With the massive influx of workout videos on YouTube and the sheer
number of gyms, many folks new to working out believe that lifting heavy
weights for countless reps is the best way to build muscle.
That’s simply not true.
In fact, a workout that emphasizes body weight and proper form is going to
be more effective than one that focuses on shredding the muscles without
any consideration of form.
Body Weight and Proper Form Make for a Great Workout
If you’ve ever done body weight exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, squats,
or sit-ups, then you know that they’re no joke. Body weight workouts are an
effective way to build strength.
Planks are an excellent example. Holding in plank works just about the
entire body. When done correctly, this pose focuses on the transverse
abdominis and the rectus abdominis. But you can intensify it by adding
mountain climbers, hip drops, or jumping the feet opened and closed. All
Then there’s the Russian twist. This seemingly simple movement works so
many muscle groups. These include the obliques, hip flexors, rectus
abdominis, transverse abdominis, latissimus dorsi, and erector spinae. This
move can be intensified by adding cross-body punches, overhead arm
pulses, or elevating the feet. Again, no weights involved.
Throw In Some Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are a great way to make a workout more challenging and
build total-body strength. They encourage muscle growth by offering
constant tension on the muscles through the entire movement. They’re not
necessarily better than weights, but they do challenge the muscles in a
Step Up to Pilates Workouts
If you’re really serious about building strong and lean muscle, you can try a
Pilates class . Regardless of how they may look to an outsider, Pilates
classes are anything but easy.
While all of the larger muscle groups are addressed, working muscles in
isometric holds trains smaller muscle groups that aren’t traditionally
targeted in traditional weightlifting training or classes. These additional
isometric exercises both build and maintain muscle strength.
Another huge advantage of Pilates is that the movements and exercises
create a strong foundation for more weight bearing exercises you may try
later down the line. That’s because Pilates focuses on more than just
building muscle. It is training for the mind-body connection through
Speaking of form…
Is Form Really That Important?
Here’s the deal. All the body weight workouts and weightlifting in the world
aren’t going to be worth much if you don’t start first with proper form. Using
body weight with proper form is always going to be better than lifting
heavier weights with improper form.
So then what is good form?
Well, every body is different so what is considered good form will vary a
little bit from person to person. But there are some basic rules that have to
do with attaining the perfect length-tension relationship of your muscles so
there’s not too much force on any one muscle.
Proper form means that all of the parts of your whole body are working
together in harmony. The muscular recruitment required to maximize
muscular develop is achieved. And force is evenly distributed throughout
your body so that you don’t suffer injuries.
This is why it’s crucial to master proper form (even when using just body
weight movements) before intensifying the movements or adding weight.
It’s much easier to develop good habits by establishing a foundation of
proper form than it is to correct bad habits later.
Advice For Good Form
First, you want to be sure you’re fully contracting the target muscle group
and not just trying to complete the movement. Slow down so that you’re not
relying on momentum. You need to focus on keeping the muscular tension
both during the ascending or outward movements as well as the
descending or inward movements.
Experiment with different numbers of repetitions to meet your goals or
strengthening. Remember, you want to achieve the muscular exhaustion
that’s essential for maximum muscular recruitment, and, in turn, muscular
You’ll know you’ve found the right intensity if you’re able to breathe
comfortably during each movement. Consciously and mindfully breathing in
tandem with good form supports oxygen flow and enables you to work
harder and longer than you might otherwise. In addition, proper breathing
minimizes the risk of unsafe increases in blood pressure that could trigger
heart issues while training.
Finally, give yourself time to rest between movements to facilitate proper
pace and form.
We Can All Use More Support In Our Lives!
It’s clear that a workout emphasizing body weight and proper form is a safe
and effective way to build muscle. But maybe you’re wondering where to
Working with an experienced Pilates instructor can be beneficial not only
when learning how to bodyweight train, but also to ensure that you’re using
correct form so you don’t develop bad habits over time.
So if you’re ready (and we believe you are!), contact us today to get