The (Significant) Limitations of the Bodyweight Workout

Bodyweight workouts are all the rage, but do they deliver sustainable results for the average person?

Bodyweight workouts are great for their convenience and the unlimited kinds of exercises you can perform.

However, on average, the amount of “resistance” applied during bodyweight workouts is only about 60% of your bodyweight. So, for example, if you are doing a push-up or a squat, and you weigh 100 pounds, you are working against only 60 pounds of resistance. If you weigh 150 pounds, only 90 pounds of resistance, etc. When you consider your glutes are your largest muscle group, squatting against 60% of your bodyweight is not very much, unless you are just beginning to exercise.

 When fitness publications or your favorite trainer program bodyweight workouts, they have to factor in the reduced level of resistance your body actually applies, and that is why so many reps and sets are involved. There is no rule that says you have to do so many reps or sets to get results, but the less amount of resistance applied, the more reps you have to do. That is why a decent bodyweight workout often requires as many as 12 sets or more of at least 10 reps or more to see even marginal results. That can be time-consuming.

 Furthermore, because the level of muscle activation is fairly low, only a portion of the muscle groups being worked are necessary to complete the movement. The lack of resistance leaves much of the muscle group at most minimally activated. Yes, if you do enough reps, you will feel the fatigue of the primary muscles, but a significant portion of the muscle group has not been activated much at all. That means that many areas you hope to be (or think you are) working on, are being left out.

This leads to another shortcoming of the bodyweight workout: because muscle activation does not run as far or as deep as it could, bodyweight workouts must be repeated often to produce lasting results. Not only are the workouts longer, because of all the reps and sets, but you must workout more often to produce and maintain results. That may be great for trainers who workout almost every day, but may not be so great for those of us with busy lives. Who has that kind of time!?

 

And at some point, no matter how many reps and set you do, increased gains will become almost impossible to come by. It’s called plateauing, and is a common result of relying on bodyweight workouts.

 The 10-minute workout, no equipment necessary. Are they serious?

You see them everywhere; “The 10-minute bodyweight workout,” “The 5-minute no equipment workout when you’re in a hurry,” “The 20-minute fully-body, no equipment workout.”

These kinds of workouts certainly sound appealing, but at most, they fall into the “it’s better than nothing” category. There are, without a doubt, real fitness and health benefits associated with them, but for the reasons outlined above, they provide few lasting results if you are looking for real, demonstrable fitness and physique gains. Using 60% of your bodyweight only for such a short period of time is not asking much of your muscles.

If you fall into that category of, "I'm doing all these bodyweight workouts exactly as they are showing me, but I'm not seeing the kind of results I hoped for," it's simply an unavoidable reality of bodyweight workouts that the fitness industry does not always make clear.  If you like the freedom and convenience of bodyweight workouts, consider adding resistance to them.

The most effective resistance is that which maximies what's called "time under tension," the amount of time during a workout that your muscles are placed under tension.  To learn more about today's most effective system for maximizing your time under tension, without sacrificing the freedom and convenience of bodyweight workouts, go to wearbands.com.


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