Whether your gym is closed or you want to try something different, bodyweight exercises are a great option. But without the extra weights and with no equipment, does that mean it’s a training style that can be done every day without straining yourself too much?
Here’s the good news—you can do bodyweight exercises every day. This means that if you want to train and don’t have access to a gym or any facilities or equipment, then you won’t have to sacrifice your workouts. However, you’ll still need to consider recovery. Bodyweight exercises can be strenuous on the body, which means rest and recovery is important.
There are ways to do bodyweight exercises every day without taxing your body too much. We’ll run you through everything you need to know so you can find that balance between strong workouts and ample recovery time.
What Are Bodyweight Exercises?
Bodyweight exercises are exercises that are done using only your bodyweight. This means, no barbells, no dumbbells, no kettlebells or any other gym equipment that adds weight. It’s just you and the movement. Though, with that being said, don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s easy or a cop-out to weighted exercises. You’ll be surprised by just how challenging and heart-pumping they can be.
Benefits of Bodyweight Training
There are multiple benefits of bodyweight training. Here are just a few rewards you can expect to gain:
Anything that gets you moving is great for your health. Bodyweight exercises, in particular, use functional movements that can help you in your everyday life. You’ll fix your posture, gain better coordination and balance. Not to mention, your cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength will improve. Talk about a one-stop-shop for all your health needs.
Studies have shown that even without any extra gym equipment or weight, you can improve your fitness doing only bodyweight training. In fact, this study illustrates that your fitness abilities will develop in multiple areas such as strength, flexibility and aerobic capacity.
Check out our article on whether only doing bodyweight exercies can help you maintain muscle.
Yes, you do burn calories while training, even when you’re just using your own weight. But did you know that intense training means that you’ll still burn calories even after your workout? Thanks to something called EPOC, or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, your body will still be a calorie-burning machine long after you’ve finished your last burpee.
When you exercise, you use a lot more oxygen than normal and your heart and body temperature increase. Subsequently, you also deplete more glycogen from your muscle and blood stores. When you finish exercising, your body works on replenishing your oxygen and glycogen stores as well as returning your heart rate and body temperature to normal. But this process also requires calories to work which is why you’ll continue to burn more. Hence, EPOC.
One thing to bear in mind though—for a greater EPOC effect, your training session does need to be on the more intense side. Think HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) rather than LISS (Low-Intensity Steady State).
REQUIRES NO/MINIMAL EQUIPMENT
You don’t need anything but yourself. Of course, any equipment that you can use will mostly involve everyday items or furniture such as chairs or stairs which most people have access to most of the time. But if not, as long as you have a body, you’re set to go.
The beauty of not having to use any gym equipment means that you can basically do your bodyweight training anytime, anywhere. Can’t get to the gym? No problem! All you need is space in your living room. Want some fresh air instead of being indoors? Head to your front or backyard or even your local park. It’s so easy and convenient to pump out some bodyweight training so you know there’s literally no excuse.
CATERS TO ALL LEVELS
There are so many variations of bodyweight exercises you can do and there’s so many variations of just one bodyweight exercise you can do that you can never get bored! Take push-ups for example. For beginners, you can push up from your knees and more advanced people can do it from your toes, but if you want to make it more difficult, add in a clap in between each rep. It is completely up to you how you want to train and what variations are suited to your ability. You really don’t need weights to make it easier or more challenging.
Read our guide on leg workouts you can do at home without weights.
General Fitness Recommendations
We know it’s important to exercise and get moving every day to reap those major health and fitness benefits, but how much are we really talking about here? Well, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend the average adult to get a minimum of 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. If you amp up the intensity though, then you only need 75 to 150 minutes a week.
With FitBod’s releasing bodyweight workouts, you’ll be sure to hit these numbers easily.
How To Do Bodyweight Exercises Every Day Safely
As we mentioned earlier, bodyweight exercises can be done every day as long as you’re careful and follow some guidelines to make sure that you don’t overtrain.
Remember, just because you’re not using added weights, doesn’t mean you can skip the warm-up. By taking only a few minutes out of your day to prepare for your training session, you’ll get more out of your workout and your body will also thank you.
