In fact, new research finds that body-weight training can boost muscle strength as well as hoisting weights can. In a four-week study at North Dakota State University, one group of exercisers did progressively harder push-up variations (from wall push-ups to modified single-arm reps); another did barbell bench presses, gradually adding pounds. “The results showed that the push-up was just as good at increasing upper-body strength as the bench press,” lead researcher Christopher J. Kotarsky says. The push-up group may also have strengthened their core more. Ready to sculpt all over with no tools? We’ve got the info.
BODY BONUS With each running stride, your foot hits the ground with a force that’s two to five times your weight, stimulating bone growth
THE POWER OF A BODY-WEIGHT CIRCUIT
One of the great things about body-weight training is that it’s built on total-body movements. “In compound movements, our entire system works harder – we are forced to balance, move in diﬀerent directions, and use multiple muscle groups,” says Holly Rilinger, the creator of the Lifted method and remote coaching program. “This translates into greater calorie burn.” You’re also building functional strength. “Functional training refers to training for movements – push, pull, rotate, jump – that you do in everyday life,” she says.
Body-weight workouts are easy to adjust in intensity. And you can go from move to move without losing ﬂow.
As a Nike master trainer who has led routines at big events around the world, Rilinger has honed the art of creating a serious workout using just the body as resistance. So we tapped her to kick oﬀ our new Shape Studio video workout series with a circuit of her creative moves that checks oﬀ all your muscles and high-intensity intervals too. Body-weight workouts are easy to adjust in intensity, just as if you have a cardio or weight machine, Rilinger says. (For example, doing decline push-ups instead of traditional ones is like adding plates on a chest press machine.) Some of the ways to instantly turn it up a notch: “move faster. Do it on one leg. Make it a plyo,” she says. Want to make it easier? “Do it on your knees. Slow down. Reduce your range of motion.” And because there’s no equipment, you can transition from move to move without stopping or losing your ﬂow – that will keep the intensity hot and the hassle low. But the real magic of body-weight training, Rilinger says, is that “anyone can benefit from it– even an Olympic athlete.” Start now with her HIIT-style seven-move routine at Shape Studio.