Mark Lauren, author of the popular book You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises, is a certified Military Physical Training Specialist and as such was a trainer for U.S. Special Operations military forces. Watch as he demonstrates how two classic exercises, push-ups and squats (both one-legged and two-legged) can be modified according to your level of fitness and intensified as your fitness level improves. It’s a short demo of what is possible with this method.
I was quite impressed with these videos, as they make the solid point that we can do our workouts to the level of intensity that we need; it’s just a matter of changing the technique to add intensity.
This is extremely important and we know from studies that as we get older (i.e. past the age of 25 or 30) we are continuously losing muscle mass, a condition known as sarcopenia. With lower muscle mass comes a lower metabolic rate, which is partly why it can be more difficult to maintain weight or alternately to lose weight.
But the good news is that we can compensate through strength training. Working major muscle groups is the most effective way to build and maintain muscle mass. With the bodyweight approach we can get better results as we are engaging more muscle groups simultaneously. This kind of exercise is best for developing functional fitness — enabling greater mobility and strength in daily tasks and chores such as lifting and moving objects.
Push-ups are important for building upper body strength and core muscle strength. With push-ups you work the pectoral (chest) muscles, upper arms, as well as forearms and wrists. They also help in increasing endurance and metabolism. If you’ve ever done a succession of push-ups then you know they have cardiovascular benefits as well. (video below)
Squats are also working several major muscle groups; glutes, quads, hamstrings, and lower back muscles. These are essential for balance and endurance. Mark Lauren shows us how to crank up the intensity, and we don’t even need any machines or free weights to do it. (Video below)
Be sure to check out the resources at Lauren’s Web site including 20-minute workouts.
The advantages of bodyweight exercises for weight loss, strength building and health are numerous. We can save money on gym memberships — as well as on the time spent traveling to and from the gym (to say nothing of adverse weather or other circumstances that might legitimately keep us from getting to the gym), or alternatively the expense of home fitness equipment. It’s so much easier to work into our schedules, and it’s great for traveling and vacation time.