When I first started training, I used mostly free weights and machines with the goal of lifting more and more weight while hoping to put on muscle, increase my strength, and become more fit. And while I did improve, the overall results were always somewhat disappointing. In addition, I always had these nagging little aches and pains that I did not think someone who was working out should be experiencing.
For the last 24 years, I’ve experimented with all different training styles and exercises—varying the intensity of effort, techniques, and the volume of exercise from one extreme to the other. In that time period, I personally did every kind of training you could imagine.
Then, starting about 6 years ago, I took my training in a different direction. I stopped using almost all machines and free weights and focused on bodyweight-only exercises. The results, it turned out, were very surprising. Not only do I physically feel much better but my confidence and conditioning have shot through the roof!
The best thing about this style of training is that you do not need any special equipment, mostly just your own bodyweight. It is very empowering to be able to move your body through different movements and positions.
At 49 years old, I am now in better shape than I was 15 years ago! I am more flexible, stronger, and have more endurance. My knees and shoulders no longer ache and my on-and-off-again lower back pain has disappeared. In the end, what does it matter how much weight you can lift if you cannot even handle your own bodyweight? It is one thing to push and pull weights around—it is quite another to master your own bodyweight from every conceivable angle and direction.
Think of getting fit as gaining control of your body and broadening the range of what it can do. When you start training in this fashion, you will feel the difference after your very first session. These basic bread-and-butter exercises will not only build your strength, flexibility, and endurance but will also fill in the other missing pieces of the puzzle such as keeping your lower back, shoulders, and knees healthy and, if necessary, stripping way unwanted body fat.
When performing body weight exercises, a valuable secret is to move through the exercise movements in a slow, controlled fashion. By keeping constant tension on the muscles, an exercise becomes both more effective and more efficient. Most of all, the exercise also becomes much safer.
So try a few workouts using just your own body and you might be surprised by the results!