Bodyweight exercise has existed before any other kind.
Whether humans were running along the fertile ground near rivers or performing feats of strength as ritual, the ability to have control over one’s body is more human than any other training.
Rediscover the benefits of bodyweight exercise
- Exercise in a natural range of motion
- Metabolic boosts, calorie burning
- Improved recovery capacity and less stress on the central nervous system
- Typically supports joint health and muscles which stabilize the joint
- Lean muscle tone
Why don’t more people do bodyweight training?
Even though there are many subcultures of fitness which are entirely dedicated to bodyweight training, the truth is that most people have a failure to appreciate the difficulty of bodyweight exercises.
The Planche is a static hold requiring tension throughout the entire body. This is an advanced position requiring many months of progression and exercises as well as a lean physique with low body fat.
The result, however, is an incredibly fit individual. This is just an example of how bodyweight exercises can increase in difficulty by changing the levers of the exercise. What was once a push up position now supports the entire body in the air.
The cons of bodyweight exercise
Gaining the strength, skill, coordination to perform advanced variations is difficult enough. Moreover, most people simply don’t have the physique (at this point in time) to be able to perform advanced exercises.
So most people are forced to begin with simple variations on bodyweight exercises and they feel very humbled by how much trouble they have. Instead of doing bodyweight exercises, many gym-goers go off and use implements such as dumbbells and machines. People with large body mass or people with significant excess body fat will have difficulty performing bodyweight exercises.
On the flip side, people with very LOW body mass (skinny people) may have more trouble building muscle mass from bodyweight exercises alone because their bodies are not forced to move as much weight. For example, if a 130 pound guy does 20 chin ups, versus a 200 pound guy who does 15 chin ups — who do you think will have bigger arms and back as a result of chin up practice? Most likely the larger guy.
Embrace the challenge
The more I learn about the human body, the more I realize that bodyweight exercises should be foundational and not supplemental. The joint health benefits alone are significant enough, and then you should also remember the coordination and functional benefits as well.