A group of women doing yoga. Photo by Bruce Mars for Unsplash.

Ah, 2020. The start of a new year, the beginning of a decade, the end of a workout routine — wait, what? Yes, that’s right. Put away your kettle-bells and free weights and Bosu balls. You won’t be needing any equipment to get in a great workout, thanks to one of the latest and greatest trends in the fitness-sphere.

In this article, we’ll discuss bodyweight training. We’ll introduce the basic benefits before elaborating on why it’s soon to catch on as one of the hottest trends this year — and perhaps for the rest of this novel decade, too.

What is bodyweight training?

Just as the name suggests, bodyweight training is a kind of exercise training that uses the resistance of one’s own bodyweight to improve strength, agility, endurance, and flexibility. Essentially, it eliminates the need for equipment in your workouts and allows you to get in a great sweat session without spending a dollar on a glorified gym membership.

What are some common bodyweight training routines?

The great thing about weight-training and resistance-training workouts is that they can be modified and tailored to target virtually any part of the body, or the body as a whole if you’re going for a full-muscle challenge.

For the legs and glutes, bodyweight training might consist of squats and their variations, from narrow-stance to sumo to one-legged (if you’re strong enough to do it!). You can also work hamstrings by doing lying leg curls on the floor, then directly target your gluteus maximus with single-leg donkey kicks. And as a final burnout set, don’t forget to do those calf raises!

The upper body should not be neglected either. One of the best exercises you can do for your pectoral and shoulder muscles are push-ups. To better target and challenge your triceps, try a triangle push-up, a twist on the original exercise that requires you to place your hands in a three-pointed shape on the ground rather than directly under your deltoids.

Pull-ups (these can be made easier with a simple elastic resistance band, or by asking a friend to hold your feet!) are an excellent movement for building strength in the back muscles (latissimus dorsi) and biceps. Keep in mind that some kind of bar is necessary to complete this exercise; however, it really is a perfect example of bodyweight exercise, because that is all you’re lifting anyway!

Lastly, don’t forget to hit those core muscles. Collectively referred to as your rectus abdominis, the central abdomen is comprised of the nugget-shaped muscles that “pop” in a six-pack. To work this area of your body, a simple plank, held for 30 to 60 seconds for several sets should do the trick. If you’re not fatigued after that, you can target your lower abdomen with lying leg raises. Do enough of those and you’ll start to notice a nice “V” of definition pointing down between your hips. To get a lean cut of strong muscle in the sides of your abdomen, along the lateral exterior of your rectus abdominis, you’ll need to work your obliques. These can be worked with Russian twists, side planks, and oblique-angled crunches.

Why should I try bodyweight training?

Now that you know what bodyweight training is and have an idea of some of the foundational exercises, you’re probably clinging to that last little bit of hesitancy, asking: “Okay, but what’s actually in it for me if I try this?”

As you probably well know, exercise in all its forms is good for the body. But the great thing about bodyweight exercise is that, unlike other types of equipment-centric workout, there’s no upfront investment. You don’t need to spend a ton of money on a gym membership, a barbell, a yoga instructor, or even fancy athletic apparel. In the comfort of your own home, you can have a great workout.

Furthermore, bodyweight training has been shown to be more effective than cardio in eliminating excess poundage. Although cardio and other forms of exercise certainly can be a successful part of a workout program, bodyweight is a much more time-efficient way to burn the same number of calories than lengthy, steady-state cardio sessions. Plus, the resistance that accompanies bodyweight exercises is responsible for minor stresses on the muscles that, when rested and rebuilt, grow back not only stronger, but with a higher metabolic appetite. That means that the more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you’ll need simply to sustain your weight. Work out, eat more? Yes please!

If you’re an individual who craves greater balance in life, look no further than your own reflection. Body weight exercises improve balance because it naturally incorporates large stabilizer groups of muscles in your core, arms, legs, and back. Flexibility is also enhanced by this physical activity if supplemented by moderate participation in yoga, dancing, or stretching.

Perhaps the biggest appeal of bodyweight training for so many people is the freedom and decision-making ability it affords. Unlike systematized, scheduled workout plans with set numbers of reps and sets and “leg days,” a bodyweight training routine is totally up to the individual pursuing the self-improvement. Many people find they can be more consistent and regularly active with this style of exercise because there’s a greater degree of autonomy and self-control. When you’re the one who is deciding how many squats, push-ups, and planks you complete, you’ll feel both liberated and empowered. More importantly, when you see just how strong you’re capable of becoming, it’s doubtful you’ll want to stop anytime soon.

If you’re hoping to use the power of your own body to feel stronger, more flexible, and energetic, contact QuickHIT Fitness Labs. We’re not a gym; we’re not a health club. We might be a bit experimental, but that’s how we get you unprecedented results.