This year’s change in traditional-gym format has challenged us all, but I got to thinking recently as I renewed my CrossFit® trainer certification that perhaps, for the everyday, health-seeking athlete, that bodyweight exercise carries far more benefit than we give it credit for by focusing so heavily on strength-training with objects.
Here is the visual of CrossFit’s pyramid from the 2019 article “Theoretical Hierarchy of Development” (additional note on “controlling your own bodyweight” added by me):
Look carefully! Before manipulating the weight of external objects, the pyramid challenges us to coordinate and control our OWN BODYWEIGHT.
Can you get up off of the ground without external support?
How about a low chair or sofa?
Feel confident that you can push yourself up if you trip or fall?
Can you move your knees and shoulders through a full range of motion pain free?
Could you pull yourself up and out of any situation that you needed to?
These aren’t just issues for the seniors among us! I am 34 years old and already feel that long periods of either physically-demanding work or stagnation (like long car rides) effect my muscles and joints in a way that they didn’t in my 20s.
CrossFit’s explanation of why gymnastics before weightlifting says, “an athlete should first possess the strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, and agility to move his or her own body through many different body positions and movement combinations with sound mechanics and confidence,” before moving on to manipulate external objects.
Even if you could never put a 100# barbell over your head or deadlift 400#, would you consider yourself fit if you could push or pull up your bodyweight, squat below parallel, coordinate your body in various ways, and had flexible joints. I would!
What type of exercises should I do?
When we think of bodyweight movements, there are definitely some standard exercises that come to mind:
These movements are a great place to start building up your strength, range of motion, and muscle tone. They are also incredibly functional for progressing your body through movements that you should, ideally, be able to do unassisted.
These exercises can be mixed up into a basically unlimited variety of workouts and when you’re ready for increased challenge, there are always combination movements like burpees!
Will I really get more fit without weights?
YES! A resounding yes. Resistance has it’s time and place and weightlifting is fun, but if a lack of dumbbells are what’s holding you back from pursuing fitness and exercise as a regular habit – that stops right here.
Both cardiometabolic (run, bike, swim, row, jump rope) and gymnastics (bodyweight movements like sit ups, lunges, pull ups, and squats) will increase your heart rate, burn calories, and build muscle strength and tone. They will also increase the range of motion and resilience of your bones and joints so that if you do ever decide to implement weightlifting into your routine – you’ll be less likely to sustain an injury.
Bodyweight strength prepares you for a long and strong life, and makes you more life-proof in the process. Whether you dream of chasing sunsets or little ones, with increased fitness and body control you are less likely to experience illness, falls, or accidents. But when and if you do, your healthier and stronger body will be able to heal and restore more quickly.
If all that sounds great, but you don’t know where to start – that’s where we come it. Our custom training programs can be done from home and with no or minimal equipment. Really! You don’t have to invest in anything but yourself. And you’re worth it. Book a Free Intro here and let’s get started.