Healthy Tahoe: The many advantages of body weight training
Bodyweight training goes back thousands of years as the chosen training method for the Greeks, Romans, and United States Navy Sea, Air, and Land teams. Outside of being used in the training of the world’s greatest warriors, bodyweight exercises are a key component of many of the best fat loss and muscle gain workouts available.
Bodyweight training is any exercise that involves using the body to resist against gravity. Common types of bodyweight training include calisthenics exercises, like sit-ups and push-ups; plyometrics to improve explosive power; and yoga emphasizing a mind-body connection.
While a variety of fitness equipment and methods have become available, bodyweight training reserves many advantages. Bodyweight training became popular because of its inexpensive nature, convenience of not needing any equipment, and ability to perform the exercises anywhere. And while individual differences in size and strength make it difficult to construct strength training machines to accommodate everyone’s needs and shape, bodyweight training is unique to each individual.
Bodyweight training is often perceived as too easy for the experienced trainee and too hard for the beginner. However, with proper exercise execution and knowledge it is possible to develop a bodyweight-only training program to fit anyone’s needs.
A perfect example is the plank exercise. The plank exercise is an isometric core strength exercise that involves maintaining a straight position for extended periods of time. The most common plank is the front plank which is held in a push-up position with the body’s weight on forearms, elbows, and toes without sagging or raising at the hips. A person can increase the intensity of the exercise by increasing the duration: plank for 10 seconds, then 20 seconds, and so on.
Another way to increase the difficulty is to lift an arm or leg and hold the same position on three body parts. This reduces the base of support and makes the core work more, adding variety and excitement to an otherwise static exercise.
Bodyweight training is not only effective on its own, but when added to a program involving weights, increases efficacy as well. External loads — like free weights — can also be added to exercises like planks, dips, push-ups, and pull-ups to challenge the strongest of athletes.
Many people feel they need specialized exercise equipment to reach their goals, but the most effective and underutilized piece of equipment is one they already have access to: their body.
Kyler Crouse is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with the Barton Center for Orthopedics & Wellness. He specializes in athletic performance training and offers individualized training and exercise programs to the Lake Tahoe community. To meet with Kyler and get started on an exercise program that fits your needs, visit BartonOrthopedicsandWellness.com or call 530-600-1976.
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