Be Your Own Machine: Why You Should Choose Bodyweight Training Over Machines
Don't take the easy way out. Be your own machine and use bodyweight training to unlock your true fitness potential.
The fitness industry wants you to be confused.
They want you that way because the more information that's out there, the more likely you will be to spend money on new machines, gym memberships and personal trainers.
In this modern age of instant access to nearly unlimited information, you can educate yourself enough to develop an understanding of what fitness routine works best for you.
First, tune out all of the misinformation that's out there.
The Simplest Answer is Most Often Correct
When it comes to fitness, simplicity really is the ultimate sophistication. What can be more simple than using your own bodyweight to exercise? Learn the basic movements that every human should be doing: push-ups, pull-ups, squats and burpees. All four can be done in your living room, bedroom, hotel room, on a beach or anywhere else you wish. No gym membership required. Add in a kettlebell/barbell/dumbbell over time if you wish and you have all you need. If you want to run, go outside. You don't need a treadmill and you definitely don't need an infomercial machine.
Focus on what you're accomplishing while working out. Are you getting stronger or faster? If the answer is no, then reevaluate what you're doing.
Compound movements like push-ups and squats are never a waste of time because you know that you're developing full body strength with them. What are you gaining from spending an hour on the elliptical? Do you really need to balance on a ball while you do a squat? There's nothing functional about that and you're not improving your body's ability to physically perform. That should be the goal of any workout.
Do you think you're getting a great workout while you're on the elliptical? The sad truth is that you're probably not. While some exercise is better than none, I'd rather see people get the maximum return for their time spent working out and it's not going to be found on machines. Treadmills, ellipticals and the rest of the machines that you find in many hotel gyms may seem like a great option. That's because they're easier to use. They do some of the work for you, employ unnatural movement paths and are not functional.
Don't take the easy way out.
Try bodyweight training or sprinting instead for far better results and in less time.
Using your own weight as resistance will build strength and burn fat.
It doesn't require weights or machines so you can do it anywhere (perfect for anyone who travels a lot).
The primary benefit of bodyweight movements are that several muscle groups work together. The lack of isolation causes the need for multiple muscle groups to work together to properly perform the movement.
So doing a push-up, for example, requires the chest, shoulders, triceps, abs, obliques, back, and glutes to all work together to lower your body to the floor and to properly get you back into the up position. This triggers a metabolic response that will cause your body to burn calories long after your workout has ended (unlike the elliptical).
Bodyweight movements also have tremendous carryover to everyday life activities.
Performing squats will improve your mechanics getting up from a chair. Things like posture and muscular imbalances will improve. You will strengthen your muscles and joints, leading to less likelihood of injury. Compare that to the elliptical, where little to no joint or muscle strengthening occurs.
As you get better and progress with bodyweight movements, you can add a weighted vest or hold a dumbbell or kettlebell for increased resistance. There are also countless variations to increase difficulty, including incorporating unilateral (one-arm or one-leg) movements or changing leverage by elevating your feet during push-ups, for example.
You can't go wrong with the basic movements. Master the push-up, pull-up, squat, glute bridge and burpee and you'll have all your bases covered.
Let's not kid ourselves. Treadmills are miserable.
There's something far more physicallyand psychologically fulfilling about getting outside and running full speed.
Everybody should be sprinting. I still find it hard to believe that more people haven't realized the unbelievable benefits of sprints. Combine that with the fact that sprinting for shorter time is more effective than more time doing steady state cardio on a treadmill or elliptical. I suspect that the reason many people avoid sprints is because they're hard. That's the point. Anything worth doing means pain, effort and difficulty. Sprinting will improve your heart and lung health, improve circulation and cognition, boost metabolism and optimize hormonal performance.
Unlike steady state cardio, sprinting will help you build muscle. This means even more fat burned if you're trying to lose weight. Perhaps best of all, it can be done in less time than running for distance or jumping on the elliptical.
Here's an example of how to incorporate sprinting into your training.
Find a spot where you can run sprints up to 50 yards in one direction. Grass, hills or a track work best. Perform a quick warmup and then set a timer. Run sprints for the entirety of the time established; 10 to 20 minutes being ideal. Start with about 50% intensity and gradually increase until you are sprinting at 95%. Bring it back down to 60% for the last few sprints. Rest only in the time it takes you to walk back to your starting point.
The bottom line?
If you're going to take anything away from this, remember that the point of training should be to get faster and/or stronger. Don't go to the gym and move around just for the sake of moving.
Work towards them.
Always keep progressing.
Want to learn about staying fit with bodyweight exercises?
Cover Photo Credit: Crossfit.com