Bodyweight exercises are a great addition to a strength/resistance workout as most of these movements require you to use your whole boy to execute them. They are particularly good if you are a beginner, as it gets you moving your whole body around and used to working with load.
My top three best body weight exercises are undoubtedly:
The pull up
The Press up
Let me explain why!
The pull up
The pull up has to be the king of upper body exercises. If executed with correct form it works a multitude of muscles giving the athlete more bang for your buck! It works the back muscles, the core and the arms all at the same time. Technique is important with the pull up, and there are also many ways to execute one. At CrossFit Chiltern and Limitless we have a scaling for each workout and exercise we do, enabling the newest of athletes to perform body weight exercises alongside more experienced athletes. Different variations of pull ups include:
Negative reps & Jumping pull ups: This is where you use your legs to enable you to jump and pull up at the same time. Slowing down your release is where the “negative” comes into the rep. It’s the negative portion of the movement that can put strength into the lat muscles making them stronger and able to pull a little bit more each time.
Band Pull ups: Where the athlete places a band around something high and anchored! Place the foot into the band and hang. Then pull yourself up. The band helps to pull you upwards into the pull up. Resisting against coming down too quickly is another good way to put strength into your muscles.
Ring rows: This moves the pull from vertical to horizontal pull. This is a baseline movement we would use for a beginner. It has varying degrees of intensity based on how you position your body during the pull. This type of pull up helps to strengthen the smaller muscles in the back so they can assist the larger muscles when moving to a vertical pull.
You have to love the BURPEE! This exercise also works many muscles in the body and is guaranteed to raise your heart rate. Whilst it is predominantly a lower body exercise, you also work the core, the arms and the heart and lungs!!! There are also many scaling options for burpees. I always think that burpees never get any easier, but when you feel you can do more consistently without stopping you definitely know you’ve got fitter!
The Press up:
Chest exercise? Yes, but the press up also works the core muscles, the lat muscles and the shoulder and arm (tricep) muscles. Technique is everything with most exercises, and especially with the press up. Executing a perfect press up takes practice and there are progressions with it too. The fundamentals of this exercise is being able to stabilise your shoulder girdle before performing the press up. This helps to engage the lat muscles in the back and prevents excessive use of the neck muscles. Keeping the body in a good strong trunk position is also key to this to make the core muscles do their job and get stronger. If ding press ups regularly and you have a seated day job, DO make sure you balance out your workout with a back exercise too. Excessive press us can lead to even greater postural issues for the average person, so make sure your programme is balanced.