Now, first and foremost: I’m a massive fan of bodyweight exercises so am slightly biased, but even so I still believe there are three key benefits. However, before I delve into it let’s understand what we mean by bodyweight exercises.
Generally when it comes to building muscle and doing what I call functional fitness or calisthenics there are two approaches:
- One is to lift weights and do shed loads of reps.
- Two is to do bodyweight based movements.
Generally I’m not a fan of lifting weights because I find it boring and it only works one specific muscle group at once. However being an aerialist I need to be able to use multiple muscles at the same time. For example, if I’m doing aerial silks and inverting I’m using forearms, shoulders, triceps, core, glutes and back muscles at once. So for me, I’m a firm believer in using bodyweight exercises to build muscle. I do still do a small amount of weight lifting if I’m aiming for specific muscles but 90% of my training is bodyweight based and here’s 3 reasons why you should do more bodyweight training:
1. It works your body harder and burning more fat
The simple fact is with bodyweight training is you are always literally working with your body weight. So if you take me, I weight about 87kg (I know right, muscle is heavy), so whenever I’m doing a press up I’m lifting 87kg whereas if I were to work with a 10kg weights doing skull crushers I’m working no where near as hard. So you see, a press up uses the same muscle (triceps) as the skull crusher but my body has to work 4.5 times harder and utilise my shoulders, chest, quads and core. Therefore it burns more calories.
It’s the same with any bodyweight movement, you are never utilising one single muscle so your body always has to work harder burning more calories and ultimately tapping into its fat reserves.
2. It keeps you more flexible
While bodyweight movements are great for building strength and muscle they are also a great way to work on your flexibility. There’s no doubt that anything like pole, aerial hoop, aerial silks or trapeze requires a level of flexibility as well as strength. So if you’re like me and not really a fan of stretch it’s a great way to keep yourself flexible. For example transitioning from downward dog to cobra is a combination of stretch and strength.
3. It requires more focus
In my eyes lifting weights doesn’t particularly require a great deal of skill whereas take a deadlift handstand; Not only does it require a high level of flexibility, but also a high level of body awareness. You need to make sure you are stacking your hips over your shoulders whilst not leaning forwards too much and engaging the core at the right time. Plus, once you’re up there you’ve got to maintain the handstand. So in my eyes I would rather do something that’s going to require my full attention!
So that’s my view on bodyweight training and why I’ll always choose it over weight training. If you want to incorporate bodyweight training into your routine then try one of our Master Your Bodyweight online classes!