Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search



You are here News & Events

The Benefits of Bodyweight Training

Trinity Sport Fitness Instructor Mark McGauran outlines the benefits of bodyweight training

Published: May 20th, 2020, 15:00hrs

Getting fit doesn't have to be complicated. Bodyweight training is an extremely versatile and effective way to condition the body and requires little to no equipment. However, we need to progressively overload muscles to continuously improve and avoid stagnation. We can achieve overload by performing more reps of a given exercise, more sets, reducing the rest period or create more time under tension using a controlled tempo

Take the push-up, for example, a tried and tested way to build strength and endurance in the chest, shoulders, triceps and core muscles. We can make a push-up harder by elevating our feet on a box or make them easier by doing them from the knees.

As we get stronger, we can increase the reps or work at a controlled tempo (tempo is the speed at which we perform a rep). For example, during a push up we can lower the body under control for 4 secs and lift it for a count of 2 secs. This will dramatically increase the intensity of the exercise and most likely force us to drop the number reps. The trick is to periodically change one variable at a time example one extra set of an exercise.

Five bodyweight exercises:

1. Push Ups - Target the chest, shoulders, triceps and the core muscles

2. Burpees - Full body movement targeting the legs, chest, shoulders, triceps, and core

3. Dive Bombers - Targets the shoulders, upper chest and triceps

4. Bear Crawls - Full body movement targeting the lower body, core and upper body

5. The Plank - Targets the core

We can perform bodyweight training HITT style to burn calories and enhance aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. Tabatas can be done if time is an issue. In a Tabata workout, each round lasts four minutes. It requires 20 secs of all-out intensity, followed by 10 secs of rest, repeated eight times. You can do 2-4 rounds of four minutes like this depending on your level.

Performing quick cardio sessions (such as 45 seconds of burpees) between strength movements (such as a set of push-ups) will keep the heart pumping while still encouraging muscle and strength development. Bodyweight workouts can be done anywhere at any time and you are only limited by your imagination!