to one, then you can do your bodyweight exercises all at home or in your hotel room.
There is still the flexibility to add weights and kettle-bells to challenge you even more.
You can increase your endurance, as well as your body’s balance, flexibility, and coordination for activities.

How do you include bodyweight exercises into your exercise routine?

There are many people who primarily focus on using weights for the majority of their strength training and fat loss. These people may choose to complement their weight lifting with bodyweight exercises when they are at the gym. For example, the core abdominal exercises implement bodyweight techniques. Others may choose just to do bodyweight exercises when they are unable to go to the gym.

There are others, however, who choose to focus the majority of their strength training by doing bodyweight exercises. In particular, many are proponents of bodyweight circuit training.

Why do bodyweight circuit training?

You are working out multiple muscle groups at the same time. This means better use of your time!
You are getting a cardiovascular workout.
You will be burning more calories than if you were just doing cardiovascular exercise alone.

Can beginners do bodyweight training?

Absolutely! Anyone can incorporate it into his/her training.

If you primarily want to focus on bodyweight training, start by doing it three times per week, but make sure you are resting between days in order that you give your muscles time to recover and repair themselves.

A complete bodyweight circuit of training could include:

  • 10 body squats – As a beginner, you may prefer to put your arms straight out in front of you, before attempting this exercise with your hands behind your head. As you advance, you could also do the squats with your arms held straight above your head. You could also add jumping squats for more of a challenge.
  • 15 seconds in the plank position
  • 10 lunges –   Add weight only when you are ready to challenge yourself.
  • 10 push ups – You can later make push-ups more challenging by doing push-up rows, which involve the use of dumbbells.
  • 20 jumping jacks

Complete one circuit of all of these exercises using good form, and then try to complete two more. As you progress, you can add more challenge by learning variations of the above exercises. For example, instead of doing just the plank position, do the side plank position, or incorporate the use of a Swiss ball. You can challenge yourself to hold the plank position longer and longer.

bodyweight exercises squats

You can also add weights and more repetitions to other bodyweight exercises.

Other bodyweight exercises to consider include wall sitting, mountain climbers, and bench dips, for example.

In summary, bodyweight exercises can be the focus, or you can use them to complement your weight training regimen.