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Are Body Weight Movements Enough?

I spent the better part of the month of August on the road, travelling across the country, moving my life and adventuring here, there and everywhere. During that time I wanted to take a conscious break from the gym but I still wanted to maintain some strength while doing the physical activities I love to do. So while mountain biking and hiking 5 days a week I committed to completing 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 100 air squats, 5 days a week for the entire month. You would often find me air squatting while waiting for the kid meandering on the trails, doing sit-ups on the trailer beds, or cranking out push-ups on the picnic bench before bed. I was reminded that if you are committed to constant and consistent work you CAN fit in fitness. But what about just doing body weight movements, is there benefit for your overall strength, fitness and physique? Here’s what I concluded from both my hands on ‘study’ and from previous clients experiences:

Pros of a basic body weight workout:

  • Good for all levels to complete
  • You can do it anywhere
  • A good foundation for strength
  • Something is better than nothing, no matter how basic the movements

Cons of a basic body weight workout:

  • It’s boring after a few days of doing the same thing
  • There is a strong need for diversity of movements as oppose to doing the same thing daily
  • There is a need for solid progression planning as oppose to doing the same rep scheme daily

So overall did my strength benefit over the past month? Definitely! I maintained upper body strength and increased my core strength. Fitness is fitness so regardless of the type of program the most important parts were staying accountable and consistent.

But there are two areas we often forget about when we are planning our own workout programs: a) progression and b) diversity. Long term benefits are never going to show up when we work with the same movements, and the same rep scheme day in and day out. If you want to get as strong as possible just doing reps isn’t gonna cut it. Progression is key and that doesn’t just mean adding in more reps but instead adding more weight or increasing the difficult with leverage or stabilization. Bench dips need to progress to ring dips, and incline push-ups to floor push-ups than to dynamic push-ups. This is part of the reason people train with dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells, it’s easier to progress with weight than to change up the movements.

Besides progression one of the critical missing pieces is often diversity. What other body weight movements could I have added into my program to get the most benefit? Here’s ten body weight movements that I could have done on the road with minimal equipment:

  1. Pullups
  2. Body or ring rows
  3. Jumping jacks
  4. Lunges
  5. Dips
  6. Planks
  7. Broad jumps
  8. Box jumps
  9. Tuck jumps
  10. Burpees

Obviously there are TONS of different variations for each of these bodyweight movements. Bodyweight training is all about the basics and no matter how advanced you are, your body will always fall back on its base level of strength. Your overall bodyweight strength will always serve as the foundation and bridge to your other strengths. And if you are interested in adding in even more diversity to your workouts join me in the Move Eat Play group (www.facebook.com/groups/moveeatplay) to watch this weeks Live demo on 15 plus ways to use one kettlebell.

About Cheryl

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