There are many fitness experts that think bodyweight exercise may not be as good as many other types of fitness training. But there is no reason that it can't offer some good benefits.
Here's a reasonable assumption: Most people nowadays want to have good strong, fit bodies. You feel better in every way when you know you're in good physical condition.
But what does it take to get in peak physical condition?
The facts are that most exercise equipment, especially weight training equipment isn't really expensive. But you don't need a gym; you do have the time; and it doesn't have to be hard work. It can be a lot of fun, whether you work by yourself or with a friend, or friends.
There are as many ways of developing your body using bodyweight exercise methods as there are of moving your muscles.
All help to build up a strong, hard, flexible body.
Bodyweight exercises can develop your body and you can have fun while doing it. It doesn't involve setting-up weights or using traditional weight lifting equipment or performing regular workouts at a gym. It's the "casual" way to physical fitness.
First, however, lets be clear that you understand that most types of bodyweight exercise training will not give you the traditional body builder type physique. But, when done properly, body weight exercise can keep you in remarkably good shape.
This bodyweight exercise method has been used, and is still being used, by some of the busiest, best-known people in America—movie and television stars, show-business people, athletes, corporation presidents.
What's more, you don't always need "the privacy of your own room," as the ads say. You can use this body weight exercise method, unnoticed, in the middle of a crowd. You can use it in a crowded elevator. Best of all, you don't have to set aside a special amount of time.
And now, what's this secret body weight exercise method?
It involves two things: simple muscle tension and taking advantage of brief seconds and minutes throughout the day.
Suppose you're standing on a street corner, waiting for a bus You're holding a package in your left hand; your right arm is hanging down at your side. Make a tight fist with your right hand, and tense your forearm muscle.
Bend your fist in and around and up toward your elbow; feel that forearm muscle flex. Keep it flexed for about six seconds, then release it.
That simple tension body weight exercise, repeated just once a day for a couple of months, has been said to produce a forearm muscle as hard as a board.
This body weight exercise is based on an "oddball" theory of muscle growth. German and American scientists and doctors have found that a muscle can grow at only a certain rate. And, according to this theory, it doesn't take as much work as we used to think.
If you flex any muscle to its maximum power and contraction, and hold it there for six seconds, once a day, some say, the muscle will grow in strength just as fast as it can grow.
Whether or not body weight exercises using only muscle tension can ever really replace weight lifting exercises is still a matter of controversy. Some scientists say it can; endless repeating of strenuous exercise, they say, "does not make the strength of a muscle grow any faster."
Most exercise experts don't buy into this method of bodyweight exercise and it sounds too much like a "midnight infomercial", but there are many who do it on a regular basis.
We do know however that certain forms of bodyweight exercise will make the size of the muscle grow faster.
The above mentioned six-second bodyweight exercise theory is far from accepted anywhere. For most people it will not guarantee maximum muscle growth and in fact could be a complete waste of time. It’s up to you to use the type of bodyweight exercise that works for you.
If you're not ready or able to start a proper weight training or fitness training program, or for some reason have no other fitness training options, then you may want to give this bodyweight exercise method a chance.
The so-called "experts" in this type of body weight exercise say that you need to stick with it every day for a few months. Work on every muscle.
As an example, for your abdominal muscles, tighten your stomach for six seconds; push the abdominal muscles out as far as you can, then relax. Pull your stomach in for six seconds—all the way—hold it—let go. Do the same with your biceps; then with your triceps.
You flex the triceps by bringing your arms straight up in back of you as far as they can go. Or, hold a broomstick or a ruler behind your back, holding it with both hands.
Now, keeping your arms straight, raise the stick or ruler as high as you can. Hold your arms there for six seconds—then release. If you've never done that before, with this body weight exercise, you'll discover muscles you never knew you had.
Do you have to go to a gym to keep in shape? Not at all, if you use bodyweight exercises properly. Anybody who thinks they can't exercise because there are "no facilities around" just aren't using their imagination with bodyweight exercises.
A body builder once said that when he was 14, he felt that his arms and shoulders were weak, and he wanted to lift weights, but was too self-conscious to admit it. What he did was go down to a machine-metal shop and bought a short, 12-pound bar of steel, because it was inconspicuous and easy to hide.
He in effect made up his own exercises, and he said that he had as much fun with that steel bar as he would have had with a complete gym.