Warming Up Prevents Injury
Jumping straight into your bodyweight workout when your muscles aren’t warm can be a recipe for disaster. These exercises can be strenuous on the body, with or without added weight, so make sure you get those muscles prepped and primed to prevent any potential injury.
Warming Up Helps You Get In The Right Mindset
Just as your muscles need to be warmed up, so does your mind. Don’t underestimate bodyweight workouts. By getting in the right mindset, you can be sure you’ll be mentally ready to attack your training with everything you’ve got. Game face on!
REMEMBER YOUR FORM
Your form is always important. In fact, it’s especially important to be able to do these movements with the proper form using only your bodyweight first before you can even think about adding extra weight. This paper shows that analyzing your performance of the bodyweight squat can help evaluate your technique and determine how much weight your squat can actually support—with the correct form.
So your bodyweight workout session is the perfect time to go back to basics and really focus on correcting your technique and positioning across all exercises before moving forward.
TRAIN DIFFERENT MUSCLE GROUP EACH DAY
You may think that using just your body and natural resistance to gravity isn’t as straining on your body as in the gym, but anyone who has done multiple reps of bodyweight squats for multiple sets can tell you otherwise. I know I can! It’s incredibly tiring and taxing on the muscles. This is why it’s a smart move to train different muscle groups each day to allow for recovery time.
Related Article: How To Create Your Own Workout Program
Another way to make sure that you have enough rest if you’re doing bodyweight exercises daily is to change the intensity and volume. Don’t train to failure every day. Instead, decrease the reps or sets, or do less volume on some days. This way, you’re still exercising without overtraining the same muscle group.
MIX IN LIGHTER MOVEMENTS
Bodyweight exercising doesn’t always mean HIIT or strength/cardio-based workouts. Slow it down with some light yoga or pilates. While there are some yoga classes that are quite fast and can get your heart rate up, focus on the slower, more light-paced movements that really stretch out your body and give you active recovery time. Not only that, but it’ll also improve your flexibility and mobility which in turn can help make other movements like your squats.
Related Article: Can Hiit Be Done With Weights? (Yes, There Are 4 Rules)
How To Increase The Difficulty
Up for a bit more of a challenge? Here are some simple ways to increase the difficulty of your bodyweight training.
MAKE IT DYNAMIC
Adding in jumps or hops to your movements can completely transform the exercise. For example, don’t just air squat, why not do jumping squats? Push-ups are too easy? Add in a clap in between the reps. These explosive movements are not only challenging but they are fun to try as well! Just make sure that you’re careful and that you are still executing the exercises with the correct form.
CHANGE IT TO SINGLE-ARM/LEG
The extra challenge of balancing while performing an exercise will make any bodyweight movement harder. A pistol squat is a popular variation of a normal squat in which you squat down on one leg. One-handed pull-ups or push-ups are also a great way to make yourself work harder. Not to mention, you’ll get a great core workout at the same time.
DECREASE REST TIMES
A simple way to get your heart rate pumping is to decrease
your rest time in between sets. Instead of 2-minutes, cut it down to 90 sec or even 1-minute. It’ll mean you’ll have to perform your next set with less recovery time but of course, that just means it’ll be more of a challenge.
TURN IT INTO A CIRCUIT
Why don’t we take it one step further and instead of cutting down your rest time between sets, let’s just cut rest time out altogether? Choose multiple exercises to perform as part of a circuit and only rest after you’ve completed a round of the circuit. If you really want to test yourself, see how many rounds of the circuit you can do in a 30-minute time cap. And then next time, try and beat it.
Related Article: Can Bodyweight Exercises Build Glutes? (Yes, Here’s How)
USE ANY EQUIPMENT YOU HAVE LYING AROUND
If you do have the means to do so, then you can use some other equipment to make your bodyweight exercises harder. Use resistance bands, chairs, backpacks filled with heavy objects, water bottles, anything you have in your home to increase the resistance or weight. If you don’t have anything suitable though, don’t worry. Just focus on our first four recommendations above to make it more challenging and you’re set.
Bodyweight exercises are often an underestimated form of training. That is, until you actually give it a try yourself. It really can cater to all levels and you can push yourself when you need to, as well as allow for the all-important recovery time. And yes, while it can be done every day, just make sure that you follow our guidelines to ensure that you are doing it safely and smartly.
About The Author
As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between