Many athletes (as well as the casual exerciser), feel that they can get absolutely no benefit from bodyweight training. They feel it’s too easy for them. But i feel this is a big mistake because bodyweight exercises are essential for training athletes, as well as help exercisers of all skill levels burn fat, build strong muscles and improve fitness. Lets look at some things advanced athletes and regular exercisers can do to make their workouts even more intense using bodyweight training.
Here is what happens: We have been brainwashed to believe physical training is resistance Training (weight lifting) and Cardio. We do sets and reps of a certain exercise to target a certain muscle group with certain rest periods. Then after we are done treating the body like a bunch of parts, we do some aerobic cardio to improve the heart and lungs. So, athletes think that doing a workout with only the resistance of their own body is too easy because there is no added resistance. And here’s the thing… if you are only getting the inflated muscles of bodybuilders, they are probably right.
However, I believe the body should be trained as one complete unit. The entire body, all the muscles as well as the heart and lungs should be challenged at the same time. The lines between resistance training and cardio training need to be blurred. I would ask the athletes, “Is your sport done in a compartmentalized way with robotic actions where strength and cardiorespiratory endurance are separate? Or, is your entire body needed to work in unison in order to excel at your sport?” Bodyweight training is great for switching between strength exercises and “cardio” exercises seamlessly… which is an excellent way to train.
Plus, exercise is really a question of movement. And there are two types of movement: moving your own body through space, and moving objects through space. I would argue that for most athletes, being able to control and move your own body around with strength, balance, flexibility and coordination is going to help your perform better. And for the regular exerciser, bodyweight training is important to prepare your for the physical and mental challenges you face in your everyday life.
My recommendation is to blur the lines between strength training and cardiorespiratory training in the same bodyweight workout. For example, complete a circuit of push up, air squats and crunches as fast as possible without rest, and then do 50 jumping jacks before repeating the circuit 2-5 times… and repeat for 20 minutes without rest. This type of bodyweight workout targets all your muscles as well as your heart and lungs and trains the body to work as one complete unit.
I encourage you to add bodyweight training to your overall workout program regardless of whether you are a high-performance athlete or just a regular exerciser trying to improve fitness and control your weight. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how effective bodyweight training can be. And when your heart is pounding, your breathing is hard and you are laying on the ground in a pool of your own sweat, ask yourself… “Are bodyweight exercises too easy?”