How to Get the Most out of Bodyweight Exercises

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As runners, we get plenty of cardiovascular activity. However, no matter how much we train on the treadmill or trail, strength exercises are also necessary to prevent injury and help us meet our racing goals. In addition to at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two or more days of strengthening exercises per week that target all of the body’s muscle groups. 

If you don’t have a gym membership or access to a personal trainer, don’t worry. You can perform bodyweight exercises at home to tone and build your muscles. Learn more about why these activities are recommended for running enthusiasts of all skill levels and how to make the most of them to become a better athlete. 

What Are Bodyweight Exercises? 

Bodyweight exercises are those that do not require machines or free weights. Like their name suggests, you use the weight of your body to increase your physical strength. Since the weight of our physique provides natural resistance against gravity, many health experts think they’re even more effective than dumbbells or kettlebells at creating lean muscle mass, increasing muscle oxygen use and reducing joint pain. 

Tips For Achieving The Best Bodyweight Workout 

To get the best results possible from your bodyweight workouts, follow these basic tips: 

1. Target The Entire Body 

While strengthening your glutes and thigh muscles will help you avoid knee injuries and shin splints, building muscle mass in your entire body will make you a faster runner. It will also allow you to race for longer than before. Try exercises like the tuck jump, plank or plyometric push-up for a full body workout and then work on specific muscle groups every few days. Lunges, wall sits and squats are great for the legs, while donkey kicks, standard push-ups, and dolphin push-ups will build muscle in your chest and back. To gather speed through arm strength, work on arm circles, triceps dips and diamond push-ups. Bolster your core with flutter kicks, side planks, and Russian twists. Bicycles, crunches, and shoulder bridges are also helpful. 

2. Don’t Push Too Hard 

While you may remember your college roommate doing push-ups every day, a high-intensity bodyweight workout can have much more dramatic effects on your body. Every bodyweight strength exercise, especially those that target the entire body, require an appropriate amount of rest. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 48 hours of downtime in between high-intensity strength exercises. Some athletes may need up to 72 hours to reduce muscle soreness and return to their usual capacity. 

If you do a session of full-body exercises like planks and tuck jumps, wait at least a couple of days before completing them again. For example, if you work on your arms on a Tuesday, target your lower body on Wednesday or Thursday before trying your upper body later in the week. If you still feel sore 48 hours after your arm exercises, give it another day before engaging in more planks. Increasing your activity level too quickly can lead to injury or extended downtime, so it’s better to move cautiously, especially when beginning your bodyweight workout routine

3. Wear Compression Gear 

Compression gear is specially made socks, shorts, and armbands that improve blood flow to the muscles. While people with diabetes and pregnant women often wear compression hose and socks to prevent leg pain or blood clots, they’ve become popular among athletes like basketball players and runners. The tight-fitting gear is believed to improve athletic performance during training and competition by increasing oxygen uptake and body conditioning. 

Some running enthusiasts like to purchase a pair of socks and armbands to use during their cardiovascular training and bodyweight workouts. Put your gear on during your arm or leg training to reduce the chances of muscle fatigue and prevent strain. If you are taking longer than 48 hours to recover, you may also be able to get back to your bodyweight exercises faster. 

4. Stay Hydrated 

You can further reduce muscle fatigue by keeping your body hydrated. Bring a handheld water bottle with you during your bodyweight exercises, taking in a sip of water between activities. Don’t forget your fluid intake even when you’re not working out. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy, men should drink up to 13 cups of water per day, while women should aim for around nine every 24 hours. 

Hardworking athletes may need even more. To calculate your sweat loss and determine how much more fluid you need, get on the scale before and after training. One pound of body weight loss equals about 16 ounces of sweat loss. Once you know the weight difference, measure the amount of fluid you consumed during your bodyweight session. Add the amount of sweat loss to the amount of water consumed to get your total loss number. Finally, divide the total amount lost with your total number of hours of training to get the magic number: fluid loss per hour. 

Once you know this number, you will know how much more water to consume. This will help you repair and oxygenate your muscles even better so you can recover as quickly as possible. If you’re unsure about how well you’re hydrating, talk to your doctor. They can chat with you about how much cardiovascular and strengthening exercise you do each week to come up with a plan that works for you. 

5. Experiment With Exercises 

If you don’t enjoy some of the bodyweight exercises you complete, find another one you like better. There are hundreds of activities that target the core, arms, and legs. Try this list of over 100 types, or get with a physical therapist or athletic trainer to find the ones that will help your body type the most. With a little experimentation, you will enjoy your regular bodyweight routines while noticing visibly stronger muscles. 

Now that you know how to use your body weight to your advantage, you’ll find yourself improving your run times and soaring above the competition. Best of all, you don’t have to spend money on a fancy gym or in-house strength training to get the results you desire. 


I hope you enjoyed this article about how to get the most out of your bodyweight exercise regimen on a frugal budget.

Interested in more frugal fitness bodyweight training tips? 

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