As a fifteen-year fitness professional, it never ceases to amaze me how many buff and seemingly seasoned gym goers fail to utilize bodyweight exercises in training programs. On a daily basis, I watch people bounce forty-five pound bars loaded with countless plates off of their chests as they use momentum to help bang out one more repetition. I often wonder if these aforementioned individuals can perform a basic push-up with top form including precision timing in both directions. More importantly though, do these iron pumpers recognize the plethora of benefits that bodyweight exercises bring to any strength and conditioning program?
Incorporating bodyweight exercises into your fitness program is invaluable.
In fact, prior to venturing off to use machines or free weights, one should be able to perform fundamental bodyweight exercises such as the squat, lunge, push-ups, planks and crunches.
Bodyweight exercises are essential to building functional strength, endurance and flexibility. Not only do they help to develop the major muscle groups, but they force you to use your proprioceptive skills as well.
For example, when executing a lunge, the primary muscles that are being worked are your quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals and calves. However, one must also engage the core, rely heavily on the neurological system and utilize other muscle groups for balance and the maintaining of form.
This philosophy drove me to co-create a fitness program called Flip Fitness, which utilizes only bodyweight exercises to help develop both strength and cardiovascular endurance. Here is how Flip Fitness works
1. Flip Fitness is a total body workout based on a special deck of cards.
2. Participants select the appropriate workout level.
3. They then shuffle the deck, select a card from the deck and perform the corresponding exercise. The number of repetitions performed is determined by the number shown or face card that is drawn.
4. The goal of Flip Fitness is to be able to complete the workout in 30-40 minutes.
Each workout level contains nine different bodyweight exercises and every level is progressive in nature.
Some of the exercises that are found in the workout levels include mountain climbers, single leg squats, jump ups and three count negative push-ups.
Flip Fitness focuses on an interval training approach, which increases your metabolism and boosts your fat burning potential. The mix of cardio and strength, the change of planes with regard to your body position and the varying intensity levels throughout the program yields both aerobic and anaerobic workout benefits.
For example during the workout, you may select a series of cards that requires you to perform 10 push-ups, followed by 8 up downs (burpees) and then execute a 1 minute wall sit. So in a period of approximately two minutes, you have done a strength exercise, an intense cardiovascular exercise and then a combined strength and recovery exercise. Believe it or not, you still have 49 more cards to complete before your workout is done!
Regardless of whether or not you choose to use Flip Fitness, bodyweight exercises are a phenomenal modality to help you achieve your goals.
Remember, you do not need any expensive equipment or a gym membership to do bodyweight exercises. They can be performed both indoors and out, in the comfort of your own home and done in virtually any space.
Finally, bodyweight exercises help to eliminate many of the anti-exercising excuses that many of us proclaim. Before you pile on senseless, unnecessary weights choose to master bodyweight exercises for extraordinary results!
Heather Hoehn, BA, MA and ACE and NSCA Certified. Heather's diverse background includes serving as Head Volleyball Coach at Villanova University, teaching in the Wellness and Sports Science department at the University of Minnesota, owning her own personal training business, directing the operations of various fitness/wellness facilities, and serving as editor of PhillyFIT Magazine. Heather has combined her fitness, medical and sports experiences and teamed with Susan McInerney to create FLIP FITNESS. Heather is a NSCA and ACE certified personal trainer and has worked with people as young as ten and as mature as ninety years old to help them find strength and quality in movement. Fore more information visit www.flipfitness.com
Joe Cannon says
Rebecca, that’s interesting that you made workout cards like Flip Fitness! Flip Fitness is pretty popular here in the Philly area. Ive always liked the concept of having different workouts on different days. The idea more than anything else is fun for people and that’s what it is all about 🙂
Great article! Good to know that there are cards–I made fitness flashcards a couple years ago with the same idea of keeping client workouts fun and spontaneous.