One of the biggest trends in fitness does not require fancy equipment or a healthy bank account. Rather, it costs nothing — and you can do it anywhere. Workout enthusiasts headed back to basics this year and rediscovered the benefits of unpretentious body-weight training. From lunges to crunches to pushups, using your own body to gain fitness remains as uncomplicated as it gets. For those looking to simplify their lives this fall, perhaps keeping the fitness gear on the shelf for a season could do the trick.
Here are nine reasons to start bodyweight training:
Ditch the “can’t work out today” excuse because you can do these exercises in the comfort of your home, a hotel room or wherever you have a few minutes to spare.
Make it social. “You can work out with your friends at the same time because you don’t need equipment or excessive space,” says Ambyr Chatzopoulos, certified personal trainer and USA Track and Field Level 1 certified trainer. Bonus: Friends can play a major role in how well you work out. In a study published in the scientific journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise, researchers found support from others close to you can influence exercise habits — even if it’s virtual. So, if you all do the workouts together and encourage each other, you are more likely to make it a habit.
The exercises transfer to everyday life. “Getting out of bed, pushing the shopping cart, taking the stairs and getting into your car all become easier when you incorporate bodyweight training into your routine,” says Lucy Dunne, founder of Dunnebells, an online training website.
READ MORE > 10 ESSENTIAL BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES
With machines you don’t know how to use or weights you are not sure you can lift, working out at the gym can feel overwhelming. “Stick to what you were given and use your body weight to provide one of the toughest workouts you will ever experience,” says Dunne.
You don’t need to stack your home with expensive weight machines or join a pricey gym.
If you have never strength-trained before, body-weight training forces you to focus on form — and “you have a lower chance of injuring yourself,” says Chatzopoulos.
Body-weight training is a “two-in-one” exercise, says Nikki Walter, a fitness educator and top fitness competitor. The best way to burn calories and lose weight, she says, is through combining cardiovascular-heightened caloric burn and strength training.
And, body-weight training “usually includes more than one muscle group, so you save time training,” says Franklin Antoian, ACE personal trainer and founder of the top-ranked personal training website, iBodyFit.com. For example, pushups engage the core, triceps, deltoids and chest muscles.
You can become a stronger runner through body-weight training’s focus on core and balance work because you don’t rely on weights or equipment to hold you in place, says Katie Chung Hua, a fitness competitor.
Body-weight training strengthens cognitive skills, including reasoning and judgment. “By incorporating bilateral movements in your body-weight training, you are incorporating bilateral coordination that requires both hemispheres of the brain resulting in strengthened cognitive skills,” says Stephanie Knoop, certified personal trainer and owner of Burn Boot Camp in Flower Mound, Texas.