Bodyweight exercises are strength-training exercises that use the individual's own weight to provide resistance against gravity. Bodyweight exercises can enhance a range of biomotor abilities including strength, power, endurance, speed, flexibility, coordination and balance. This type of strength training has grown in popularity for both recreational and professional athletes. Bodyweight training utilises simple abilities such as pushing, pulling, squatting, bending, twisting and balancing. Movements such as the push-up, the pull-up, and the sit-up are some of the most common bodyweight exercises.[better source needed]
While some exercises may require some type of equipment, the majority of bodyweight exercises require none. For those exercises that do require equipment, common items found in the household are usually sufficient (such as a bath towel for towel curls), or substitutes can usually be improvised (for example, using a horizontal tree branch to perform pull ups). Therefore, bodyweight exercises are convenient when travelling or on vacation, when access to a gym or specialised equipment may not be possible. Another advantage of bodyweight training is that there are no costs involved.
As bodyweight exercises use the individual's own weight to provide the resistance for the movement, the weight being lifted is never greater than the weight of one's own body, which can limit new muscle growth. Another disadvantage is that bodyweight training may be daunting to novices and perceived as too easy for experienced athletes. Women, in general, also find it more difficult to do bodyweight exercises involving upper body strength and may be discouraged from undertaking these exercises in their fitness regimens.
Bodyweight exercise for older adults
Some bodyweight exercises have been shown to benefit not just the young, but the elderly as well. Older people undertaking bodyweight exercises benefit through increased muscle mass, increased mobility, increased bone density, decreased depression and improved sleep habits. It is also believed that bodyweight training may assist in decreasing or even preventing cognitive decline as people age. In addition, the increased risk of falls seen in elderly people can be mitigated by bodyweight training. Exercises focusing on the legs and abdomen such as squats, lunges and step ups are recommended to increase leg and core strength and, in doing so, reduce fall risk. These bodyweight exercises provide multi-directional movement that mimics daily activities, and can thus be preferable to using weight machines.
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- Contreras, Bret (2013-09-06). Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy. Human Kinetics. ISBN 9781450429290.
- Stryker, Krista, 'Squats for a strong lower body' in The 12-Minute Athlete, New York: Tiller Press, 2020, p.43
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