With the seemingly endless possibilities of bodyweight exercises, you can complete a sweat-inducing workout whenever you have time. Some believe that bodyweight exercises alone are not enough, but that is a myth. Resistance is the same to our bodies, and you can always find new challenges in the wide world of bodyweight training.
Moves like push-ups, air squats, planks, and burpees are just a few of the many exercises that are best for bodyweight workouts. Whether you incorporate bodyweight exercises into your warmup routine or as your primary workout, the resistance of your bodyweight alone can offer a range of physical and mental benefits. People of all ages and fitness levels can modify bodyweight exercises to make them as challenging as possible within their fitness level.
What kinds of benefits can you expect from exercising without equipment? From building functional strength to working out at any time, bodyweight exercises are definitely something to try! Bodyweight classes are incredibly popular for these reasons and more. How can you access a fast-paced HIIT-style bodyweight class or a refreshing yoga class? With iFIT, you can have dozens of bodyweight workout series in our massive workout Library!
Physical benefits of bodyweight exercises
With bodyweight exercise, YOU are the gym! No gym membership, dumbbells, or machines are needed to have an absolutely incredible workout. Maybe you’re new to fitness and want to get started on building your endurance and strength. According to Dr. Edward R. Laskowski, “Bodyweight training can be as effective as training with free weights or weight machines.”
This means that you can achieve your fitness goals without ever stepping foot into a traditional gym! As long as you follow proper form and technique, you can quickly improve your physical fitness. Consider calisthenics athletes. In calisthenics, large muscle groups are used to pull off impressive movements, like human flags or handstands. No equipment is needed for them to build muscle! You do not need much to build strength and learn new skills. Here are other key physical benefits of bodyweight workouts.
1. Work out when and where it suits you
Bodyweight training is incredibly versatile, allowing you to exercise at the gym, your home, and virtually anywhere else. Adding bodyweight exercises like burpees and lunges to a weight training workout will allow you to use your body in different ways, contributing to muscular gain and cardiovascular endurance. Plus, variety like this keeps workouts interesting!
You may not have access to or interest in going to a gym, but you love the idea of working out at home. With bodyweight exercise, your living room, garage, or office becomes your home gym. The only things you need are enough space to move…and, of course, your body! Bodyweight workouts can also be beneficial while you’re on vacation or traveling for work. You can cross off a great workout in the morning before heading off to the beach or in the evening after a day of meetings. Who knew sticking to your fitness goals could be so easy? Any time is the right time for your next sweat session!
2. Improve performance across all fitness levels
You might ask, “Does bodyweight exercise ever become too easy?” The answer is no! One great benefit of bodyweight workouts is that there are always ways to make exercises more complex if they become too easy. Maybe you have become proficient at air squats. Try holding the squat position for five seconds before standing up to complete the movement. You can also shorten your rest periods to keep your heart rate up. The more resistance you create, the harder your body will need to work to move against that resistance. Adding these advanced modifications will help you build strength, contribute to flexibility, and improve your endurance.
3. Boost your metabolism
When you engage in faster-paced bodyweight workouts, a few things happen that can facilitate your goals. As your heart rate increases during those push-ups and squats, your metabolism spikes. After putting in the work, your metabolic rate increases, even up to an hour after your workout! When paired with a nutritious diet, bodyweight exercise can really kickstart your fitness journey. Do you want to increase your cardiovascular endurance and boost your metabolism at the same time? Bodyweight training definitely brings value to the mix, even for short, high-intensity workout periods!
4. Aid in injury prevention
Since you won’t be using additional equipment like dumbbells, the risk of injury is much lower. Generally speaking, bodyweight exercise is safer since you’re only working against the resistance of your own weight. In fact, bodyweight movements like stretching can provide the joint lubrication needed for safe workouts. This increases body temperature and provides oxygen to the muscles. You’ve likely noticed iFIT Trainers discussing the importance of stretching and warming up before getting to the heart of a workout. Bodyweight training can also increase your flexibility, helping you move more efficiently in your workouts and everyday life. The more you can move and bend properly, the better!
5. Prepare your body for intense exercise
As you gradually become skilled with bodyweight exercise, you may feel ready to transition to workouts with equipment. Should this occur, it’s wise to keep your favorite bodyweight movements in your toolbox. Why? When you bring dumbbells, barbells, and machines into the mix, your risk of injury naturally increases. You can help stave off injuries by warming up with bodyweight exercises.
Take the time to stretch and warm the muscles before doing any weighted movements. When you join an iFIT workout, the trainer is sure to mention warming up the body before dropping into the main workout session. These exercises can seriously improve more sophisticated exercises, like barbell squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. Knocking out a few sets of air squats and lunges before barbell squatting will help lower-limb flexibility in the ankles and hips. Each of these is necessary for perfect form. While you might be ready to try weight training, don’t forget your bodyweight exercise essentials!
Mental benefits of bodyweight exercises
Not only can bodyweight exercise offer an assortment of benefits for your body, but it can also provide some incredible mental benefits like stress relief and focus. After all, it is your mindset that will keep you coming back for another bodyweight workout. It’s crucial to keep your mental well-being foremost in your mind! Since you don’t need equipment, you won’t find yourself worrying over membership fees, parking, or closing times. Instead, bodyweight workouts can be done on your time whenever you’d like. With no added pressure, there won’t be any feelings of guilt! Here are a few mental benefits you can expect from bodyweight exercise.
