Let’s see if you’ve ever gotten the following advice: Want to lose weight? Start running. Want to get in shape? Cardio. What’s the best exercise? Aerobics.
For a long time, cardio was king when it came to exercise and giving exercise advice. Make no mistake, giving your heart a thorough workout is still very good for you, but experts are beginning to back off from the “all cardio, all the time,” stance they may have taken in the past.
Instead, bodyweight exercises are proving to be healthier, and more effective than we may have first realized. Here are a few reasons why you need to replace some of the cardio you’re doing with bodyweight exercises.
1: They Burn a Lot of Fat
Yes, running and aerobics still burn fat, but bodyweight exercises do as well, and in some cases, they can accomplish the same amount of fat burning as your daily run in significantly less time.
The secret behind bodyweight exercises is that they help build muscle all through your body. So rather than simply working your large muscle groups such as your quads, hamstrings, and glutes as you would when you’re running, you also get to work your pectorals, your latissimus dorsi, biceps, triceps, abs, lower back – all of it!
Here’s the important part…
As your body composition begins switching and you gain more muscle, your metabolism increases and your body becomes more efficient at burning fat. In fact, the more you work different muscle groups, the more fat you burn.
2: Running Just Might Not be For You
Do a Google search for the term “hate running” and you’ll find hundreds of pages complaining about the difficulties, the commitment, and the injuries associated with this hobby.
The truth is, not everybody is built to run. Some people may actually be doing more harm than good by attempting to get that eight-minute mile under their belt. If you are experiencing continual injuries, frequent plateaus, or just an inordinate amount of difficulty with running, it’s probably time to try something else.
You can definitely still get your heart pumping with a full bodyweight exercise circuit. Push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, squats, planks, pull-ups… these may be the exercises you need in your life.
3: They Reduce the Risk of Many Diseases
Most people already know that any type of exercise can help lower your risk of heart disease, and type II diabetes, but did you know that bodyweight exercises are especially good at helping to prevent osteoporosis?
As you strengthen the muscles throughout your body, you are also strengthening connective tissue, and bone. Taking good care of your bones through bodyweight exercise can leave you with a more resilient skeleton as you age, meaning you are less prone to bone fractures.
4: You Can Do Them Anywhere, Anytime, in Any Weather
So, you’ve just gotten your running schedule sorted out, when a persistent three-day rainstorm settles in. Outdoor activity, fresh air, and cardio are all great things for your body, but they can be derailed by bad weather, whereas a bodyweight circuit can be completed in your living room. It can also be done in an office cubicle – in fact, pretty much anywhere!
Indeed, one of the strongest arguments in favor of bodyweight exercises is that there is nothing stopping you from doing them right now.
5: You Work Your Whole Body
Running, sprinting, the elliptical machine, and stair steppers are all popular cardio pursuits, but they do tend to focus mainly on strengthening the lower half of your body. Again, there’s nothing wrong with doing this, but it’s no secret that people who rely mainly on cardio for their workouts tend to struggle with poor upper body strength.
Bodyweight exercises address several muscle groups at once. Take push-ups for instance. There’s a reason this old standby is included in nearly every workout plan: they work your upper back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest, and core.
Remember, this is not a call for you to abandon your cardio completely. Instead, it’s an invitation to reevaluate your workout plan. If you find that you have been relying too heavily on cardio, it may be time to switch things up by including some bodyweight circuit training. The experts all agree that you will begin to see some great results.