I get asked a lot about the benefits of bodyweight exercise vs weights because more and more people don’t have time to hit the gym. Because of this, they are abandoning the big box workout facilities and looking for other workouts that can be done closer to home. If this is you, I’m going to answer if bodyweight exercises be able to provide you with the results you are after.
Over the last dozen years or so I have made the switch to 95% bodyweight only training for a number of reasons and I’m not alone. Here are just some of the benefits of bodyweight exercises.
- Location Free
- Time Efficient
- Less Expensive
- Feels Easier On Injuries
- Real world application of strength and mobility
I’ll expand more on these below.
During my time in the military, we were often either in the woods with nothing around us or stuck in an Atco trailer while on tour of duty. In either case, we needed workouts that work but our location and time available where out of our control. We had to get and stay in top shape where we were and in the time we had available. There would be no 45 minute drives to the gym to get stuck in traffic, snow or what not. Bodyweight training is perfect for this.
For those of you that are short on cash like I was when I enlisted in the military, then a gym membership is just not in the cards. I had to pull money from my RRSP just to get a tooth brush and other toiletries required for my basic training morning kit inspection. Bodyweight training doesn’t cost you a cent.
As I started to have more time under my belt both age and training time wise, I realized that the accumulative stresses of weight training and linear movements from machines can rob you of flexibility. Once I devoted more of my time to bodyweight training in my quest for workouts that work, the aches and pains started going away. Soon I was doing things like getting down on the floor, looking in lower cupboards and changing tires in ways that used to cause me grief. No longer. When you train using your bodyweight, you get very good at using your body the way it was designed.
Eventually as with most guys, I started to settle down. I mean I stopped being a bouncer, no more competitive bodybuilding and I didn’t care if everyone was impressed by the size of my arms when I walked into a room. What matters to me now is, “Will I be able to have the energy and flexibility to run, play and climb when I’m 80?” “Will I be an old stiff man that can bench press 325 pounds or a young looking fella that can do handstand pushups and jump over a fence?” I knew which I wanted so I switched to bodyweight training full force.
These are only just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of bodyweight exercises vs weights, especially if you want to know how to work out at home. It’s an exciting and rewarding form of training that will get you results like you’ve never experienced. These are workouts that work for you regardless of your time constraints, stiff joints, budget or lack of exercise equipment.
But don’t believe just me – look at every basic training course of almost any military in the world. Look at the Navy Seals and The Canadian Military….
Why The Navy Seals And Canadian Military Use The Benefits Of Bodyweight Exercises And Calisthenics During Basic Training
I think the main reason the military and Navy Seals use a lot of Calisthenics workouts and bodyweight exercises in their basic training and all through the soldiers enlisted time are the same reasons that more and more civilians are discovering and using bodyweight training.
Let’s take a look at these benefits now:
- Any Location
- Any Time
- No Equipment Required
- Scalable To Physical Ability And Number Of Participants
- Results Can Be Applied To Real World Activity
Calisthenics can be used in any location since bodyweight exercises are the main component. This means there is little to no set up and so if there is any requirement for a workout, where ever you are will do just fine. This is of huge important to military and Navy Seals who are often on the move or in surroundings that do not have exercise equipment transported in yet or will never be.
Calisthenics can be done any time because of the same reasons I stated above. Bodyweight exercises do not require you to travel to a gym and there is no set up time when using your own body. Often, physical training takes second place to the time table of the actual job in the military so, it is fit in wherever there is a gap. With the exception of regular morning PT of course which brings me to point three.
Calisthenics workouts do not require any equipment when the circuits and group activity are based around the soldiers bodyweight. Because of this, the number of soldiers in the unit that are exercising is easily accommodated. It doesn’t matter if there is five or fifty when no benches, bars, or room needs to be taken into consideration. Which brings me to point four.
Calisthenics workouts and bodyweight exercise circuits are scalable to both the number of soldiers participating and their individual physical level of ability if that is something the instructor even cares to offer. For example pushups against wall, static holds in top position, full military pushups and clapping plyometric pushups.
This is important when it comes to APFT standards testing as well since many soldiers can be tested without concern for set up, number of equipment pieces available and traffic flow through the APFT testing.
Lastly, the results produced from Calisthenics come from the soldiers work with his own body. Because of this the soldier becomes better adept at handling his own bodyweight in the real world. This improves obstacle negotiation, distance work, joint mobility and stability and strength through varied planes of movement. All applicable and needed in the real world of combat the soldier requires. Seldom if ever is there a requirement for a soldier to lay on his back and push weight away from himself. If he does have to push someone off himself, they usually don’t remain rigid and are not caring enough to try and equally weight each hand.
If you have any more questions, let me know.
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