Bodyweight Basics

Bodyweight Basics and Why It Needs to Be in Your Bag of Tricks

Nothing beats a barbell for building size and strength, but there are times when you should think outside the bar. Sometimes your body is all you need. This is the foundation for mastering bodyweight basics.

When to do bodyweight work

  • Traveling. When you’re on the road, it can be tough to get a good workout in. Sure, some hotels have gyms, but these are often little more than a room with two treadmills and a stationary bike. And sometimes you won’t be in a gym, but rather staying with family or friends.
  • Recovering from injury. Bodyweight work can be great for getting back into the swing of things after a layoff. Bodyweight work can be done to target damaged areas after they’ve been sufficiently rehabbed, or done to maintain strength in other areas without inducing too much overall stress.
  • On a budget. If you maxed out your credit card and can’t afford to go to the gym this month, don’t let that be an excuse to neglect your fitness goals.
  • Pressed for time. While a bodyweight workout can be long and intense, it’s possible to get a good one in a relatively short time. Plus, since it can be done anywhere, you can skip time-consuming activities like transportation to the gym, long warm ups and wait periods for your favorite machine.
  • Working through plateaus. You might think of doing push ups as a step backward from doing heavy bench work, but push up work can help develop carryover strength for the bench. Ditto with other bodyweight basics counterparts to your favorite lifts.

There is a staggering amount of variation when it comes to bodyweight basics exercises. Let’s look at some of the broad categories.

  • Squats. It doesn’t get more basic or accessible than this. Just put that butt to the ground and stand back up. To make it harder, hold a milk jug or whatever you can find out in front of you. Alternatively, you can start to work up to single leg variations, like the airborne lunge or the dreaded pistol.
  • Push ups. If not for that fact that it’s hard to load, the push up would be superior to the bench press. It comes in many flavors: explosive, clapping, feet-elevated, dynamic tension/slow negative and more. It also works will with simple accessories like resistance bands. You can even ask a friend to sit on your back for a fun challenge. And if you change your body angle enough, you can do handstand push ups for a killer shoulder exercise.

Once you incorporate these bodyweight basics tips into your workout at time, you'll start noticing incredible results. The list goes on and on, and we haven’t even looked at what’s possible if you have access to a chin up bar. Revisit bodyweight basics from time to time and you’re sure to reap the benefits.