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Why You Should Incorporate Bodyweight Exercises into Your Training

Updated: May 30

Have you ever thought about how many great exercises you can do with just your own bodyweight?

Bodyweight exercises play a huge role in CrossFit and for good reason: not only are they incredibly effective, they are also extremely versatile and can be done anywhere. You can do your workout anytime and anywhere - whether in the park, at home or even on vacation at the beach.

In this article, we'll tell you why bodyweight exercises should be an essential part of your training and how you can best integrate them into your workouts.

What are bodyweight exercises in CrossFit?

Athlete doing pull-ups

Bodyweight exercises are exactly what they sound like - exercises where you only use your own bodyweight as resistance. Think of classic exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups or squats.

These exercises are particularly popular in CrossFit because they don't require any special equipment and are still incredibly effective. They help you improve your functional fitness, which means you become stronger, more agile and more resilient - perfect for everyday life and, of course, for any CrossFit WOD!

What are the benefits of bodyweight exercises in CrossFit?

Athlete who does difficult push-ups

There are actually countless reasons why you should incorporate bodyweight exercises into your training.

For one, they improve your functional fitness. This means that they make you fitter for everyday movements and activities. Secondly, they promote body control and balance as you learn to move your body more efficiently.

And the best thing? They're incredibly flexible and scalable. Whether you're a beginner or a pro, you can adapt these exercises to your fitness level and continuously improve.

The key benefits at a glance:

  1. Improved functional fitness: bodyweight exercises are the absolute bomb when it comes to improving your functional fitness. Whether you're carrying heavy shopping bags or romping around with your kids, you'll quickly notice how much easier these activities become by regularly incorporating bodyweight exercises.

  2. Increasing body control and balance: Another big plus point is that you can improve your body control and balance enormously through bodyweight exercises. You will learn to understand and control your body better, which will benefit you in many other areas of your training (and life!).

  3. Flexibility and scalability: You can easily adapt bodyweight exercises to your personal fitness level. No pull-ups yet? No problem, just start with jumping pull-ups! Are you already a push-up pro? Then try handstand push-ups. There's always a way to challenge yourself.

  4. No equipment needed: Another big advantage is that you don't need any special equipment for bodyweight exercises - neither dumbbells nor expensive machines. This makes them particularly practical for workouts at home or on the go.

  5. Holistic training: Bodyweight exercises not only challenge individual muscles, but entire muscle groups. At the same time, they improve your endurance and coordination. Whether burpees, squats or planks - each exercise ensures that you get a real full-body workout.

What are the most popular bodyweight exercises in CrossFit?

Athlete who does push-ups

No idea which exercises you can do with your own luxury body? Here's a little inspiration for you:

  • Pull-ups: The classic for the upper body is a great workout for your back, shoulders and arms. And have you ever tried kipping pull-ups? They're great for practising your swing technique and slowly working your way up to heavier variations.

  • Push-ups: Push-ups are the ultimate all-rounder. They train your chest, shoulders and triceps and can be integrated into almost any workout. The great thing is that there are countless variations! From classic push-ups to diamond push-ups and handstand push-ups - you really can do them anywhere, whether in the park, in the living room or even in the office (if no one is watching).

  • Air Squats: Air squats are great for strengthening your leg muscles and improving your flexibility. Make sure you have the technique down - back straight, knees out - and you're ready for action-packed WODs. If air squats are too boring for you, try pistol squats. The 'one-legged squats' not only look cool, but also take your balance and coordination to the next level.

  • Burpees: Ah, the good old burpees! They are notorious because they target pretty much every muscle group and push your endurance at the same time. But that's exactly what makes them so effective. From the plank to standing and then a jump upwards - it sounds simple, but is guaranteed to make you sweat.

  • Sit-ups: Of course, the classic sit-ups are also a must. They are ideal for strengthening your abdominal muscles and can also be wonderfully varied. Try V-ups or Russian twists to add even more variety to your core training.

  • Planks: Planks may look simple, but they've got it all! They train your entire core, strengthen your back and improve your posture. There are many exciting variations, such as side plank or plank-to-push-up, which provide even more of a challenge.

