Bodyweight training is booming – from classic pushups to freeletics to spectacular calisthenics workouts.
Bodyweight training is becoming increasingly popular. Outdoor training is booming and trends like Freeletics offer a lot of change for little money. Especially when traveling, it is often helpful to exercise with your own body weight. Surely you would like to know whether you can build muscle at all with bodyweight training. In this article you will learn everything about exercising with your own body weight.
What is bodyweight training?
Bodyweight training is understood to mean “training without equipment”, in which training is only carried out with the help of one’s own body weight.
The exercises do without dumbbells and strength machines and the resistance against which the muscles work is generated by your own body weight.
What can you achieve with bodyweight training?
What is special about most weight exercises is that several body regions are inevitably trained.
This improves the interplay of the musculoskeletal system and the coordination skills, as well as the muscles are better supplied with blood and oxygenated.
Bodyweight training offers the ideal combination of strength and endurance training.
Short breaks keep the heart rate high and burn fat optimally.
Intensive interval training will boost your metabolism after just a few minutes.
The high afterburn effect ensures that you burn calories even hours after the workout.
Many simple exercises activate the so-called core (core muscles), which is responsible for the core and deep muscles.
This not only defines your stomach, but also ensures an upright posture and less back pain.
In addition, you improve your balance and trunk stability and can sustainably build muscle.
“Hannibal for King” from New York shows which results can be achieved with bodyweight training.
Calisthenics as the supreme discipline of bodyweight training
Calisthenics = bodyweight training with many elements from gymnastics and acrobatics.
The body workout calisthenics is considered the kings discipline of body control. The fitness trend, which originated in the USA, has been enjoying increasing popularity in German-speaking countries for several years.
It is about intensive weight training, which is carried out with the help of bars, bars and other training equipment.
There are already countless impressive videos on YouTube, in which the athletes show incredible body control and acrobatic skill.
Bodyweight training vs. Weight training
As sensible as bodyweight training may be, there are some disadvantages compared to pure weight training with weights:
- Strength training trains more than just muscles
Your tendons and your bones are moved by your muscles.
Through strength training, you train all three structures.
Strong bones lead to strong muscles.
- Dumbbell training more suitable for beginners
Bodyweight training is technically more demanding and the progression is very strong. You can only increase the intensity by increasing the lever, angle, execution speed or training volume.
Mostly, however, the level of difficulty increases significantly.
The transition from the normal squat to the extremely demanding one-leg squat, the so-called Pistol Squad, serves as an example.
With weight training, you can easily increase resistance with the addition of weights and thus set an optimal training stimulus without you being under or overwhelmed.
- Dumbbell training provides accurate feedback on your progress
You can see your progress very well on the bench press by getting the same number of reps with more weight the next week.
If you want to change the intensity during bodyweight training, for example by changing the lever or angle, you may not be able to reproduce it exactly in the next training session and therefore not easily measure progress.
By increasing the number of repetitions, you switch from strength to endurance.
- Bodyweight training makes it easier for you to reach a performance plateau
If you want to increase body weight exercises, this is often associated with increased coordinative demands on the exercise. Increasing the intensity is important to set a new muscle growth stimulus.
As soon as you have done 10 pull-ups, it will be difficult to increase the intensity without additional weights. Many athletes therefore use a weighted vest .
- In bodyweight training, muscle groups can usually never be trained in isolation
This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage, but performing an exercise often depends on the weakest muscle.
The main advantages of bodyweight training are:
You don’t need any equipment
You can do it anywhere
It doesn’t cost you money
Most bodyweight exercises are very functional because they mainly train movements
How often body weight training?
The fact that the muscles are not isolated as in dumbbell training can in principle be exercised more often.
Many Calisthenics athletes state that they also train daily, which is also possible for experienced athletes because their bodies have already adapted to the stresses.
However, it is better, especially for beginners, to give the body the necessary rest for 1-2 days.