A few years later, he said he discovered that a friend of his was doing the same thing. His "barbell" was a crankshaft from an old car. He had kept it in his bedroom for years, lifting it and working out for an hour or two every couple of days. He wasn't a husky guy— but his arms were like steel.
Even though these two individuals were lifting weights, kind-of, it can still be said that they were performing weightless fitness training because they did not use traditional weight lifting or strength training equipment or techniques.
Regardless of where you live, you can always dig up something to throw around and lift. A bar of metal, a length of pipe—even a long-handled shovel can serve as a light barbell when you're starting out. You may have to perform more repetitions, but you'll soon feel the weight.
An old broomstick can do as much good for your hands and fingers as any bodyweight exercise in the world. Hold it by one end in either hand, so that it's hanging down. Then, using just your fingers and thumb, "walk down" the broomstick until your fingers have reached the other end.
See how many times you can do this exercise and then challenge your friends to try it. It's one of the best ways to develop strength in your fingers, hands, wrists, and forearms.
If you're a football or soccer player and want to strengthen your neck muscles, try the pillow bodyweight exercise. Place a pillow against the wall at your shoulder level, and push into it with your head from different positions.
From the front, use the top of your head and forehead. Twist sideways and push with the sides of your head. Finally, turn around and push with the back of your head.
Do you need stronger wrists or ankles? Do rotation bodyweight exercises. Rest your right leg on your left knee, and grasp your right ankle with your left hand.
Then, describe a complete circle with your toes: first, counter-clockwise for forty rotations, then clockwise for another forty. Do the same bodyweight exercise with your left leg.
The same kind of exercise—simple rotation—can be applied to strengthen the wrists.
Can you climb a rope? It's a wonderful way to develop arm and shoulder strength, a strong grip, good stomach muscles. This body weight exercise is hard at first, then it gets easy; and when it's easy, it's fun. Keep trying every day.
You don't need a gym for body weight exercises like this: all you need is a good sturdy 20-foot length of rope, and a solid, live tree. The rope should be knotted securely to a branch at least 15 feet off the ground.
Learn how to lock your feet around the rope, so you can stop at any point on the way up or down. You can come down slowly that way, so that the rope doesn't burn your hands.
Practice your jumping; build up the spring in your legs. Jump across streams and ditches. Jump to the side, and up in the air. Pull down a leaf from that branch that's just out of your reach— or is it. Practice your running and racing.
Build up your legs and wind with dashes and cross-country jogs; try some imaginary broken-field running.
Play volleyball—it's a bodyweight exercise that develops and toughens your whole body. You have to be able to get up high in the air when you play the net and spiking the ball develops good shoulders and back muscles. You have to twist and turn and bend and spring—all good for the abdominal and trunk muscles.
You have to pass the ball accurately and set it up for a teammate to spike—good exercise for fingers and wrists.
If you want a bodyweight exercise sport that can be more fun (and often rougher) than football, and just as good for your leg muscles, try soccer. Anybody who thinks it's easy just hasn't played. It's good for your breathing and wind and endurance, and the body contact takes as much courage and nerve as any sport in the world.
Work with a friend about your own size and weight, and help each other toughen up. Indian arm- and leg-wrestling are good old standbys, and still a lot of fun. You and your partner clasp right hands, and stand with the outer side of your right feet touching.
With this body weight exercise the object is to make the other person lose balance completely or lift the right foot off the ground, by using your wits in pushing and pulling.
If you want to build up your biceps without lifting weights, try arm-wrestling. Indoors, sit at a table, or lie prone on a rug, facing your partner. Outdoors, of course, you can lie on the grass. Clasp hands, then, resting your elbows on the table, move them together until they touch and are vertical; now try to force your partner's hand all the way down to the table or ground without moving your elbow.
One of the world's most famous body-builders did an interesting variation of this and other body weight exercise when he was a boy—and not a strong boy, at that.
He got hold of a good, strong metal spring, and clamped it into a vise. Then he took a wooden dowel, or a sawed-off broomstick, and forced it down into the spring, leaving 6 or 8 inches protruding from the spring for a good grip. To build up his arms and shoulders, he practiced pushing, pulling, and bending the spring over as far as he could.
And now you probably have the idea.
You can make up your own body weight exercise routines. Use your imagination.
Anything you do to put continued tension on a muscle is a good body weight exercise.
When you begin to see results, you'll agree that body weight exercise can be fun.