Although you cannot tell some people that fancy equipment and gym facilities are not needed for weight training, it is very true. You can accomplish weight training with just the weight of your body! If you cannot handle the weight you have attached to you already, it may be detrimental to try lifting dumbbells and other similar items. Using what are called “Body Weight Exercises” can, in the long run, make for a more effective and healthier alternative to more common types of weight training.
Some of the well known body weight exercises are the pull-up, the push-up, and the sit-up. Think of the last time you attempted one of these body weight exercises. If you are honest with yourself, you can admit that they were quite difficult. Lifting and moving your own weight can provide you with perfectly good and effective weight training.
However, there are some aspects of body weight exercises you should be aware of. Knowing about the “laws” of body weight training will help you to better understand and utilize the exercises, providing you with the best workout.
These “laws” are:
1. When you increase the length between the target muscles and the object you are lifting, you will be weaker. This applies to any kind of weight training, including when you use body weight exercises. Here is one example that illustrates the “law”:
a. Try doing a sit-up with your hands stretched high above your head. Now try a sit-up with your hands held behind your head. Then do a sit up with your hands folded across your chest. Feel the difference?
Although you have not changed the body weight you are moving in any way, you have increase the length between the muscles being worked and the weight being lifted.
2. When you move a greater distance, you will work a greater amount of muscle. Think of the physics equation Work = Force X Distance. Force is the weight of your body, so the greater distance that travels, the greater amount of muscle you will inevitably build. Since you cannot technically increase the force of your workout when doing body weight exercises (unless you intentionally gain weight), increasing the distance traveled will boost your workout to a new level.
3. Muscle involvement is heightened when you decrease the elastic energy you build up. Basically, this law is just stating that if you bounce, you will reduce the work your muscles have to accomplish when doing body weight exercises. Here is an example that will illustrate this “law”:
a. Try doing quick push-ups, allowing your body to “bounce” between the downward motion and the upward motion. Now, slow down the push-up, keeping the motion at an even flow all the way down and back up. Finally, pause at the bottom and at the top of every push up.
When you eliminate that bounce from the body weight exercises you perform, you will make the muscles work harder.
4. When you move in two directions, it is always more effective than moving in one direction. The body moves on three specific planes:
a. The sagittal plane, which consists of up and down and front to back motions.
b. The frontal plane, which consists of side to side motions.
c. The transverse plane, which consists of rotational motions.
Most people do plenty of body weight exercises using the sagittal plane and the frontal plane. Exercises like squats, lunges and side bends work on those planes. The transverse plane sometimes gets forgotten, even though it is used everyday in something as easy as walking! Make sure when you use any body weight exercises that you work on all these planes for a better overall work-out.
5. Your muscles will be forced to work harder when you have less contact with the floor! Here is an example that will illustrate this “law”:
a. Do a push-up on flat hands. Change to doing a push-up on your fists. Last, do a push-up on your fingertips! They get harder as you decrease the amount of your body touching the floor!
When your muscles have to kick in to stabilize the body as well as doing the body weight exercises, they will get a more complete work-out. Some muscles that may not have initial been activated will also be required to exercise, as well.
Keep all of these in mind when you create a routine of body weight exercises. However, remember to consult with a health care professional before beginning any exercise regimen!