Using Your Own Body to Work Out

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Despite the plethora of exercise equipment out there, you might be surprised to learn that you can get a great workout and achieve your fitness goals simply by using your own body.

Bodyweight exercises, or calisthenics, have been around for thousands of years—much longer than barbells or treadmills.

For some reason, many people think they’re inferior to using weights or machines. But that’s hardly the case.

Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises

Body weight exercises can offer a number of benefits that traditional exercise equipment can’t. For example:

    • They help you develop balance, strength and flexibility at the same time. Using only your body requires a little more coordination and agility than using, for example, exercise machines.
    • There’s a much lower risk of injury doing bodyweight exercises compared to using free weights or machines. Since you’re not using added weight, you’re less likely to strain a muscle or make an awkward movement.
    • Bodyweight exercises give you the ability to train anywhere, anytime, without having to go to the gym or buy thousands of dollars worth of exercise equipment.
    • Bodyweight exercises allow you to tailor the degree of difficulty to your level of fitness. For example, if you find regular push-ups to be too easy, you can adjust the position of your arms to make the exercise more difficult or work slightly different muscles.
    • Bodyweight exercises are more sport-specific. If you’re training for sports, body weight exercises allow you to more closely mimic the actions of your sport, which gives you a more specific stimulus for the muscles you use.

What Exercises Should I Use?

To get you started, here are a few of the basics.

    • Push-ups: Everyone knows how to do push-ups, but did you know that they are a great core exercise as well as giving you a great upper body workout? When done with proper form, your abs and lower back get a great workout stabilizing your trunk. Think of it as a two-for-one deal.
    • The Plank: Maintain a prone position on the floor while supporting your body with just your elbows and toes. Hold it for as long as you can.
    • Burpees: From a standing position, drop to the floor in a push-up position, kicking your legs out behind you. Do a push-up and then jump to your feet, jumping as high as you can. This whole body exercise strengthens your chest, shoulders, core muscles, and your quad and calf muscles.

Using your body to work out opens up new ways of thinking about exercise and your body. Most importantly, it lets you focus on fitness without needing a gym membership or a bunch of expensive equipment.

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