The short and simple answer to the question of "are body-weight exercises effective" is YES! Body-weight training is one of the best training strategies for building a fitness foundation. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends adding strength training of all major muscle groups into your fitness routine at least two times a week in addition to your aerobic activity. Personal trainers worldwide use various body-weight exercises for strength training to improve the quality of movement, decrease costs, and target specific areas for rehabilitation. Many athletes today swap gym session workouts for body-weight training because of the benefits they see from consistency.
Humans are built to perform a variety of movements; however, many of us only use a select few movements as we sit at desks on computers. To reach optimal mobility, we need to exercise our body in ways that target the various muscle groups we use and don’t normally use. Repetitive motions of many exercises only work for so long and can lead to injury. Body-weight exercises provide a variety of movements that challenge your muscle groups to work.
There is a common assumption that body-weight exercises cannot be effective because they are too simple. However, this is false. Bodyweight training is incredibly effective for building muscle.
Many argue that it is better than free weights because these exercises are classified as closed kinetic chain (CKC) exercises. In CKC exercises, the movement is fixed to a wall, floor, or object by a hand, foot, arm, etc. which requires your other joints in multiple areas to build resistance to the chain. In a gym, pulling a piece of gym equipment is only targeting one specific joint movement and doesn’t have the additional benefits the closed kinetic chain has.
Another benefit of doing body-weight workouts is that the exercises can be done anywhere you have a little room. You can work out in your living room, bedroom, park, hotel room, and more. There is no need to spend extra money on a gym or extra time commuting to your workout. It is much easier to stay consistent and build healthy fitness habits with your workout plan when you can fit in small workouts at home.
Body-weight workouts are beneficial because they are a sustainable way to help reduce injuries. By spending time on body-weight exercises, you strengthen your joints and lesser-used muscles. Two key components to long-term injury prevention are a stable torso through your back and core and overall flexibility— bodyweight training can help build up both of these key components to prevent injury. However, beginners of body-weight training also need to be conscious of not rushing into workouts and being mindful of their body learning new movements to not cause injury.
Body weight exercises are great for all abilities. If you are a beginner, they are a great way to begin to work your muscles and joints to gain strength. If you are an athlete or work out regularly, body-weight exercises are a great addition to round out your training by targeting muscles your other workouts miss and to help prevent overall injury. Body-weight exercises can seamlessly tailor to your fitness level and needs.
There are many ways to incorporate body-weight training into your routine or try new workouts specific to body-weight training. Some popular types of body-weight training are Tabata, HIIT, and circuit training. But all you really need to get started is a few strength training exercises, such as squats, lunges, situps, pushups, planks, and step-ups. The key to finding success with body-weight training is consistency through smooth and controlled movements that you do repetitions of a certain number or for a certain amount of time.