Body Weight Training is a form of strength training that doesn't use any form of free or machine weights, simply the weight of your own body. There are many myths and ideas surrounding the use of body weight training, including the idea that it won't build muscle or that the exercises are simply for beginners not ready to progress to free weights.
What is Body Weight Training?
Strengthening movements are performed using the weight of your own body against gravity as resistance. These can include push ups, pull ups, squats and lunges. Generally a limited amount of equipment is needed, and the movements can be adjusted to increase the load.
The exercises are mostly performed in a circuit – timed intervals of each exercise, with a limited break between each. The round of exercises can be repeated after a longer break.
Body Weight Training Pros
The lack of equipment means it is accessible to everyone. There are no expensive gym memberships or the need to buy and store equipment, and it can be done wherever you are. There's no need to travel, eliminating the time constraints that many people have. The exercises can be performed outdoor or indoor, with friends or alone, and so are an extremely versatile form of weight training. In addition, many new mobile apps give information on the different exercises, as well as providing a means to time and record scores.
It can be extremely time efficient. They are based around high output, fast movements, with limited breaks. With no equipment, transitions are fast and efficient. An effective workout can be completed in as little as 15 minutes. The limited rest times also means that the heart rate is boosted. This type of training can combine strength and cardio, as well as burning some serious calories.
It is highly adjustable to different levels of training. You can add repetitions, perform the exercises faster, perfect form and change the intensity of the exercise – for example, two armed to one armed push ups. Core strength and balance are also more positively effected than just weight training alone. Using a greater range of muscles to stabilise the body than weights alone, the movements could be seen as more functional and will improve overall athleticism.
Body Weight Training Cons
There is a limit that the intensity can be increased to, since it only uses the weight of your own body. You can add in equipment such as weighted vests, however you then compromise some of the bare bones appeal of body weight exercises. However, it is difficult to reach a level where you can no longer make the exercises harder, so this may only apply to serious trainers. On the opposite end of the spectrum, for some people there is no way to decrease the intensity to a level that they can perform. For example, extremely overweight individuals may not be able to perform a push up even when the knees are on the ground.
You can isolate muscles using bodyweight training. For the general weight trainer that should not be a problem, however for serious bodybuilders they would not be able to achieve the definition they can with free weights.
Body Weight Training Verdict
This is a useful form of exercise for those times when you cannot get to the gym, or are in need of a change of scenery. Utilising large numbers of muscles, that are also useful for beginners or ectomorphs looking to improve their overall muscle size relatively quickly.