Welcome to our New Year fitness blog series at Greaves. A New Year means many of you will want to kickstart your fitness resolutions, so we pulled together our best tips on the important topics that anyone new to the gym, or even someone who is a regular gym-goer, can use as a guide on their fitness journey.
Just because fitness is your new year's resolution, doesn’t mean you have to drag yourself to the gym every day, lifting weights when you hate it and punishing yourself. There are numerous advantages to using bodyweight workouts to achieve your goals. You don’t need to wait for equipment with gyms being packed every January. You can also perform bodyweight workouts anywhere, at the park, in a garden or at the gym. Whether you want a high intensity workout or even some yoga, there are plenty of bodyweight options.
Bodyweight exercises are those that require no equipment to perform. Squats, pushups, crunches, are all bodyweight exercises as they require you to use your own body weight as resistance (as opposed to a dumbbell or barbell where the resistance comes from a source that is not your own body).
Can I Build Muscle Without Weights?
Absolutely. While it might take longer to see results, you can certainly build muscle with just using your bodyweight as long as you put the muscle under the right amount of tension. It is simply easier to build muscle by using weights as you can put your muscles under more stress by adding extra weight. Think about performing a bodyweight squat holding nothing, compared to holding a 15kg weight.
It could be argued that anyone starting out at the gym should focus on bodyweight workouts first. The term ‘Kinaesthetic awareness’ means understanding how your own body moves. So before you try to perform a back squat with a barbell on your back, learn to master the bodyweight squat first and understand how your own body moves on it’s own without adding extra weight too early.
Which Is Better, Gym or Bodyweight?
If you want to build serious muscle, really push your body and enhance your performance then the gym definitely has the equipment to help you do this quicker. However, if you want to increase your fitness before hitting the weights and develop great kinaesthetic awareness, start out with bodyweight workouts!
How Do I Structure A Bodyweight Workout?Bodyweight workouts can be structured the exact same way as weighted workouts. If you are focusing on a full body workout you could take each main muscle (chest, core, shoulders, quads, calves) pick a movement for each of those items and perform a certain number of reps back to back. Here’s an example beginner workout:
Complete each movement back to back with no rest, but resting for 60s after each ‘round’. Repeat workout for 5 rounds:
Mountain Climbers x10 / Crunches x10 / Plank 30s / Jump Squats x10 / Calf Raises 30s
Here is how to structure a great bodyweight workout:
- Figure out how long you want your overall workout to be. Let’s say 20 minutes.
- Figure out what muscles you want to focus on. Let’s say full body.
- Decide a routine for each movement. Find 4 exercises (pushups, plank, crunches, squats). Decide that you are going to perform 40 seconds of each exercise and 20s rest between each exercise. For 5 rounds that’s a 20 minute bodyweight workout.
There are loads of bodyweight movements you can perform, Pushups with your hands and feet at various elevations, the plank, crunches, squats, calf raises, running on the spot, burpees, bear crawls, walkouts. The list goes on. You can order a yoga mat to put under your hands or knees.
Knowing how to structure a bodyweight workout is great for new year as even if every single piece of equipment in the gym is taken, all you need is some floor space and your efforts leaving the house will not be wasted. Bodyweight workouts can be performed anywhere and really help you figure out how your own body responds to certain movements.