I often get asked about bodyweight workouts–especially by newcomers to fitness, regulars while traveling, people without a gym membership or limited equipment and time.
Are they enough? That depends on the person and what they are training for.
For a competitive athlete looking to excel in their chosen sport–no; for someone wanting to be their biggest, strongest and most powerful–no.
However, for someone starting out on a fitness program or just wanting overall conditioning often times the answer is yes.
If you haven’t been working out, are overweight or have a serious health challenge a bodyweight workout can be the perfect place to start. After all, if we can’t move our own weight there’s no need to add any.
Where do you start?
I like keeping things as simple as possible; our lives are complicated enough. Most everyone I know including myself has a full plate and finding time to workout can be a challenge but it can be done. It requires a commitment. Start with 3 days a week “penciling” it in. If your health, physical and mental well being is a priority as well as being your best at work and parenting along with happiness you will make the time.
We all have the same 24 hours and a date with one of the “Girls” (see infographic above) can be just the place to start. There are plenty to choose from.
Meet the Girls
CrossFit commonly names benchmark workouts of the day (wods) after girls. There are several that use bodyweight and some lifting but no bars. Others mix it up and some get heavy. . .
Please, if you are a beginner do not run out and do these workouts as prescribed.
They will kill you; you will be so sore you will hate me and never want to work out again.
You must use them as a template and scale them down to your current fitness level.
For example let’s take Angie: 100 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats. If you do the math that is 500 reps.
“Joanne” is 40# overweight and hasn’t worked out since high school–she graduated in 1985. Joanne is looking to get in better shape, lose some weight and start a fitness program. Would we have her do this workout as written? Of course not–that would be poor coaching. How would we scale this for her?
10 pull-ups (using the legs for assistance) or maybe a back extension or reclined row, 10 modified push-ups, 10 sit-ups, 10 squats. 3 rounds with 2 min rest between are just one option.
We want Joanne to feel good about completing her workout. We want her to enjoy it, we want her to get better and we want her to workout again in 2 days. She has the rest of her life. All does not need to be completed on day 1. Do you get the idea?
I have done each of these workouts at least once–many are bodyweight only but they are also high volume. You will feel the after-effects. Take it down and build gradually over a period of weeks and months. They are simple but effective and must be handled with care.
If and when you are ready you can always add weight by choosing a girl from the “Mix it Up” or “Get Heavy” category.
Back in 2010, we did a 3 part series on bodyweight training along with a video. While the video is dated from a perspective of our training facility the form and technique remain the same. Check it out below.
For more detailed info on how to do the movements check out the additional articles below.
Now, go DO IT!
Paula Jager CSCS and Level 1 CrossFit and CF Nutrition Certified is the owner of CrossFit Jaguar. Her exercise and nutrition programs yield life changing results.