Consider doing some body weight exercises to help build that stronger body because:
- The body will adapt quickly to them because it is a reasonable load. I don’t know if this is true but I’ve always found that I gain strength very quickly with body weight exercises.
- They are very functional – the strength generally lends itself to real activities.
- They do not cause undo stress to the body because the movements are natural.
- They are difficult to do at the beginning. Yeah, but anything that you have not done before is difficult to do at the beginning.
- Most people don’t and can’t do them, probably because they are hard and people tend to shy away from difficult tasks.
- They add variety to your strength training workouts.
- They can improve symmetry and will balance strength. Consider one-legged squats, they guarantee that you work each leg equally.
Pull-ups are, in my opinion, the best body weight exercise that you can do because they engage many of the muscles of the back, as well as working the biceps and the rear deltoids. They require a lot of strength to do and there are a number of different variations that allow you to shift the focus onto different parts of the back and body. For example, narrow grip will work the middle back, the biceps and the rear deltoids more, wide grip focus the load on the lats to help build back width and off level pull-ups, while a more sport specific move, will focus more effort one side of the body.
Other body weight exercises you can try:
- Dips – these really work the triceps and chest muscles.
- Body row – great for working the middle back and the rear deltoids
- Push-ups – an often-overlooked classic that works the chest muscles very effectively. Try placing the hands closer together to increase the load on the triceps and middle chest.
- Various single legged squat movements – if you are concerned about being able to do these, consider the movement of getting into and out of a car as proof that you can.
- Front and side planking moves – great of building core strength
- Leg raises (hanging, lying, Roman chair) – fantastic for building lower ab strength
- Various balancing moves – I’ve found the starfish position were you are standing on one leg and have your arms and other leg full extended to really tax my legs and lower back.
Supersets: You can also benefit from adding body weight exercise to weighted movements to create challenging supersets:
- Narrow grip push-ups finish off a set of machine flies to complete chest failure.
- Hanging leg raises complement weighted crunches nicely.
- Dips and pull-ups can be done together for a great push pull set that will work the entire upper body.
Next time you’re looking for a new challenge, improved results or a change to your workout routine try giving some of these body weight exercises a try.