Bodyweight exercises are often underestimated as a valuable way to workout but they are very effective for building strength, cardiovascular fitness, balance, coordination, and flexibility. You can do a few bodyweight exercises every day in a very short period of time and gain all the same health benefits as going to a gym! Make it a high intensity workout and burn more fat. To make a workout high intensity you can set a time limit, such as 1 minute and see how many of something you can do. For example, let’s suppose you can do 10 push-ups, instead of just doing 10, see how many you can do in 1 minute and take rest in between every couple reps. Or see how long it takes you to do 30 push-ups. It is more fun and challenging if you set some goals and even more fun if you challenge others in your house.
Here is an example of our family scoreboard. As you can see, some family members don’t like planks or cardio lol. We change the exercises every week and anyone can redo any exercise every day during the week, or it may take the whole week to do all the exercises once. It doesn’t matter. Something is always better than nothing and usually everyone ends up motivated at some point when they see other people’s scores going up. Usually 1 board is how many can you do in 1 minute, another board is how long can you do something. Now that the weather is getting warmer, we will also add ‘how many meters can you run in 1 minute’ and ‘how long does it take to run 2 km’.
Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises
- Builds strength – using multiple muscle groups at the same time is a great way to increase strength. Bodyweight training also increases explosive power.
- Cardiovascular fitness – don’t be fooled into thinking that bodyweight exercises are easier than using weights. 1 minute of burpees may sound like no big deal ….try it, it really gets your heart pumping!
- Burn fat fast – if you keep the intensity level high you will burn more fat than lifting weights in a gym.
- Strengthen core and stabilizer muscles – using multiple muscle groups together forces you to stabilize your body with smaller muscles you may not use often for just walking or doing household activities and this will help to prevent injuries in the long run. Using core muscles and deep stabilizers improves your coordination, balance, and overall functioning of your body.
- Reduces risks of chronic diseases – all forms of exercise have a positive impact of overall health. The high intensity, strength-building, fat burning effects of bodyweight training make these exercises extremely valuable for reducing diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, metabolic disease, increasing protective HDLs, reducing inflammatory blood markers and increasing longevity.
Fun Fact: You can burn about 50 calories doing 50 burpees, that is equal to about 1 chocolate chip cookie….good to know if you find yourself doing some “self-isolation eating” 🙂
Examples of Bodyweight exercises
Plank – abs, quads, shoulders
Russian twists, V-ups, crunches – abs, hip flexors
Push-ups – chest, triceps, shoulders, abs
Variations of push-ups can change focus of which muscle group works harder. Put your feet up on a stool or the couch and you will put more emphasis on the shoulders. Move your hands in close and you will put more emphasis on the triceps.
Skipping – Legs, calves, and cardio
- Lunges – quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves
- Jumping lunges – increase cardio
- Jumping squats and box jumps are other variations for legs
Pistol squats – great for balance as well as quads, also works hamstrings and glutes at the bottom of the movement
Burpees – quads, glutes, calves, abs, chest, shoulders, triceps, traps, plus great cardio
- Pull-ups – back, biceps, forearms, abs
- Alter the grip – Chin-up grip (palms facing forward) uses more biceps
Dips – Chest, triceps – can do this with feet on a chair or the floor
Supermans – lower back, glutes, hamstrings