  • Dips: Dips are brilliant for strengthening your triceps and shoulders. You can do them on a bench, a chair or even on parallel bars. Make sure that your elbows are pointing backwards and that you keep your upper body as straight as possible. If classic dips are too easy for you, try ring dips - they really challenge your muscles.

By the way, there are many more, for example mountain climbers, lunges, jumping jacks,... we could go on forever.

How can I integrate bodyweight exercises into my training?

Athlete who does dips

Very easy: just do it! The advantage of bodyweight exercises is that you don't need any equipment and can do them anywhere.

Combine them with other exercises

Bodyweight exercises go with everything! Simply combine them with strength exercises to add variety to your workout. For example, you can incorporate a few sets of pull-ups between your deadlifts or do a few push-ups after each set of back squats. This will keep your workout exciting and challenging.

Do a complete bodyweight workout

Why not do a whole workout with just bodyweight exercises? You can choose a 'Hero WOD' or have a suitable workout generated for you in the SmartWOD Generator app. How about this?

3 rounds for time:

  • 10 Pull-ups

  • 20 Push-ups

  • 30 Air squats

  • 15 Burpees

Use them as warm-up exercises

Bodyweight exercises are ideal for preparing your body for the workout ahead. A few minutes of jumping jacks or mountain climbers will get your circulation going and prepare your muscles for the harder exercises. And the best thing is: you don't need any equipment!

Go for interval training

Tabata or HIIT workouts are a great way to use bodyweight exercises effectively. Choose a few exercises and alternate them: 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest and so on. These short, intense intervals get your heart rate up and burn lots of calories. No idea for a workout? You can easily filter for Tabata workouts in the SmartWOD Workout Generator.

Experiment with different variations

Let your creativity run wild and try out different variations of bodyweight exercises. Turn normal push-ups into diamond push-ups, test out different plank positions or try out one-legged squats (pistol squats). Each variation provides different stimuli and keeps your training exciting.

How do I avoid injuries when doing bodyweight exercises?

Athlete who stretches

Although bodyweight exercises are very effective and versatile, you can injure yourself if you're not careful. But don't worry, with a few simple tips you can train safely:

  • Warm up properly: A good warm-up prepares your muscles and joints for exercise and significantly reduces the risk of injury. Do a few minutes of light cardio exercises such as jumping jacks or jogging on the spot and add dynamic stretching exercises such as arm circles and leg swings.

  • Pay attention to the right technique: The right technique is essential to avoid injury. Watch videos, ask trainers or use a mirror to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly. Small mistakes such as an uneven back during planks or arms that are too wide during push-ups can quickly lead to problems. So take your time and practise the movements.

  • Listen to your body: Your body knows best what is good for it. If you feel pain or discomfort, take a break or change the exercise. Don't train beyond your limits - there's always another day to reach your goals.

  • Incorporate mobility exercises: Mobility is key to healthy joints and a better quality of movement. Regularly include mobility exercises in your training, such as hip circles, shoulder rotations or exercises with the fascia roller. These help to improve your mobility and minimize the risk of injury.

  • Scale the exercises correctly: It's perfectly okay if you haven't mastered every exercise in the most difficult version yet. Scale the exercises to your fitness level and increase slowly. For example, you can get down on your knees for push-ups or use a resistance band for pull-ups. This will help you avoid overloading.

  • Wear the right shoes: Even if you are not lifting weights, good shoes are important. They give you stability and protect your joints. Make sure your shoes have a flat sole and not too much extreme cushioning. This will help you stand and jump more securely.

Conclusion: Ready, set, bodyweight!

As you can see, bodyweight exercises are a bit of a secret star. They are flexible, effective and easy to do anywhere.

Whether you're a CrossFit newbie or an experienced athlete, these exercises offer you countless opportunities to enrich your training and take your fitness to the next level.

So why not get started now? Grab your mat, choose a workout in the SmartWOD Workout Generator and start your next bodyweight workout!




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