Bodyweight Strength Training

One of the best things about running is its convenience: you just need your shoes, appropriate clothes, and a stretch of road. There’s no need for fancy equipment, DVDs, or an instructor; you just go. When you gain fitness and are ready to progress, you don’t need to buy heavier weights or anything; you simply run longer and faster.

For the same reasons I love running, I love bodyweight strength training. It’s convenient, affordable, efficient, and adaptable. You can do it anywhere, which is great for staying on track while traveling or even if you just don’t want to leave the house to drive to the gym. Additionally, I believe bodyweight strength exercises are great for runners, because they engage multiple muscle groups in a similar fashion as running does and thus strengthen our bodies specifically for the demands of running. Bodyweight exercises can also improve your range of motion, flexibility, and balance.

Bodyweight strength training

Bodyweight strength exercises are also great in preventing injury, which is essential whether you are logging lots of miles in training for a big race or just looking to develop a sustainable weight loss and fitness regimen. It can be easy to overload weight when using barbells, kettlebells, or dumbbells, but not as easy to do so when you’re working with your own body weight. Bodyweight strength exercises then help you learn how to do squats, lunges, and other exercises with proper form so that you know them movements and are at less risk of injury when you progress to using weights. Also, there’s no risk of dropping a heavy weight on your foot or throwing out your back!

There are two major types of body weight exercises: plyometrics, such as mountain climbers, jumping lunges, and burpees, and basic strength exercises, such as squats, push-ups, and planks. Plyometrics are explosive exercises that increase the heart rate and burn lots of calories, while strength exercises strengthen your muscles to achieve a toned look.

Rather than isolating specific muscle groups, bodyweight strength exercises work multiple muscle groups at once, which means that you get a more effective workout in less time. Whether you are a beginner or have been leading a fit lifestyle for years, bodyweight strength workouts are a great way to strengthen your entire body without spending hours at the gym!

Here are two bodyweight strength workouts: one for beginners and one for intermediate/advanced. Be sure to focus on doing the movements with good form and moving slowly so that you are using your focus rather than relying on momentum.

Bodyweight training beginner workout

 

Forearm Plank: From a raised push-up position, lower your self onto your forearms. Your body should form a straight line and your back should be flat. Pull your abs up to engage them (as if you were bracing against a punch) and hold.

Squats: Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width distance apart. Lower yourself down and back into a squat position; pause, and return to start. Keep your knees behind your ankles and try to get your thighs as parallel with the floor as possible. That is one repetition; repeat.

Pushups: Begin in a raised plank position, with your arms directly beneath your shoulders and your back straight. Slowly bend your arms and lower your body evenly towards the ground, keeping your back flat and your abs engaged. Pause, and then push up back to start. That is one rep; repeat.

Bridges: Lay on your back, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Engage your abs and raise your hips up towards the sky, so that your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold for a few seconds before lowering down to complete one rep. Repeat.

Tricep Dips: Use a chair, bench, or other flat surface about two or three feet off the ground for this move. Place your feet on the ground in front of the chair and your hands on the edge of the chair. Use your arms to lower you towards the ground and then push back up to start; that’s one rep. Repeat.

Forward Lunges: Stand with your feet about hip-width distance apart. Step your right foot forward and lower into a lunge, so that both knees form 90 degree angles. Pause, step your right foot back, and repeat with your left foot for one rep. 

Supermans: Lie flat on your stomach with your legs extended straight behind you and your arms extended straight in front of you. Engage your abs and raise your arms and legs up at the same time, so that only your torso is on the ground. Hold for a few seconds and then lower down to complete one rep; repeat.

Advanced Bodyweight strength Workout

 

Side Plank: Lie on your left side with your knees slightly bent. Raise your hips up so that your left forearm is supporting you, your hips and shoulders are evenly stacked, and your body forms a straight line. Engage your abs and hold. Lower, and then repeat on the right side.

Jump Squat:Stand with your feet wider than hip-width distance apart. Push your butt back and down to lower into a squat, and then in one movement straighten your legs and jump off the ground. Land softly to complete one rep; repeat.

Rotating Pushups: Begin in a raised plank position, with your arms directly beneath your shoulders and your back straight. Slowly bend your arms and lower your body evenly towards the ground, keeping your back flat and your abs engaged.Push yourself back up and then reach your left arm towards the sky, rotating into a raised side plank. Repeat on the right side for one rep.

Single-Leg Bridge:Lay on your back, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Extend your left leg up and off of the ground. Engage your abs and raise your hips up towards the sky, so that your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold for a few seconds before lowering down to complete one rep. Repeat all the reps before switching legs.

Burpees: Begin standing with your feet hip-width distance apart. In one quick movement, bring your hands down to the ground and jump your feet behind you so you are in a raised pushup position. Jump your feet in by your hands and jump up to return to start. Repeat.

Reverse Lunge with Rotation: Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart. Step back with your right leg into a lunge and twist your torso towards your left leg. Untwist your torso as you return to standing. Repeat with your left leg for one rep. 

(A couple weeks ago, I was reading the Bankers Healthcare Group blog and came across their Fitness Trends of 2015 post, which ended up inspiring my “Bodyweight Strength Training” post. Bankers Healthcare Group gives financing for physician loans and even physical therapists loans to help support all types of patients’ health, fitness, and wellness. Check out their blog for more fitness and health related posts!)

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9 Responses

  1. Yes, yes, yes! I love bodyweight exercises. Mostly because I can do them while watching Real Housewives or some other ridiculously dumb reality show that completely distracts me from what I’m actually doing. I keep 15 lb dumbbells by my TV in case I want to mix it up, but a lot of the time I stick with the classics: planks, bicycle crunches, push ups, and squats.

    1. I’m the same way – I listen to my most pop-y Pandora stations when I do them to distract me! And the classics are classics for a reason – because they work!

  2. This actually comes at a perfect time of trying to incorporate more simplified strength training into my daily routine, even to just do once an hour to get my body moving. Now that I work primarily from home (or coffee shop, or coworking space…), I sit all.the.time. I’ll definitely pin both of these workouts to try out this week!

    1. I’m glad it’s helpful to you! I work from home also, and it’s way to easy to sit for extended periods. Mini strength workouts are a great way to get moving and take a small break from work. And thank you for the pins!

  3. So true…ironically i hate using resistance machines inside the gym eventhough im a fitness trainer…I dnt appreciate boybuilding since it makes us slow and fragile..I love doin bodyweight exercises and boxing training still…in fact resistance machines inside the gyms makes you more prone to injury since he movements are very artificial compared to bodyweight exercises that are very natural and more functional since it mimics evryday movements…my friends can do bench press but cant do proper pushup..some can do leg press machine but cant do squats…some can do bicep curls and preacher curls but cant do chinups and pullups…u can easily determine the real strength in these clients by asking them to do bodyweight exercises..bodyweight exercises also builds thicker bone density and stronger tendons and better proprioceptors rather than weight machines…. machines only build bigger muscles but triggers fragile bones and poor balance and flexibility…lastly, bodyweight exercises are more compound uses multiple muscle groups that helps ur body to produce more growth hormones and testosterone compared to artificial weight machines…keep it up continue to be natural! !,!^_^….

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