Bodyweight Training: The Perfect Combination Of Strength Training, Muscle Toning And Fat Burning
If you’re not really into sports and fitness, you will probably not be familiar with bodyweight training. It’s actually a growing trend in exercise and fitness, and it is #1 on the American College of Sports and Medicine’s 2015 Fitness Trends list.
It appeals to people who want to burn fat and build muscle; as well as for people who want to be stronger to meet the needs of their activities for daily living.
It is also for people who don’t have time, patience, budget or inclination to spend on a gym membership, a weight set or to regularly go off to a gym.
What Is Bodyweight Training?
It’s actually a fancy term for the calisthenics you used to do in grade school for your physical education class. It seemed dorky to have to do them in gym class when you were a kid and you were reed thin but able to carry a backpack full of text books while walking at least a mile to school from your house and back.
But, now that you’re in your twenties, thirties and forties and the most exercise that you get is lifting your arm to point the remote at the TV, or clicking the mouse, you’re thinking of being a bit more fit and healthier.
You used to do it in gym class – first, as flexibility exercises, movement exercises and coordination exercises.
Including, the squats (who doesn’t know how to squat, right?), lunges (who doesn’t know how to lunge, right?) push-ups and pull-ups (that’s what all the boys did on the jungle gym at the park – before video games, that is).
It has recently been found that bodyweight training also helps tone muscles making you shapelier in areas that tend to sag with age and with gravity. It helps muscles and joints become a bit more flexible and it helps you better maintain balance when you walk and thus, prevent falls that could injure you.
And, since major muscle groups are utilized throughout the various moves, which, can easily induce the anaerobic state, bodyweight workouts are also a great conduit for fat burning as well.
It’s the same but not really the same
The principle of the exercises remain the same: you are using the weight of your own body so that you can build your strength. This means that you won’t need to buy dumbbells, kettlebells, and other gym equipment. You can lift your own body weight and still build muscle and enhance balance and flexibility.
What has changed are the way that lunges, squats, pull-ups and push-ups are done. You don’t do them any which way – there are certain positions that you can do so that the same exercises can actually help stimulate muscle building and strength-training of joints.
It involves stretching muscles, holding a position for a while (to get optimum stretch) and breathing slowly to help you burn fat.
It also involves using common everyday items (a half litre bottle of water or a gallon jug of milk) as weights to add weight and resistance to your exercises.
And sometimes the use of ordinary household furniture (coffee tables, chairs and piano benches) to help you stretch or brace yourself as you do the exercises.
How do you build strength, anyway?
If you think of strength as the ability to do work, and do work with ease and with efficiency, without injury or damage to your body, then strength can be built by building muscle, toning muscle and learning balance and flexibility in using those muscles.
Building muscle involves not only exercise, but, also diet. If you are serious about building strength, you have to eat whole food.
You also have to make sure that your diet has plenty of lean meat, fruits and vegetables. This will provide the building blocks for building strong muscle fibers.
How Muscle Is Built
Exercise and strength training will stimulate muscle development – literally, when we exercise, microscopic tears are made on the muscle fibers which we push, pull, lift, jump, reach and carry things.
Those little tears then alert the body to get protein and repair those tears. And when you use those same muscles often enough, the body gets used to the idea of repairing those muscle fibers and it will start building more muscle fibers in that specific area.
The more muscle built, the stronger you are. The more lean muscle tone you have, the more efficient the body becomes are burning fat.
You might not drastically lose weight (your weight loss might not be much) but, you will see a definite change in shape, bulk, tone and firmness in the muscles.
So, how do we do body weight training?
1. When doing squats, remember:
a. Do the squat by slowly lowering your bottom as though sitting in a chair.
b. Instead of bending at the waist as we do when we are about to sit, keep your shoulders and your back straight.
c. Your feet must be at least as wide apart as the width of your shoulders.
d. Hold the squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
e. Hold for a few breaths (a few counts) before standing up again.
f. Repeat for the prescribed amount of reps.
2. When doing lunges:
a. You can do forward lunges, backward lunges and side lunges.
b. It is also important to hold the lunge before slowly going back up.
c. Go as deep as you can without your knees touching the floor.
3. When doing push-ups:
a. Vary the position of your arms.
b. The position of the arms will work different parts of the shoulder, arm and back muscles.
c. Slowly going up and slowly going down will work out the muscles more.
There are many more bodyweight exercises that can help you get in shape without the need to spend money on gyms or equipment.
Lastly, you must rest and recover at least one day after doing at least half an hour of these body weight exercises. The muscle building actually occurs during the rest and recovery period.