Bodyweight exercises and programs using back-to-basic exercises are expected to be one of the top 10 fitness trends of 2014.
Because they don’t require weights, bodyweight exercises are the ideal choice for individuals who want to exercise but don’t have access to equipment.
Here are some of the advantages of bodyweight exercises:
• Can be easily modified for any fitness level. By adding extra repetitions, performing the exercises faster or slower you can make even the simplest exercises more challenging.
• Improve core strength and balance. Your “core” is more than just abdominals, your core is made up of at least 29 muscles throughout your abdominals, obliques and lower back. There are many bodyweight exercises that can be done to strengthen the core for improved posture and bodyweight exercises. Bodyweight exercises often involve compound movements (meaning numerous joints and muscles are engaged in each move). Compound exercises are effective for strength gains. Performance improvements research shows improved core strength gained through bodyweight training translates into improved strength gains throughout the entire body as well.
• Often the excuse for not exercising is, “No time.” But bodyweight exercises can be done anywhere, anytime without any equipment. It’s convenient and easy to make your living room, office or even hotel room your gym and workout when it suits your schedule.
• Gym memberships can be pricey, but bodyweight training is free. Experts cite the low cost of bodyweight training as a key part of its return in popularity.
• Bodyweight training prevents injuries, which are among the main reasons why people stop exercising so preventing aches and pains is important. Bodyweight exercises are generally quite safe for any exerciser regardless of experience, age or fitness level.
A bodyweight exercise routine for older adults should focus on the same priorities as in earlier years—strength, cardiovascular health, flexibility, and balance. Core workouts and functional training will remain important as older adults focus on staying functional and independent as long as possible.
According to Mark Sisson, a fitness expert on bodyweight training: “The body without regular activity, exercise and balanced nutrition will, go downhill faster in our later years. But what people take for natural aging (e.g. the dwindling of muscle mass, the stiffness, the decreased mobility, etc.) is all preventable. Sure, the stakes are higher now, but the potential for true fitness is as genuine as ever.
“The importance to later fitness is to be smart about it. An injury can put you out of commission for weeks or months. Proper form and technique are key to avoiding injury. The other is avoiding the temptation to overdo it in terms of both workout length and weight. It’s better to back off if you’re in doubt rather than risk overdoing it.”
If you are new to resistance training, consider hiring a personal trainer to ensure a bodyweight routine is safe and appropriate for you. Along with accountability and motivation, a personal trainer assists in helping you to work out safely watching your form, monitoring your vitals and can provide objective feedback about your limits and strengths.
Most of us tend to ignore some of the subtle signals our body provides. We either push through pain or give up too soon. Because a personal trainer can watch what you are doing while you are doing it, they can help push you or slow you down as necessary.
And remember, if you are age 50 or older, haven’t exercised for some time, or have chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program.