Body Weight Exercises Have Big Benefits

Whether you are adding some extra squats or push-ups between gym sessions, or crunches before work – body weight exercise has some big benefits.

This term covers a lot of different exercises. The common denominator is that you use your own bodyweight for resistance. Benefits include the fact that no special equipment is concerned, that these routines can be done anywhere, muscle tone and of course improved health and wellbeing.

You’ll find more on the benefits of body weight exercises first below. After that are 5 of the most popular exercises of this type to do at home. At the end of this page I have looked at how adding home gym equipment can help you get even more from your routine.

Benefits of Body Weight Exercises

Let’s face it, keeping the motivation to go to the gym can be tough at times. Instead of swapping out that workout for a night in front of the TV, a body weight routine can make a big difference. While you will not get the same intensity of workout, you’ll keep your muscles primed and toned this way. Many people have a body weight home exercise routine as a backup for those times they can’t get to the gym. This could be on the road while travelling for business (or pleasure!) too.

There are very few body weight exercises which involve needing to buy extra equipment. In fact, the whole idea of these workouts is that you use your own weight. There are some exceptions, and some exercises where a kettlebell or TRX system might help – though for those looking to get fit cheaply, home body weight routines are ideal.

Finally, this is a great way to get started with exercise. Many people are concerned about joining a gym while out of condition. After a few months body weight training, maybe combined with some home fitness machines, you’ll feel more confident – and can join your local gym without feeling intimidated at all.

Popular Body Weight Exercises

There are plenty more variations than what I have listed below. Here are the 5 most popular body weight exercises – covering legs, arms, chest and abs.

#1 – Push Ups

The best-known exercise of all, and one which still has a lot of fans. Push-ups are easy to get wrong. If you spread your arms too wide, the positive effects are greatly reduced. To perform the perfect push up, make sure your wrists are in line with your shoulders – and that your elbows are not ‘flared’ outwards. You should dip all the way to the floor without quite touching it, and then push back up. There are many variations on this theme.

#2 – Squats

If you have felt the ‘benefits’ of squats in the different leg muscles, you’ll know this is a deceptively effective exercise. To squat you start with your feet a shoulder width apart, then – keeping your feet flat and back straight –you bend your knees and move your butt towards the ground. Ideally, you want to sit low enough that your butt is level with your knees before sitting back up again.

#3 – Planks

If you have never tried ‘the plank’, then you will find out just how tough an exercise laying still can be. This body-weight routine is great for the core muscles. You need to lay flat, then prop yourself up on your elbows and toes. You keep a straight back and legs, then maintain this position – stomach tucked in. Most people trying this for the first time can’t hold the position for more than 30 seconds.

#4 – Sit Ups

Also known as ‘Crunches’, this form of body weight exercise has been the topic of a lot of debate recently. They remain popular, and are great for both cardio and for the abs and core. There are lots of variations, thought the main idea remains the same. You lay on your back, and literally sit up using your abs and lower back muscles. Hands are usually kept behind the head, and legs can be straight or bent at the knee.

#5 – Burpees

The final popular home body weight exercise is will really get your heart racing! This is more dynamic than the other exercises. You start of standing straight, then go down into the push-up position, do a single push up, then jump holding your arms up, before repeating. Burpees are a good combination of strength training and cardio!

Body Weight Exercise and Home Fitness Equipment

You can do plenty of fitness training without needing any specialist fitness equipment. If you find that you enjoy this type of exercise, then you might want to invest in some value equipment to improve your routine.

First on my shopping list would be a mat. There are a lot of choices available, from a simple roll-up yoga mat, to some thick interlocking foam tiles. You might also want to try some free weights. These can easily be incorporated into your routine. There is a lot more to free weights than just better-defined arms. They open a lot of new opportunities. Resistance bands, TRX systems and an abs roller can help to improve any body weight routine.