Free weights have long been the king of the strength training industry. Recently however, there have been many fitness buffs who have decided to ditch free weights and machines in exchange for body-weight training. Body-weight training is quite appropriately, strength training exercises that use only the weight of the body for resistance. These exercises includes such old standbys as push-ups, bridges, bear crawls, squats, crab walks, and the list goes on and on.
One reason for the shift to body-weight training is monetary. Gym memberships are getting more and more expensive and many people just aren’t willing or can’t afford to fork out the cost of membership fees. Creating a home gym using free weights and machines also represents a major financial investment. Using body-weight exercises does not require a gym membership or fancy machines, but rather only one’s own body and gravity. The main cost associated with body-weight training involves buying a book that outlines a good program. Many good books are available for less than $30.
A second reason that body-weight training is so popular is convenience. With body-weight exercises you don’t have to make any trips to the gym. There are no other people you have to divide time with on a machine. Unlike large and heavy weights, body-weight training provides a totally portable workout system that is with you wherever you go, no packing required. This portability is a huge bonus for those who travel often, or those who want to get in a workout during breaks at work.
Although the cost and convenience of body-weight training is very appealing, the main reason that people give for the switch is that it just works better. Many people find that they can get in a more effective workout in a fraction of the time using body-weight exercises. One of the main selling points of this form of training is the ability to build functional strength. Functional strength refers to strength that can be used in an athletic motion, such as throwing a shot put. Many critics of weight training claim that weights may build large muscles, but that weight room built strength doesn’t always transfer into functional strength.
Another bonus in performance is the ability to train both strength and flexibility at the same time using body-weight exercises. The bridge is a perfect example of the versatility of the training. The bridge provides a resistance stimulus to almost every part of the body, while at the same time dramatically increasing the flexibility of the torso. The ability to train both strength and flexibility at the same time make body-weight training especially effective in training for sports like wrestling and the martial arts, where both flexibility and strength are integral components.
Gyms have there place and in no way am I saying that training in a gym is bad, but body-weight training may be an effective training modality based on the cost, convenience, and results. If you feel that your progress with weights isn’t going to plan, or you just want a change, body-weight training may be exactly what you need to revitalize your workouts, and keep you motivated and in shape.
Before starting any exercise program, always be sure to first consult your physician.