Earlier this year, I embarked on a challenge to do nothing but bodyweight training (BWT) for a solid month. I gave up my beloved bench press for push-ups and the heavy iron for suspension straps. I figured I would have a “light” month of easier lifting but I ended up emerging as a faster, stronger, leaner and healthier individual. Below are the 5 reasons why I now base my entire fitness program on bodyweight training!
#1. Bodyweight Training Can Be Pretty Hard Core
When I first started, I thought about bodyweight training (BWT) like most people probably do, which consists of light calisthenic warm-up style workouts that do little more than just get the blood flowing in preparation for a “real” workout. However, as I dug deeper into the culture of bodyweight exercise, I started to discover moves that made a 250 pound bench press seem easy. Things like muscle-ups, pistol squats and my own creation of rebel planks, rocked my body in ways I never knew possible and left me wondering if I really was as fit as I thought I was.
#2. Outdoor Workouts Are a Fantastic Luxury
Once I discovered how versatile bodyweight training (BWT) was, I started to search for the ideal places to train. I found these locations at parks and school playgrounds. With a little creativity, I discovered that a playground can be much more fun and versatile than any local gym. Plus I was in the fresh air, getting some sun and training barefoot. With a handful of playgrounds near where I live, it was like having a free 24 hour membership to 3-4 gyms that were never crowded and I could bring a dog to. It wasn’t long before I started spending more time on the local playground than I was in the actual gym!
#3. Bodyweight Workouts Are Crazy Functional
Being a fan of many athletic pursuits, I was amazed at how fast I was riding my mountain bike and how well my balance in Taekwon-Do improved during my month of body weight training. In fact, my athletic performance had improved more during my thirty days of bodyweight training than in the 10 years of weight training before that! I’m still working on figuring out exactly why, but one thing is for sure. The strength required for bodyweight training is often quite different from the strength required for free weights or machines and that type of strength has tremendous functional power.
#4. Bodyweight Training Fills Cracks & Weaknesses
Before I started my 30 day challenge, I had a few nagging aches and pains, not to mention some stiffness that accompanied me each morning. My chiropractor had identified some areas where I was too tight, some areas where I was too loose and some more areas where I was too weak. By the end of the 30 days, nearly every ache, pain and weakness was but a distant memory. A back issue I had been fighting for over two years just seemed to evaporate like a mud puddle after a summer storm and I never felt so great. It was like turning back the clock on my body and feeling 5-10 years younger!
#5. Most Bang For The Buck
Finally, it goes without saying that bodyweight training is practically free, it can be done almost anywhere and it can accommodate anyone from an 80-year-old sedentary grandmother to an Olympic caliber athlete. It requires little to no equipment and the time requirement is considerably less than traditional conditioning systems. With so many benefits going for it and such a low-cost of entry, it hardly makes sense not to include bodyweight training into a healthy lifestyle.
While I have gone back to using some basic free weights in my program, bodyweight training continues to be the meat and potatoes of my training. Each month, I discover myself reaching heights I never thought possible and I eagerly await the future to see what lies in store.