Bodyweight Workouts: Pros & Cons
Entrepreneur, Fitness Enthusiast, Strength Coach
Due to recent global events, many of you have resorted to more primitive movements out of pure necessity. We are hear to tell you that that it is going to be okay. Going back to the basics isn't necessarily a bad thing. It could help to expose weaknesses in your game and an opportunity to slow down to work on what is important for your goals. Bodyweight workouts, done correctly, can be a welcomed change to your normal workout routine.
Bodyweight workouts require core strength and raw, fundamental movements that are staples to building a quality physique. Although many exercises will be easy to transition into, there are going to be plateaus and inherent boredom that comes with it. Some of you may start to look for ways to back-fill what you're missing from a traditional gym. You may find yourself attempting to modify and retrofit in order to address certain angles that were once supplemented by machines (pin loaded or otherwise). Now, we are not saying you shouldn't continue to use your imagination and look for ways to improve, but there are pros and cons to a body weight workouts that we think you should know.
Solid & Stable
Generally speaking, most body weight routines are a series of push or pull style compound movements with well centered carrying angles that are very unlikely to overextend one's self. By their very design, these exercises tend to not ask more than one's capability or athletic prowess. They are seen as the foundation to any new athlete and, therefore, are the entry-level recommendation when training the novice or youth.
Versatile (Little to no equipment needed)
You can take it anywhere! Your body that is. Most of these exercises can be performed using good old fashioned gravity. With the help of a basic box or stool, pull up bar, and a few other basics items, you can program a weeks worth of training before starting the rotation over again. Just starting out? No problem. Simply push or pull less of your body weight by removing part of your body during the movement (e.g. push-ups on your knees).
Compound Movement Benefits
What these style of exercises lack in single muscle isolation, it makes up for in it's ability to recruit multiple muscle groups at once. More muscles put to use equates to more output expended - scorching that fat with "heavy" compound movements. These exercises are hard and will make you sweat. Just because they call them fundamental, does not mean you should underestimate your body's response!
There will come a time in which the finite possibilities to bring up certain muscles will be challenging with bodyweight workouts alone. You will want to invest in equipment that will allow you to utilize muscles in an isolated manner so that you can diversify a bit. Dumbbells and barbells are an obvious first choice as well as heavy duty resistance bands. This will widen the variety of exercises you can do in a single routine.
Hard On Joints
When you were working out in the gym, there was a build up or warm up period in which you were moving or focusing on much less weight than your total body. These exercises were probably smooth and structured with little to no stability muscles with (for the most part) the center belly of your muscles doing most the work. Bodyweight workouts don't play by those rules and thus can be very hard on joints or inflame old injuries. Not much warm up here!
Problematic Progressive Overload
One of our favorite intensifier methods here at Uprise Nutrition is the commonly known term - progressive overload. Loosely described, it means to safely, yet constantly, add more intensity with each passing set (notice we said intensity, not weight!). Bodyweight workouts make this tough to accomplish for desired results. For some exercises, more reps won't be the ultimate answer. For other's, your body weight itself is too heavy for earlier sets and are more affective at lower weight.
As always, it's best to keep a journal of your workout routines to help plan for the pros and cons of bodyweight routines. Additionally, allow for some time before your workout starts for experimentation of new approaches and angles. That way you aren't met with frustration or disappointment while in your routine.