The benefits of bodyweight training are so numerous it would take forever to go through each one. However many gym users go to the gym, jump straight on weight machines and crack on with their workout. Many have a standard routine using dumbells and barbells and little equipment variation in their training. Bodyweight training is one of the best ways to work your muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments. Yet is one of the most overlooked method of training. Many people say that Gymnasts have the best bodies, any they only with their bodyweight most of the time.
We look into why bodyweight training is so beneficial and why you need to put it into your gym program.
Bodyweight training builds strong muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments
Bodyweight exercises train the whole body in various planes of motion. This means that your body gets strong in many different movement patterns. Where using a weight machine is a fixed plane a motion, using your body you can change the angles. This means increased muscle, ligament and tendon activation across varying angles – ultimately leading to increased strength and stability.
A chest fly machine is great to work the pecs, however your shoulder joint will only be activated in the plane of motion the movement is happening. Taken out of this line the joint, tendons and ligaments could be very weak and vulnerable to injury. Chest flys on a Suspension Trainer require an additional balance and joint stabilisation factor, increasing joint strength, but the exercise also allows you to change the plane of motion easily. Simply extending the arms closer towards your hips or head will activate everything from a different angle.
Bodyweight exercises transfer to all sports
Proprioception is the sense of movement and body position. It is the understanding of what your body is doing and what position it is in. It is essential to executing and repeating any sport movement. By using your own body’s movement, and not relying on the plane of movement of a machine you are training this proprioception. This means you are not just working your muscles, but your brain too.
A javelin thrower wants to repeat the optimal throwing movement pattern and release position every time they throw. Bodyweight training helps you understand exactly what your body is doing and what position it is in – meaning the crossover to other sports is optimal.
The combination of being strong in a range of motion and your brain understanding the correct body position will maximise progression.
Bodyweight training helps reduce your risk of injury
Bodyweight exercises are typically natural movements, and rarely load the body up in a way which it wasn’t designed for. In contrast, most gym injuries occur from too much weight, bars falling on people and machines over extending the users joints. Not only are you at less risk of injury from doing bodyweight exercises, but when properly performed and progressed you can also strengthen the joints to a point that means they are unlikely to get injured exercising, as you have built them up from the start.
It is easy to progress and regress exercises
You can make bodyweight exercises as easy or hard as you need. Press ups too hard? Just raise your arms onto a bench or worktop, so that more of your bodyweight is on your feet rather than hands. Press ups too easy? Just get yourself a pair of Parallettes, enabling your body to go passed the level of your hands, or raise your feet up to place more weight on your hands.
Learning to pistol squat or lunge? Use a suspension trainer to assist the exercise until you can nail it with no balance assistance.