How To Maximize Bodyweight Training For Your Goals
The ability to use bodyweight exercises (check out some of my favorites!) is a great tool to have as a mama because it allows you to literally, workout anywhere. But you need to maximize the way you train and make it specific to your goals.
And some of us may think that there’s “only so much you can do” with bodyweight, I beg to differ. I mean, have you seen the crazy calisthenics videos? Unless you’re close to that level there’s plenty you can still do!
The biggest problem I see when people train using only their body weight is that most females stick to the three most boring exercises: planks, glute bridges & squats. And while I have nothing against any of those exercises there are so many better ones you can do! (Here’s a list!)
In fact, you can tweak your exercise choice and workout style to boost your goals. But before you do that, make sure you understand the basics of each exercise and don’t just rush through them. I promise, it’s not worth it.
I always tell my clients to focus on the contraction, the activation of the muscle and not how fast you can get through it.
So, just what can you do to maximize your bodyweight training? Below are a few tips
And here’s a fun video with some workouts you may enjoy!
For The Newbie
If your goal is to get back into the swing of working out then you need to start with the basics. Make use of supersets (two exercises back to back) or trisets (three back to back) until you feel comfortable. Using 8-12 repetitions and 2-3 sets is a good starting point. You’ll also want to use bigger bang for your buck exercises and really nail the technique. Some great exercises for you are:
- Bulgarian split squat
- Paused squats
- Push ups
- Straight leg bridge
- Glute bridge with rotation
- Bodyweight good mornings
- Plank w. Shoulder taps
There’s lots of exercises out there but the point is to focus on form and contracting the appropriate muscle groups before doing anything intense.
For The Intensity Fanatic
Many people love working up a good sweat in a short amount of time and these workouts do just that! So for anyone looking for intense training using their bodyweight, you’ll want to rock some circuits and/or intervals (here’s a super crazy speedy one though it does involve some jumping!)
With bodyweight circuits I find it’s easiest to alternate upper and lower exercises so nothing fatigues too quickly. You can choose 5-6 exercises and run through the circuit 2-4 times depending on time and experience.
One thing to consider is to make sure you’re strong enough (and stable enough!) before jumping. I personally don’t give many plyometric exercises (jumping) to a lot of clients because while they can be majorly effective most people are just not athletic enough to perform them and end up with injuries because they do them in too high volume.
You may get breathless from 3 rounds of 20 burpees or jump squats but that’s nothing compared to the stress you’re placing on your knee joints if your glutes aren’t strong enough to help control the landing (check out my favorite glute exercises here). And if you’re a new mom, you’ll want to be careful you’re not placing too much stress on your pelvic floor. It’s normally best to avoid plyos in the initial postpartum period.
In terms of exercise selection, opt for big muscle group movements and rock them back to back with little rest. when you get comfortable in the exercises, either scale to harder variations or add in plyos if you’re ready!
Improving Strength & Badassery
As I said previously, bodyweight training can get pretty intense and if you scale it appropriately, you can get INSANELY strong. To do this though, you need to not only be committed but use logical progressions.
So for all of you looking to get strong and challenge your body you’ll want to stick more to straight sets (completing one exercise for the prescribed reps before moving onto another) with a few super sets here and there.
You’ll want to vary your rep range going for 5 reps for really hard exercises (like single leg squats) but trying to improve your max reps with things like rows and push ups. Start with 5-6 exercises and go from there. Below are some awesome exercises (and some progressions)
- Single leg squats to a marker –> free standing single leg squats –> single leg squats for depth
- Push ups –> tricep push up –> staggered push ups –> elevated pushups –> one arm push ups
- Inverted rows –> eccentric chin ups –> chin ups –> pull ups
- Bodyweight good morning –> single leg Romanian deadlift
- Bodyweight dips – ring dips
- Single leg hip thrusts with pauses
There is a lot of ways to use body weight training to your advantage. Not only does it allow you to train anywhere (or on park climbers!) but it also helps develop your mind muscle connection and improve your ability to contract your muscles on demand.
Don’t forget to pin how to Maximize Your Bodyweight Training
If you’ve ever been curious about bodyweight training, go for it. With so many style and exercises it’s a fool proof way to help smash your goals!
What’s your favorite bodyweight exercise?