Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bodyweight Training.

Inspired by this video I wanted to take a brief moment to talk about body weight training and why it's so important. I was sitting around thinking the other day, about what I'm doing with my clients; is it fat loss, strength, hypertrophy (muscle growth), self improvement etc. I think the answer in most cases is more than one of those, if not all of them, but something that I haven't really elaborated on is strength training, in relation to body weight exercises. I've seen other trainers give exclusively body weight routines, and to be honest I've thought less of them. But moving your body weight, in different ranges of motion, with control and grace is important, after all, it is the true application of real strength. Are we in the gym trying to get strong at lifting weights? Or are we trying to get strong at day to day things, at moving our bodies comfortably through ranges of motion. Yes weights will do this for you, if you follow what has been termed "functional training" (an admittedly vague title that can mean just about anything outside of bodybuilding training), but we need to program and specialise for the individual.

My general thought process has been, not for all cases obviously, but as a general starting off point, for beginners: body weight for the upper body, light to moderate weight, for the lower body, and this has yielded positive results (with girls being able to do 30 push ups with toes on a bench to a respectable depth). The important thing is: no injuries, there is no excessive overloading of weight, no awkward movements, no patter overloading and it provides ancillary benefits such as core stability, and shoulder stability.

Most people who start training with me, can barely do a push up, and I'm talking man or woman alike. Working in the city, I get a lot of business types, who sit at their desks all day, who, therefore, aren't able to activate their glutes, have cervical and thoracic issues and lack even the most basic levels of strength and fitness. It's hard as a trainer with x1, 30 minute session a week to try and undo all that de-training. Body weight training is a great way to load somebody up, with functional movements, that help activate the core (including glutes), the stabilizers and to burn some calories. Do I expect my clients to be like this behemoth (above)? Of course not, but it's a great demonstration of: a person who set out to achieve a difficult goal (and got there), real/functional strength and a decent fitness level.

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