When I first started doing resistance training back in the late eighties and right through until I took a hiatus from it in the early 2000s, it was all barbells and plates, dumbbells, specialized machines, and pullies. You really couldn’t have a good set-up at home unless you had the space and funds to invest in lots of equipment.
When I went back to it last March I saw a personal trainer three times a week. Yes, we used a lot of equipment. But the biggest change in the workouts he had me do and the ones I used to do was the number of body weight exercises he incorporated into my program. Every session I did things like burpees, push-ups, mountain climbers, lunges, squats, jump squats, one-legged deadlifts, squat kicks, pull-ups, bench jumps, jumping jacks, jack knives, crunches, planks, etc.
They were hard. Tremendously, exhaustingly, sweatily challenging.
And they required no (or very little) equipment. In order to get stronger with these, I just had to focus on good form and on adding reps.
After working out with the trainer for most of last year, I feel I’ve learned enough to bring it home. My husband and I have set up a small area in our house where we work out. Using very little equipment (i.e. a couple of mats, some dumbbells at preset weights, a stability ball, a bosu, a couple of medicine balls, and some resistance bands) we do an intense workout every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 6:30 a.m.
The first half of the workout consists solely of body weight exercises.
We vary them from day to day and usually chose 5 or 6 (we pretty much always include push-ups because we do not have the bar, plates, and bench to do bench presses). After that we do a little bit with the weights and the medicine balls. We do two fairly swift rounds. Then some core work. The only thing we are not well set up for are pull-ups, which are among the most challenging body weight exercises–that’s a deficit in our program but overall, it’s well-rounded and challenging.
We work up as much of a sweat as we did at the training studio and I have seen noticeable gains in my strength. For example, I used to only be able to do 6 proper push-ups with good form. The day we left for our vacation I did 12.
And while on the boat, we’re doing body weight exercises and using the resistance bands, as well as all the other good stuff I blogged about on Tuesday. There is nothing like body weight training for portability. And who doesn’t have a few minutes to do some push-ups and hold a two-minute plank? Especially on vacation. Toss in some jump squats, 45 seconds of mountain climber, and a few lunges and you’ve done pretty well for yourself in under 15 minutes.
If you’ve been working with body weight training and want to ramp up your routine, you might get some good ideas from this video. As I commented when Samantha first posted this on Facebook, I just want to high five this dude by the end of the sequence!
The video shows that there is no end of possibilities when you are using your own weight as ballast and challenging your body to do more than it usually does.
Fifteen burpees coming right up. And then the fun part: I’ll race you to the beach again.
2 thoughts on “Body Weight Training: Work Hard, Get Strong”
The kind of training you are talking about is difficult and rewarding. I can’t do what you recommend exactly because of the actual weight training program I’m on. I am on a 6 day cycle – day 1 – chest; day 2 – back; day 3 – core; day 4 – shoulders; day 5 – arms; day 6 – legs; day 7 – rest. But I will incorporate some push-ups on day 1, lunges (carrying barbells) on day 6, etc. With weight training per se, you shouldn’t actually work any particular muscle group more than once a week. The body needs alot more time to heal than thought even just 10 years ago – especially as you grow older. I also do cardio most days – usually about 45 minutes worth, at least 20 minutes of it being interval training. (Although some days I’m just too tired and sore, so do just 20 or so minutes of cardio.) The truth is that unless you actually do participate in any particular form of exercise – you won’t be very good at that particular form of exercise, no matter what else you do. It’s all worthwhile, as you say!
Correction: Lunges are with dumbells, not barbells. Duhhhh 🙂
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