Bodyweight exercise is strength training exercise that only uses the individual’s own bodyweight to produce the resistance for the movement without any sort of free weights equipment. Most common movements of bodyweight exercises are push-up, pull-up, and sit-up.
There are two different ways of doing a weight training. Commonly when we refer to weight training, we only think of weight lifting using heavy exercise equipment at the gym, but undoubtedly, bodyweight exercise is also belong to weight training criteria since it’s using the bodyweight of own individuals.
In order to maximize the intensity of exercise that uses only our bodyweight, you just have to remember 3 elements; gravity, joint, and bodyweight.
Benefits of Bodyweight exercise
Even-though there are several differences between weight lifting and bodyweight exercise, bodyweight exercise has many great advantages in terms of athletic abilities. Please bare in mind that the purpose of this article is to help people understand better about advantages of bodyweight exercise, and spread out the fact that not only weight lifting is a great way to build muscles and to stay in shape but bodyweight exercises is also a great way to get ripped body as well.
1. Expensive Workout Equipments are Not Necessary
Most of bodyweight exercise requires its own bodyweight to do the exercise such as push ups and handstand, so it doesn’t require any of those fancy and expensive gym machines or barbells. Some of exercise do require workout tool such as pull up bar and parallel bar etc, but it gives you less pressure financially compared to other workout machines. Even if you don’t want to spend your money on buying any of those, you can go outside and do the exercises using bars in the playground or park.
In gymnastic, pull up bars, and parallel bars are great tools to get strength of upper body, but the best tool that can bring up the strength to the maximum level in this sport, is Gymnastic Rings. The most distinctive feature of Gymnastic Rings is their size and portability. Rings is one of the iconic event that represent the strength and power of sport in Gymnastic. However it is troublesome to find a place to install and procedure on the installation is bit of challenge.
2. Limitless Intensity of Bodyweight Exercise
The most important 3 components of body weight exercise are; gravity, joints, and bodyweight as mentioned above. In the past, some people didn’t realize that they could do bodyweight exercises intensively as much as weight lifting to increase the muscle mass but only suitable to develop for muscle endurance and isometric tension.
Gymnastic use gravity as its resistance alternative to free weight equipment or gym machines by pushing and pulling motion with body weight to develop athletic abilities. As intensity of exercise gets harder, body adapts to the new level of intensity and it become even more powerful and stronger. However if you insist the same level of intensity, the body will get used to that level of intensity and won’t grow up to the next level due to the increase in threshold.
That’s why you always need to keep push your body with higher level of intensity throughout the exercise no matter what type of exercise you do. To increase the intensity of weight lifting, we can just add more weight with heavier plate, but in bodyweight exercise, just because it only uses own bodyweight of individual and level of intensity is set at individual’s certain bodyweight, doesn’t mean that person can just eat more foods to gain weight to increase the intensity of bodyweight training. However you can utilize joints which connects the bone by applying principal of leverage to change the joint angle, which will create a whole new level of strength for the bodyweight exercise.
Not only bodyweight exercise can increase intensity of workout using leverage just like weight lifting, also there are alternative exercises to weight lifting movement that can stimulate same muscle groups. If bench press strengthen muscles in chest area, you can do planche or push up instead to get the same result out of the bodyweight exercise. Also an alternative to military press is hand stand or handstand push up that can increase muscle mass on shoulder. (it is highly recommended to use a wall if you are beginner for handstand)
Most beginners have some trouble setting the difficulties of bodyweight exercise. In weight lifting, it is obvious to increase the weight of barbell to get higher intensity, so it is easy and convenient to take control of intensity. However it could be trouble some for some people to set the intensity for bodyweight exercise, since it depends on the angle of body position to take control of the intensity.
If you see pictures below, one on the top is tuck planche, and picture on the bottom shows flat tuck(advanced) planche. To do the advanced planche from tuck planche you just need to stretched out lower side of the back and put your muscles have an optimum length at which they can produce maximum force, but it is not that easy as it looks. Even though there is a slight difference of movements from the original position, it involves you leaning more and more forward to balance the hold and this puts more stress on all of the flexors. Therefore the total strength you need to do the advanced planche is totally different since it requires huge amount of strength at maximum length of the muscle.
3. Whole body contraction(Isometric Contraction)
Any type of movement in gymnastic require whole body contraction and this is one of the best advantage of this sport. Lets take a look into the handstand as an example, in order to keep the balance, and maintain the handstand position, it needs tremendous amount of strength from all fingers to stay in position and arm need to be stretched out and locked out with full strength so that body can stand perpendicular to the ground, then it requires a strong shoulder muscle that can keep push the body away from the ground against resistance of gravity. Also it requires core strength that can maintain the balance and keep the back straight. Lastly Legs has to be stay straight like a chopstick without losing control. This means all parts of muscles in our body needs to stay contracted and activated to resist the body against gravity and holding a static position.
Let’s take a look into planche as an example once more. Planche is the movement that body is held parallel to the ground and this skill requires huge amount of strength. It demands strong shoulder muscles, wrist, elbow and core that can raise your upper body and hold it for awhile. If one of element is not strong enough as it demands, it will be impossible to perform planche. When the shoulder muscles aren’t strong enough to keep push the body away from the ground against gravity, upper part of body will collapse, and if there isn’t enough abdominal strength, whole body won’t be able to resist the gravity. Eventually the form will collapse. Therefore you won’t be able to perform any of bodyweight exercises if a single muscle part of the body doesn’t stay contracted. Principal of contraction applies to side lever and many other movements in gymnastics.
Even though each parts of muscle group in our body has given unique names for each of their own, that doesn’t mean that we can separate them apart one by one from the body. Every parts of muscle group has very close relationships with each other so it has to work together to get the most out of the exercise. Level of intensity for doing pull up after core exercise and before core exercise are very different which means latissimus dorsi muscle isn’t the only muscle that we use for pull up.
Another reason why whole muscles in our body need to be stay contracted is for the proper form. Most of movements in gymnastic require elbow, and knee to stay straight in order to perform the proper form without losing balance. In the process of getting the proper form through the muscle contraction, nerves system that is related to the movement, will also going to improve and develop as well.
However whole muscles don’t always need to stay 100% contracted every time, which means whole muscles in our body only need to get contracted from toe to finger tap, for the first time when our body is not used to the movement. Once our body adapts the movement, then we can only focus on using the muscle part that is crucial to keep the form and maintain the balance and loosen up the rest of muscle part a little.
In conclusion, any form of bodyweight exercise movement will help you to have a healthy body and build muscle, but definitely consider your time, budget, and goals when selecting the program that’s right for you.