1. Provides a more comfortable workout experience
When you’re new to the fitness world or returning after a long break, workouts with heavy weights and equipment can feel intimidating. Unfortunately, situations like these push would-be fitness enthusiasts away. Luckily, you don’t need those things to get going on your fitness journey. Bodyweight exercises can be easily modified so that you can get used to the movements. Instead of classic push-ups, you can instead opt for knee push-ups until you’ve built up enough strength to progress.
This is a great way to see results in real time, especially when you begin to notice shifts in your ability to perform more reps, notice differences in your mentality, or finally nail that pull-up. Since an at-home bodyweight workout can be done where you feel most comfortable, you will feel more at ease in trying new exercises, modifying them to your ability, and giving it your all!
2. Can help improve self-esteem
Bodyweight exercise is great for bolstering your self-esteem! Since no expert skill is required to carry out movements like push-ups, sit-ups, or jumping jacks, you can quickly master bodyweight exercises. In time, you will feel ready to make them more challenging. By practicing bodyweight movements, you will perfect them in time.
If you keep a workout journal (which we recommend!), you can track your progress during every workout. A great way to organize your journal is listing out the type of exercise, the number of repetitions you’ve completed, and the number of sets you worked through. Over time, you’ll begin to notice your numbers shift and maybe even the type of bodyweight exercises you can perform effectively. For example: Maybe you started your journal with knee push-ups, but you can now perform classic push-ups. The upticks in completed repetitions and sets will help motivate you to push yourself during your next workout. In a month or two, you will be able to look back and see just how far you have come!
3. Contributes to mental sharpness
Learning and practicing new skills does the brain good. It’s easy to forget just how quickly we can adapt to new situations. The central nervous system is to thank for our ability to pick up new information rapidly. At some point in your life, you may have noticed that after a few attempts at trying something new, you were eventually able to do it. The same applies to bodyweight exercise. You might look at pistol squats or pull-ups and say, “I can’t do that!” In reality, you can! With modifications and patience, you can nail these movements and more. This is great for your mental wellbeing, as learning new skills like these helps keep your mind sharp!
4. Constant variety in workouts
If you’re the type of person that enjoys mixing it up, bodyweight exercise is for you! Many types of exercises will help strengthen your upper body, core, and lower body. It’s easy to switch up these types of exercises since it’s only a matter of moving your body in a different way instead of lugging around equipment.
One day, you might feel excited about an upper-body-focused workout, and the next day might be your day for core work. Work out in your home gym or take it to a local park or beach for a change of scenery. Exercise in the morning before work or in the evenings to decompress. Maybe you have a goal in mind and want to commit to achieving it over the course of a month. With bodyweight exercises, you’ll never get bored with your workout routine!
5. Eases mental stress
After a great workout, we all feel a little less stressed with better clarity. This is because as you work out, your body releases neurotransmitters called endorphins. They contribute to a better mood and help ease your mental load. When you’re feeling a bit bogged down, a quick bodyweight workout is just what you need to refocus your mind. As you work through bodyweight circuits, you will hopefully be able to put the day’s troubles on hold, which can make a huge difference in tackling them later. Maybe a difficult project has arisen at work that you can’t seem to untangle. Stepping back to focus your attention on a bodyweight workout might give you the clarity you need!
A calming yoga workout can help you clear your mind, so you feel ready to take on the rest of your day or week. Bodyweight workouts like these are useful for sleep as well, helping to calm your mind before heading to bed. Exercising can even aid with the symptoms of mild depression and anxiety. Whether you’re at home, the office, in a hotel, or anywhere else, bodyweight workouts are accessible and can be completed in less than 30 minutes. Plus, they’re easy to plan!
Get started today with iFIT bodyweight classes
If you’re ready to start reaping the many benefits of bodyweight exercises, sign up for an iFIT account to access a wide selection of bodyweight classes! Work out right at home with your on-demand personal trainer when you try one of our many interactive series. If you’re just starting out in your fitness journey, try a few of our moderate bodyweight workouts. These will allow you to ease into this type of exercise before moving on to more advanced workouts.
Two great introductory bodyweight series to try are the Beginner Plus Bodyweight Strength Series with iFIT Trainer Jonnie Gale and the Beginner Bodyweight Strength Series with iFIT Trainer Zac Marion. These trainers will instruct you on the essentials of bodyweight workouts, so you can build up your foundation for more complex classes in the future. These workout series can be found on our fitness app, so you can follow along on your mobile device and even take them to the gym!
If you’re looking for a challenge to take your workouts to the next level, try our Bodyweight Bootcamp workouts! You can save these workouts or print them out, so you always have a bodyweight workout ready to go. Other iFIT series include bodyweight training in St. Lucia, intervals in French Polynesia, and so much more. Sign up for your free iFIT 30-day trial to start a bodyweight workout today!
DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. iFIT assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner’s manual of your fitness equipment.