4 Bodyweight Workouts You Should Add to Your Routine

Who needs treadmills, barbells, and a slate of resistance machines when you’ve got your body weight and gravity to help you get in the best shape of your life? Many exercisers assume they need fancy equipment in order to burn body fat, build lean muscle, and improve their overall fitness. Nonsense! Bodyweight workouts can do all of those things, often with only the most basic equipment or no equipment at all.

Who Should Try a Bodyweight Workout?

A bodyweight workout program is an excellent idea for a variety of different people, including:

  • New exercisers who don’t feel comfortable using free weights and gym equipment
  • Older exercisers who want to protect their joints
  • Exercisers who want a great at-home workout when they’re on the road or can’t make it to the gym
  • Exercisers who want to try a different workout style

The truth is that any type of exerciser can get a great workout relying only on bodyweight movements. Even if you love hitting the free weights or sprinting on the treadmill, you should still consider a bodyweight workout every once in a while, just to spice things up. If you worry that a bodyweight workout won’t be challenging enough, then you just haven’t tried the right type of workout!

How to Develop a Bodyweight Workout Program

Some of the most popular exercise modalities can be easily applied to bodyweight exercises. A few of these styles may call for equipment, but for the most part they all rely heavily on good ol’ gravity.

The best bodyweight workouts we recommend are:

  • Pilates
  • HIIT bodyweight training
  • Plyometrics
  • Suspension training (also known as TRX)

If you aren’t sure how to get started with any of these modalities, one of the best ways to test them out is through a group fitness class. In a class environment, an instructor can guide you through the exercises, correct poor form, and give you different modifications if certain exercises are too hard or too easy. As we look at each of these bodyweight workout programs, we’ll also suggest some companion classes you can find at a variety of EōS Fitness locations.

If you’d like a little more one-on-one support as you begin a bodyweight workout program (or any type of workout program), it’s never a bad idea to invest in an experienced personal trainer!

Pilates

What Is It?

Pilates can be a great option for those just starting to or coming back into exercising who are looking for a “gentle” way to add fitness into their lives. Just don’t confuse “gentle” with “easy.” Pilates focuses on performing slow, precise movements that target the body’s core, meaning your abs, hips, back, and inner and outer thighs. Your core is the foundation of your body, so keeping it strong can help you improve your overall quality of life.

One important thing to note is that Pilates classes are often divided into two categories. “Mat classes” feature few, if any, pieces of equipment and students perform bodyweight movements on a padded mat. “Reformer classes” feature the reformer, a large piece of equipment with straps and springs that can add resistance to the movements. Those interested in bodyweight workouts should seek out mat classes.

What Are the Benefits?

Pilates is designed to help improve core strength, core endurance, concentration, breathing, and control. A study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that eight weeks of Pilates improved ab strength endurance, balance, and flexibility.

What Are Some Pilates Exercises?

Five popular Pilates exercises include:

  • Leg circles
  • The one hundred
  • Criss-cross crunches
  • Scissor kicks
  • Pendulums

Best EōS Fitness Classes to Try

  • Pilates
  • Pop Pilates®
  • Yoga & Pilates
  • Piyo®
  • Les Mills BODYFLOW®

HIIT Bodyweight Workout

What Is It?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is not for the faint of heart, but it does offer incredible results and short workout times for those who are willing to put in the effort. As the name implies, HIIT workouts are all about intensity. The idea is to perform a set of movements at full (or near full) intensity for a short amount of time. If you can talk during your workout, you aren’t working hard enough!

The beauty of HIIT is that it can be applied to a wide variety of movements and it works especially well with bodyweight movements.

 What Are the Benefits?

HIIT workouts will make you suffer, but enthusiasts believe the benefits are worth the effort. By pushing yourself to your limit with each exercise, you will power up your metabolism during your workout, helping you burn many more calories when compared with a slower, more moderate workout. The workouts also tend to be short, a great option for busy exercisers who can’t spend two hours in the gym. The biggest benefit of HIIT, however, happens long after the workout is over: The super intensity of HIIT workouts creates an oxygen deficit in your muscles. As a result, your body pulls more oxygen during your recovery. This high EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) means your body will continue burning calories and fat for many hours after your HIIT workout is complete.

What Are Some HIIT Exercises?

You can put together a bodyweight HIIT routine using almost any bodyweight movement. Try three rounds of:

  • 30 pushups
  • 30 seconds of air squats
  • 50 sit-ups
  • 30 seconds of jumping lunges
  • 30 jumping pull-ups
  • 30 seconds of mountain climbers

Best EōS Fitness Classes to Try

  • HITT
  • Les Mills GRIT™ Athletic
  • Les Mills GRIT™ Cardio
  • Les Mills BODYATTACK™
  • High Fitness®

 

Plyometrics

Plyometrics is your ticket to power and strength. Its exercises focus on using the stretch and contraction sequence of your muscle fibers to generate gobs of explosiveness. In other words, it can help you generate the maximum force in a minimum amount of time.

Plyometrics can be a little intimidating for new exercisers, especially since more advanced movements can incorporate boxes and platforms. However, there are plenty of bodyweight movements for beginners that don’t require any equipment.

What Are the Benefits?

Plyometrics is all about helping you dial up your power and explosiveness. That makes it an excellent fitness modality for anyone who wants to improve in their sport of choice. It can help soccer players zig and zag, football players sprint down the field, or tennis players leap to return a sizzling serve. Because it relies on a lot of jumping exercises, plyometrics can also improve overall body coordination and agility.

What Are Some Plyometric Exercises?

Beginning exercisers can try out plyometrics with a few sets of:

  • Jump roping
  • Broad jumps
  • Vertical jumps
  • Clapping pushups
  • Jumping squats

Best EōS Fitness Classes to Try

  • Les Mills GRIT™ PLYO

 

Suspension Training (TRX®)

Have you ever been to the gym and noticed two straps hanging from the ceiling or attached to a tall piece of fitness equipment? Suspension training, also commonly known as TRX, was developed by a Navy SEAL in 1997. Since those days, suspension training has become one of the hottest new fitness modalities in the industry. The suspension trainers let you perform a whole host of unique and challenging movements that utilize gravity to make each exercise doubly challenging. For example, you can put your toes through the straps and perform push-ups with your feet suspended just above the floor.

The Benefits of Suspension Training

Using the suspension trainers is a unique and exciting way to isolate and work all the different muscle groups of your body. Suspending different parts of your body or using the straps to swing your body will force you to hone balance and coordination. In this way, suspension training builds muscle endurance and improves balance, coordination, and stabilization. It’s also a great option for anyone who wants to protect their joints.

What Are Some Suspension Training Exercises?

Most of your favorite bodyweight exercises can be re-imagined using the suspension training system. Some of the most popular exercises are:

  • Pikes
  • Suspension lunges
  • Chest-press
  • Pistol squats
  • Running man
  • Inverted rows

Gravity Is Your Friend

Sometimes the best exercise equipment is gravity. Now that you know some of the best bodyweight workouts, you can challenge yourself in a new way and get fit anywhere. Find an EōS Fitness near you and sign up for any of the recommended classes—they’re a great way to try out these different exercise styles and to see if bodyweight workouts are a good match for you. 

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