Old Standby Body-Weight Training Still Has Moves

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 4, 2015 | Go to article overview

Old Standby Body-Weight Training Still Has Moves


Byline: Gabriella Boston Special to The Washington Post

Vibram running, Kangoo jump workouts, slide boards, six-minute abs, shake weights, the ThighMaster a fitness trends and gadgets come and go. But one type of exercise has stood the test of time: body-weight training.

"There are so many fads and buzzwords out there, but body-weight exercise is the foundation for everything," says Elizabeth Brooks, a personal trainer and owner of Effervescence Body by Brooks. "Pushing and pulling movements and lunging and squatting all translate into functional, day-to-day movement. If you can do a squat, you can get out of a car."

So what exactly does body-weight exercise mean?

"Body-weight exercises are exercises performed without external resistance and loading of the body," says Mike Fantigrassi, master instructor at the National Academy of Sports Medicine. "No resistance bands or weights."

Some exercises involve minimal equipment such as TRX suspension bands for pullups and Bosu balls for balance. But for the most part, says Fantigrassi, "you can do them anywhere."

Another plus, he says, is that they "tend to teach an integrated approach to exercise." In other words, rather than isolating a certain muscle or muscle group, body-weight exercises tend to involve many parts of the body at once. For example, a push-up works the chest, shoulders, arms and abdominals.

They also tend to put more demands on balance and coordination; think of how your body performs jumping jacks or one-legged squats as opposed to using a seated leg-press machine at the gym.

You might wonder how you can progress -- that is, move to a more difficult version of a given exercise -- without external weights. But it's easy, says Fernando Gomez, a personal trainer.

Consider how to progress from the basic squat: Someone who is out of condition could work up to it by beginning with sitting in a chair and standing back up. Someone who is already fit, in contrast, could move up to jump squats -- adding the short bursts of maximum force known as plyometrics.

Similarly, if people want to work on upper-body strength, they could begin with a modified, assisted push-up with hands on a bench and feet on the floor, or a wall push-up. …

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