Body Weight Training

Using the weight of your own body to create resistance was one of the earliest forms of strength training. It's easy to learn, effective, and you can do it just about anywhere.

Because they do not require weights, bodyweight exercises are the ideal choice for individuals who are interested in fitness but do not have access to strength training equipment. Weights can be incorporated to increase the difficulty of most bodyweight exercises and some exercises do require some sort of apparatus to lean on or hang from, but the majority of bodyweight exercises require only a floor. For those exercises that do require equipment of some kind, a substitute can usually be improvised, for example using two branches of a tree to perform tricep dips.

Bodyweight exercises use the individual's own weight to provide the resistance for the movement. This means that the weight being lifted is always the same. This makes it difficult for less experienced athletes to achieve a level of intensity that is near their one rep maximum, which is desirable for strength training. Other methods for increasing intensity include using additional weights (such as wearing a weighted vest or holding a barbell or plate during a sit up) or by altering the exercise to put one's self at a leverage disadvantage (such as elevating the feet or using only one hand during a push-up). Gymnasts make extensive use of this last technique by doing much of their training with straight arms (such as iron crosses, levers, and planches), a mechanically disadvantaged position. Furthermore, a unilateral progression scheme can be used. Instead of a bilateral movement, such as a two-handed pull-up, the practitioner may decide, for strength increases, to choose a set of exercises that will allow him/herself to complete the one-arm pull up. In the bodyweight-training community, unilateral movements are highly regarded and sought after.

Popular Body Weight Exercises

  1. Push Ups
    Begin in push up position, on knees or toes. Perform 4 push ups, abs in and back straight. On the 5th push up, lower halfway down and hold for 4 counts. Push back up and repeat the series - 4 regular push ups and 1 halfway--5 or more times.
  2. Dip
    Hanging from a dip bar or other implement with the arms straight and the shoulders positioned above the hands, the body is lowered until the arms are bent at a 90 degrees angle.
  3. Pull up
    Hanging from a bar with arms extended and palms facing away from the exerciser, the body is pulled up until the elbows are bent and the head is higher than the hands.
  4. Sit-up
    It begins with lying with the back on the floor, typically with the knees bent in an attempt to reduce stress on the back muscles and spine, and then elevating both the upper and lower vertebra from the floor until everything superior to the buttocks is not touching the ground.
  5. Squat-Thrusts
    Stand with feet together. Squat down and place your hands on the floor next to your feet. In an explosive movement, jump feet backwards into a push-up position, jump feet back between hands and stand up.