Bodyweight Resistance Training is a form of low-impact, high-range strength and conditioning exercises where free-weights and other forms of resistance equipment are substituted for the athlete’s own body weight. Bodyweight training is a phenomenal supplement to weight training because the exercises involve low-impact, high-range movements that generate both Isotonic and Isometric strength. Our bodies build strength when muscles contract against resistance. These contractions result in one of three effects to the working muscle: it either lengthens, shortens, or remains the same.
Concentric = Muscle Shortens
Eccentric = Muscle Lengthens
Isometric Contractions = Muscle remains same length
All forms of aerobic and anaerobic training involve Isotonic muscle contractions to build strength and endurance. Walking, running, jumping, swimming, weightlifting, cycling – any compound movement will involve both concentric and eccentric muscle contractions. But what about Isometric strength, how is that developed?
Crossfit attacks strength and endurance training from a dynamic, full body methodology. This includes an entire subset of gymnastics, calisthenics and other bodyweight resistance exercises that work the full spectrum of isotonic and isometric movements. Calisthenics are especially notable for their isometric strength training properties which are highly beneficial to joints and tendons as these movements in some cases require extreme stabilization techniques. Below is the full list of Crossfit Benchmark Bodyweight workouts and exercises.
Benchmark Crossfit Bodyweight Workouts
Rope climb is a highly effective resistance training exercise which builds resistance in the muscles of arms, legs, core and upper back, and this is one of the reasons why it is an essential part of military’s physical training regimen.
While working out, people concentrate on all the major muscles, but forget about their back, which is very important to focus on. Back extension is one of those exercises that induce strength in the lower back, which consequently helps in performing high intensity exercises involving lower back and spine muscles.
The Box Jump is a classic compound exercise requiring accuracy, coordination, and balance. Box jumps are a plyometric exercise consisting of rapid concentric and eccentric muscle training performed in intervals. Box Jumps, and plyometrics in general for that matter, are tremendously effective at building functional strength for toning lower body and increasing the vertical jump height, along with improving strength and power. It involves major lower body muscle groups such as hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, calves, and glutes.
Lunge walks are considered to be a multiple purpose exercise which not only works your hamstrings, quads and glutes, but also focuses on your biceps. Lunge walks are great when performed with a set of dumbbells which helps in toning your arms along with legs, all in one single move!
Tabata squat, also known as air squat or body weight squat, is a great calisthenics exercise which tones and strengthens the hamstrings, quadriceps, thigh, and buttock muscles. Tabata squats also enhance the flexibility in glutes and hamstrings.
Rope jumps are not for just kids; instead, they are one of the best exercises that considerably improve lower body power and strength, stamina, foot and hand speed, coordination, balance, and agility. It also burns calories at an exceptional rate and helps in increasing bone density. It activates muscles groups such as hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and glutes.
L-sit is a classic and great isometric exercise that engages the entire body, mostly emphasizing on the abs, and also affecting muscle groups such as forearms, triceps, quads, and hip flexors. L-sits are primarily done on bars, but can also be done on rings and floor.
Handstand exercises are an amazing workout which requires great amount of strength to induce strength in major parts of the body. It engages major muscles groups of the body especially shoulders, back, chest, forearms, and triceps.
Dips are the best body weight exercise for building bigger arms. Dips work to engage all the muscles in triceps, which further helps in performing high intensity exercises. They can be performed using a chair or bench, or equipment like a double handle stand.
Elbow-to-Knee crunches are a form of calisthenics that target the largest muscle in your entire abdomen, the oblique muscle. This muscle group sits on the lateral portion of the anterior abdomen and are the raised, fleshy digitations we are referring to when we observe a ‘six pack’ stomach.
The Muscle Up is an extremely difficult compound exercise that is performed using one of two types of apparatus: a pull-up bar or the still rings. The two movements involved are essentially a pull up followed by a dip but don’t let the simplicity fool you, this exercise require paramount upper body strength. If you’ve ever watched the Male Ring’s Competition at the Olympics you know what I’m talking about, this move is used extensively by world class Olympic gymnasts in competition.
Total full upper body workout that engages nearly every single muscle above the waist including: biceps, middle back, lats, traps, triceps, forearms, shoulders, and abdominals.
Burpee is a full body exercise which essentially works almost every muscle in the body. The major muscles groups that are engaged in doing burpee are: glutes, hamstrings, obliques, biceps, triceps, calves, abdominals, and various others.
See the Complete List of Bodyweight Benchmark Exercises Here!
Benefits of Low Impact / High Range Movements
It doesn’t take a degree in kinesiology to recognize the low impact, high range of motion elements inherent in bodyweight exercises. Free from the mobility constraints innate in static forms of strength training (think barbells, benches, and racks involved in Powerlifting, many bodyweight exercises require athletes to exert force against a longer continuum of resistance.
Lets compare box jumps to power squats for an example as both exercises work the same muscle groups. To perform a box jump, the athlete first coils his body downward like a spring to build up leverage then explodes with maximum force into a vertical leap that ends with the athlete pulling his legs up under his body on his descend in order to land on a box several feet off the ground. Using the same muscles to accomplish a power squat, the athlete starts at a standing position drops down 90 degrees with the barbell on his back and powers right back up into starting position.
The box jump requires an athlete move through a longer range of motion in order to complete the exercise compared to the Front Squat, creating a longer and more sustained form of resistance for the muscle(s) to overcome. Furthermore, box jumps only utilize gravity and natural body weight for resistance compared to a power squat that requires an athlete carry and squat a couple hundred pound barbell on his back. The downward force born by the knees in a front squat is far greater than the G-force absorbed by the athlete in landing on a position higher than they started.
This is just one example of the reduced force on impact and increased range of motion provided by bodyweight exercises over their free weight counterparts. The low impact force of these exercises make them ideal for interval training as the athlete can easily scale the intensity, reps and rest period to meet any number of endurance and/or strength goals. Benefits abound!
Increased strength, stamina and endurance, as well as improved overall cardiovascular health are just some of the benefits of low-impact & high-range movement bodyweight exercises. In addition to the obvious aerobic benefits of swimming, running and biking, there’s that whole isometric strength training characteristic too.
Calisthenics are a form of strength and conditioning exercises performed without the use of free weights and/or other fitness equipment. The exercises simply require the athlete’s own bodyweight to build functional strength, muscle, flexibility, coordination and agility. In that sense they are similar to Olympic lifts (like the Crossfit Power Clean) in that they require dynamic movements in order to achieve strength and flexibility, but expand on these dynamic movements to include isometric exercises as well.
Calisthenics include gymnastics and other rhythmical exercises executed over low-impact/high-range motion intervals, i.e., hybrid aerobic/anaerobic exercises. For this reason they benefit cardiovascular fitness and are paramount to Olympic lifting in their psychomotor benefits including balance, coordination and agility. People prone to motion sickness or any other vestibular problems will find calisthenics beneficial to their overall balance and spatial orientation.
Push-ups, sit-ups, handstands, lunges, pull-ups, squats, dips, and box jumps are all calisthenics with a strength training bent while jumping jacks and burpees are more aerobic based.