Exercising more often or more intensely does not necessarily mean making faster progress.
Bodyweight training exercises
There are countless bodyweight exercises with many different variations.
Here is a small selection of the most prominent exercises, some of which you may be familiar with:
Bodyweight training for beginners
Most exercises have different variations in difficulty. As a beginner, you should start with the easy one.
More bodyweight exercises
The video shows 8 very effective bodyweight exercises, which we briefly explain below:
You pull yourself up by the pull-up bar or another object until your chin reaches over the bar.
They mainly train the back, shoulders, arms and chest.
- Chin up knee up
Similar to the pull-ups only that the knees are also pulled up, which perfectly trains the abdominal muscles.
- Slick Floor Bridge Curls
You make a bridge and your arms are stretched sideways on the floor.
The floor should be slippery so that you can slide your feet forward from the 90 ° angle as seen in the video.
The exercise trains your glutes and lower abs.
- Levitation Squats
By angling your leg behind your body you get more stabilization and thus the one-legged squats are great for training the legs.
- Divebomber pushups
Lower your hips on all fours and shift your weight forward until your chest almost touches the floor.
Then push yourself up with your arms so that the arms are stretched.
Hold the position briefly and then go back to the starting position.
- Mule kicks
Support yourself on your arms and kick back. The exercise trains the shoulder area strongly.
Special variant of the burpees. You rotate your body to one side and step through with your lower leg.
- Front lever
In this calisthenics exercise, the body hangs from the bar with its back to the floor, stretched horizontally.
The pelvis is tilted backwards, the belly tense and the hips stretched.
The legs are also stretched and are moved upwards.
Bodyweight training plan
It is particularly important for beginners to ensure correct execution and to have body tension during all exercises.
The principle of quality before quantity applies.
In addition, a stable torso and correct posture are essential.
To avoid sore muscles, it is important to warm up well beforehand.
If your muscles are still cold and stiff, you risk severe muscle soreness and pain in the days after your workout.
You will find an optimal training plan for bodyweight training with detailed exercises in the following books.
Fit without equipment – exercise with your own body weight
The classic for bodyweight training and probably one of the best-selling fitness books ever.
Mark Lauren describes the main bodyweight exercises sorted by muscle groups and with increasing difficulty.
You will also find a varied training program for beginners and advanced.
Fit without equipment for women – exercise with your own body weight
Fit ohneGerätefür Frauen is a book for women on bodyweight training with simple exercises specially adapted to their needs and training goals.
Bodyweight Training App – freeletics Bodyweight Training
There is probably no one who has anything to do with fitness and has never heard of Freeletics .
Freeletics is an app and was developed in Munich in 2012 by sports scientists and personal trainers.
There are various workout variants aimed at training with your own body weight.
Freeletics has created a large community with over 4 million participants worldwide, and the trend is rising.
It combines the following elements:
High-intensity interval training
Running and sprinting units
The basic idea behind it is good, but from a health point of view it is not suitable for everyone.
The main criticism is that you are on your own and therefore the execution cannot be controlled.
Unclean designs quickly affect the joints and the likelihood of pain or even consequential damage is very high.
There is a conceptual time lag, which can be very frustrating, especially for beginners.
The concept with the fastest possible implementation is also questionable. It’s about getting points.
The faster you can do the exercises, the more you get.
Sooner or later your body tension will suffer as more attention is paid to quantity rather than quality.
Conclusion bodyweight training
As already described, it is always possible to build muscle only with bodyweight training.
However, it is not the fastest way to build muscle, because weights can usually achieve faster results due to the higher stimulus and the optimal load.
A combination of dumbbell and bodyweight training is ideal, since bodyweight training not only improves the coordination skills, but also the core stability, which is so important for many exercises with weights.
But you may also be traveling a lot or just want to learn a few new tricks, such as a planche or a lever.
Then you should definitely take a closer look at bodyweight training and watch our videos.