Simplifying Strength: Body Weight Training

Let’s talk strength training, folks.

 

Most exercisers have experienced it in one form or another, but a lot of people still have questions.  I’ve noticed that much of the confusion, to some extent, is due to the countless tools and machines designed for strength training.

 

Should I exercise my hamstring using a leg curl machine or a resistance band?  How DO I exercise my hamstring with a resistance band?  

 

Over the next few weeks I’ll do my best to explain a few of the different tools you’ll find in a gym, along with some of their advantages and shortcomings, with the hope that it will help you better organize your strength training  – or inspire you to add something new to your routine.

 

Bodyweight Training

the squat

 

Let’s start with the simplest equipment out there: You!

 

Body weight training includes any exercise where your body applies the resistance through a range of motion.  Exercises such as squats, push ups, pull ups, and planks all fall into this category.

 

Most of us remember performing many of these back in school, but recently bodyweight training has been on the rise in fitness world.

 

In the 2013 American College of Sports Medicine Annual Fitness Trend Survey, bodyweight training broke into the top 10 for the first time.

 

Many folks are choosing this back-to-basics approach to simplify their workout and still get great results.

 

My breakdown on bodyweight training:

 

Pros:

  • Easily the most cost-effective form of strength training.
  • Most exercises can be done anywhere with none or very minimal equipment.
  • Very effective at improving posture and torso stability.
  • All exercises are modifiable for less active individuals or those who are unaccustomed to the movement.

 

Cons:

  • Many exercises require some advanced techniques (proprioceptive awareness, core stability, and balance)
  • Gravity only pulls in one direction.  Exercising certain muscle groups requires more difficult or awkward positions and/or movements.
  • The exercises themselves lack variability.  Our body weight remains relatively unchanged, and even then each exercise uses only a percentage of that weight.  The actual strength gains you can achieve are limited and can’t progress any further without the addition of more equipment.

 

Stay tuned for the next few weeks and I’ll be explaining a few more strength training methods.  And try throwing in a few more squats this week!

 

Written by Ross Elliott

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  1. […] past three weeks I’ve highlighted the three most common tools for strength training: Bodyweight Exercises, Weight Machines, and Free Weights.  Each of these has its own set of positive and negative […]

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