Monday, August 10, 2009

Body weight vs. External weight??

All too often people looking to lose weight feel that they need a whole gym at their disposal. This couldn't be further from the truth. And we see that when the Morning Hi-5 spends time outside. The exercises they do are entirely body weight. The primary method of increasing intensity is to either add repetitions, slow down or speed up each repetition. Either way the goal is to increase the amount of time the muscle is being used.

However the debate remains, which is tougher: Body weight exercises or external weight? My take is that both have benefits, but one is obviously much cheaper and to a certain extent better for the everyday person.

Body weight exercises will require at least one of the following components, and often more than one;
  • Core
  • Awareness
  • Balance
  • Rhythm
  • Integration
  • Stability
  • Energy
To demonstrate this, lets break down a split squat and a pull-up.

Split Squat
  • Core - used to maintain proper posture and avoid bending forward at the waist during the descent
  • Awareness - knowing how far into the lunge you are and knowing when to come back up
  • Balance - the lead leg is doing most of the pushing and requires good side to side balance as well as front to back balance
  • Integration - This movement requires coordinative use of the glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves and spinal stabilizers
Pull Ups
  • Core - abdominal bracing used to prevent forward and back ward swinging during the movement
  • Rhythm/coordination - knowing when to contract muscles to ensure the highest force output for each muscle
  • Stability - the shoulder joint is the most unstable in the body, the pull up helps to improve shoulder stability under intense situations
  • Energy - this exercise requires so many muscles groups that it uses much more energy than a simply pull down
Overall both methods of exercise will be beneficial. Yet it is important to remember that just because you don't have a gym at home does not mean you cannot exercise. Below is a list of my favorite body weight exercises for home use. Do as many reps as needed to feel burning in the muscle then move onto the next one.
  1. Pushups
  2. Overhead Squats
  3. Pullups
  4. Lunges
  5. Hip Bridging
  6. Sno-angels
  7. Mtn. Climbers
  8. Plank-side plank
  9. Single Leg Squats
  10. Modified PullUps

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