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Total Body Weight Workouts

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Professional Fitness Trainer Lara Price delves into the purpose and benefits of total body weight workouts.

When two strength training worlds collide
Body weight workouts are a type of strength training that uses the weight of your own body to provide resistance against gravity as opposed to equipment. A full-body workout on the other hand is a workout designed to hit all major muscle groups in one single workout and can be done with or without equipment. By combining the two, an individual can perform a total body weight workout hitting all the major muscle groups in one session with simply their own body weight used as resistance.

The benefits of body weight
There are several benefits to doing total body weight workouts. First, they can be performed virtually anywhere and no equipment is required, so they are especially ideal while you’re traveling or can’t get to the gym. Body weight workouts also enable you to easily transition from one exercise to the next with little-to-no rest, since it doesn’t involve switching machines or weight increments. By minimizing rest time, your heart rate remains elevated, adding a cardio component to the workout as well.

For example, performing an upper body exercise and going straight into a lower body exercise with shorter rest times in between allows your upper body to recover while simultaneously keeping your heart rate up for a good metabolic burn. When performing a total body weight workout you use multiple muscles and joints that in turn maximizes the efficiency of each exercise.

Reach your goals efficiently and effectively
If your goal is to get into overall better shape, performing total body weight workouts two to three times per week is a great place to start as long as it is structured in a way that challenges you and keeps your heart rate up. Most people have the misconception that total body weight workouts are not as effective as other forms of exercise. However these workouts can be as short as 10-15 minutes long and still be just as effective as a typical strength training session at the gym—which make them perfect for when you’re traveling or cut short for time. Performing a total body weight workout for 20-30 minutes is ideal for burning calories and increasing muscle strength. Just remember to keep moving from one exercise to the next, keep your heart rate elevated and every repetition counts—10-15 reps per exercise should do the trick.

Practical total body weight circuits
Give these total body weight workout circuits a try whether you are at home, in a hotel room, in your office, at the gym or just want to take your workout outside.

Circuit 1  

  • Push-ups: 10-15 reps
    Begin in a plank position with straight arms. Bend your elbows and lower your body as one unit straight down to where your elbows meet your shoulders. Push back up, keeping your core engaged. If you need to modify this move, simply start in a plank position on your knees.
  • Squats: 10-15 reps
    In a standing position with feet shoulder width apart, bend your knees, push your hips back and lower your body as if you were sitting down in a chair. Keep your weight in your heels and toes light and go as low as feels comfortable. Remember to not squat so low that your hips go below your knees. Squeeze your glutes and engage your core as you stand and return to your starting position. To make this move more challenging, squat down and jump straight up.
  • Burpees: 10-15 reps
    Start in a standing position with your feet a little wider than shoulder width. Bend down and put your hands on the ground. Then, either jump or walk your feet back to a plank position. From here you can jump or simply stand back up into your starting position.

Rest for 1-2 minutes and repeat this circuit 1-2 more times.

Circuit 2

  • Plank to downward dog: 10-15 reps
    Starting in a plank position with arms straight, keep your legs straight as you lift up and push your arms and hips back to form a triangle with your body. Try your best to keep your heels on the ground. Engaging your core, bring yourself back down to the plank position.
  • Alternating reverse lunges: 10-15 reps each side
    In a standing position with feet hip width apart, take a large step back with your right leg. Lower your hips while bending your knees to form a 90° angle with your left leg. Keeping the left knee behind the toe, make sure to balance your weight evenly between both legs. Push off with the right leg to bring yourself back to a standing position. Repeat on the other side. 
  • Squat jacks: 10-15 reps
    In a standing position, lower yourself down into a squat with your hips back and weight on your heels. Hold this position as you jump both your legs in and out in a jumping jack motion as you keep your body lowered. As a modification, simply step one foot out at a time to avoid added pressure to the knees.

Rest for 1-2 minutes and repeat this circuit 1-2 more times.

The beauty of total body weight workouts is you can modify or intensify them as much as you want. Feel free to experiment with different movement patterns to accommodate pre-existing injuries or give yourself an extra challenge!

It is always important to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. Remember to start out slow as you build confidence and feel more comfortable with each movement. Soon enough, the efficiency of your total body weight workouts will speak for itself from the results.

For more information about Cooper Fitness Center or to schedule a session with a Professional Fitness Trainer, visit or call 972.233.4832.

Article provided by Cooper Fitness Center.