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Posted 19 May 2011 by Josh Hewett

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Bodyweight Training

Many strength training and bodybuilding enthusiasts believe that working out using body weight exercises is ineffective for getting bigger and stronger. In my experience this is not the case. Certainly, lifting heavy weights using compound movements with the right intensity is an integral part of becoming a cut and jacked, but if you ignore the benefits of bodyweight training it’s at your own peril!
Every movement we make involves using and controlling our own bodyweight in order to perform the activity. In order to excel at any form of exercise or physical endeavor, you need to become efficient moving your body through space in as many ways as possible, related to the activity in question. In fact, I would argue that you should be able to handle your own body weight in any given exercise movement before adding load. For example, if you can’t perform pushups or deep bodyweight squats using proper form, you have no business attempting a heavy bench press or squatting with a loaded bar on your back.
Even after you have established a solid strength base, body weight movements should still remain a staple of your strength training program. There are a number of distinct benefits that make these types of exercises advantageous, including:

1. NMA

Increased Neural Muscular Activation (NMA) of the muscles involved. This increased activation of your nervous system leads to greater muscular adaptation, making it a very productive form of training.

2. Exercise Economy.

Because bodyweight training typically involves compound, multi-joint exercises that challenge several muscle groups at once, you will get more “bang for your buck” for the time you are investing in your workout.

3. Joint Stability and Muscular Balance.

Because bodyweight training targets major muscle groups in an integrated manner, the smaller stabilizer muscles will also be challenged. This type of training also usually involves stabilizing your body without the support of a bench or a machine, which in turn will develop greater joint stability. Your core muscles are also involved in bracing to provide a strong, stable base from which to initiate movement of the rest of the body.

4. Convenience.

Most bodyweight exercises require minimal equipment and be performed almost anywhere. No gym is necessary. This makes it ideal for those with a busy schedule or for individuals who travel a lot. Bodyweight movements can be done indoors using regular household items, as well as outdoors on monkey bars, park benches, trees, etc...

5. Cost effectiveness

Because no gym is needed you save money on those ridiculous membership fees or expensive home exercise equipment.
Although you don’t actually need any equipment at all, if you want to take your bodyweight workouts to the next level, there are some basic training accessories you might like to pick up.

These include:

  • An overhead pull up bar (door mounted or otherwise)
  • Suspension straps such as TRX or Jungle Gym
  • Parallel dip bars
  • Ab wheel or Power Wheel core trainer
  • Adjustable weighted vest

You can perform an extremely challenging full body workout by including these basic training implements! As you can see, body weight training provides a convenient, efficient, effective, and low-cost method of strength training. If you want to get cut and jacked, I suggest including this type of training in your regular exercise program.
Stay strong!

Written by Josh Hewett

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