Does Size Matter? The Role of Bodyweight in CrossFit
Does Size Matter?
The Role of Bodyweight in CrossFit
The role of bodyweight in crossfit is very important. In fact it is one of the most important factors when training for fitness.
If you are not using your own bodyweight as a tool to improve yourself then what purpose does it serve?
In order to gain strength and size, you need to use your own muscles. You cannot rely on machines or other equipment. Your own body will always have the advantage over any external assistance. However, if you want to get stronger than someone else without relying on their own muscle mass, then you must learn how to train with your own bodyweight.
If you do not know how to train with your own bodyweight, then you are probably doing something wrong. Training with your own bodyweight requires a certain level of skill and experience. The goal is to increase your strength and size while minimizing injury risk.
Training with your own bodyweight is different from training using weights or machines because it involves more mental focus than physical effort. It requires attention to detail and an understanding of how your body works. Since you are the only resistance you have to work with, you have to be aware of how to use your strength effectively.
You also need to know when to stop. Since you cannot measure your own strength you need to learn how your body responds to certain levels of effort. This means that everyone is a little different. However, there are basic principles that can be used to determine what works best for you.
What are the benefits of training with your own bodyweight?
There are many benefits to training with your own bodyweight. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that it saves you money. Most people do not have access to a lot of fancy equipment so all you really need is your own two hands. You can work out almost anywhere so you do not have to join a gym as well.
Another benefit is that bodyweight training is actually more effective than most people realize. Sure you are limited in what you can lift and move, but when it comes to functional strength, your own bodyweight is all you really need.
After all, how much does a barbell weigh? How much does a dumbbell weigh? How much does a kettlebell weigh?
The answer is not very much. You can get strong using your own bodyweight.
Sure you can lift a lot more weight when you use a barbell, but how much of that strength carries over to real world activities?
Not much. Most barbell exercises are actually not functional and rarely used in real life scenarios.
There is also the matter of balance and control. When you train with your own bodyweight you need to learn how to properly engage your muscles in order to create movement. This is a skill that most weightlifters do not have. You use your own body to provide resistance and this requires a certain level of body control and proprioception.
Lastly, you will burn more calories when training with your own bodyweight. This is because you are constantly having to fight your own bodyweight when raising or lowering your body. The more weight you have, the more muscle you need to lift it and the more calories you will expend in order to do so.
What type of exercises should I do?
There is no shortage of bodyweight exercises that you can do. Bodyweight exercises are the best way to train because they are functional, they increase bone strength and muscle control, and they do not require any special equipment. Here is a list of bodyweight exercises that focus on the major muscle groups. You can use this as a guideline to create your own routine.
Pushups: Works the chest, front of arms (biceps) and core.
Pullups: Works the back of the arms (triceps), shoulders and back.
Dips: Works the chest, front of arms (biceps) and core.
Squats: Works the legs and core.
Lunges: Works the legs and core.
Planks: Works the core.
Jumping Jacks: Works the core and warms up the body.
Mountain Climbers: Works the core and warms up the body.
You do not need to do all of these exercises in one session. You can pick a few and focus on them for a few weeks before changing things up again. As you get stronger you can add more exercises or increase the amount of time that you spend on each exercise.
How should I space out my workouts and how many should I do?
As with any exercise routine, you need to allow your body to recover. You do not want to tax yourself too much because this can lead to overtraining, injury and burnout. A good rule of thumb is to allow 1-2 rest days between intense workouts. This will also depend on what your workout consists of.
For our purposes, your workout will consist of bodyweight exercises. Since these are low impact and does not put too much strain on your body, you can workout every day if you want. But again, I would advise to take at least 1-2 days off per week to let your body recover.
As for how many exercises you should do and how many sets and repetitions (reps) you should do, this depends on what your goals are. For now, our goals are to get strong and muscular. For this, I would advise to concentrate on 4-6 exercises of 3 sets of 8-12 reps each.
This may sound like a lot but since you’re not using any heavy weight, your muscles won’t become fatigued as quickly. This will allow you to work each muscle group enough to create an overload which is required for muscle growth.
What about cardio?
I thought I should do that instead.
No, not at all. Cardio can help you lose weight and in some cases gain some muscle but it won’t be as effective as weight training. It should be used as a supplement to your weight training, not the other way around.
I thought I needed to do 1 hour or more of cardio everyday for my whole body in order to get results.
If you want to get skinny legs and a six pack then yes, you do need to do a lot of cardio. If you want to be a muscular bodybuilder then yes, you need to do a lot of cardio as well. If you want to lose weight while maintaining your muscle mass then yes, you need to do some cardio.
But if your goal is to gain as much muscle mass as possible then no, you do not need to do excessive cardio. In fact, excessive cardio will hinder your muscle gains since your body will start to lose muscle as a protective mechanism against the constant influx of stress.
Will weight training make me bulk up/get “manly”?
It’s not going to make you huge or masculine looking. You would need to eat a lot more calories than you are currently in order to do that. Don’t worry though, the workouts I have given you are just right for maintaining your figure while adding lean muscle.
I’m a girl and I want to gain a lot of muscle.
Will this work?
You sure can! Ladies you can gain a lot of muscle as well but you will have to eat a little more than the recommended calorie intake. Don’t worry, these workouts will still pack on the pounds and with the addition of an extra 500 cals per day, you’ll be looking great in no time.
Now let’s move on to…
Looking Great: The Final Week
Congratulations, you made it past the six week mark! By now you should be feeling a lot better about yourself. Your confidence should be higher and the new me is starting to shine through.
There’s no turning back now, so let’s make the final push and really transform that body into something to be proud of.
The exercises I have listed below are not much different than the ones you’ve been doing for the past six weeks but there are a few differences.
Remember, warm up first and make sure to do all of the exercises liss wise. In other words, don’t jump from one exercise to another without slowing thing down a bit. Stretch in between each set and take mini breaks when needed but try and keep these to a minimum.
By this time, these exercises should be fairly easy for you. If they are not, then you need to seek medical attention because something is wrong.
Let’s do this!
Exercise 2 sets of 8-12 reps
1 Bench Press
2 Bent Over Row
3 Overhead Press
4 Lying Tricep Extension
6 Leg Press
7 Leg Extension
8 Calf Raise
Day Seven: Rest! Think about how awesome you feel and how great you look. You earned this!
Once you’ve completed this week, take a day off from the gym. You worked really hard these past two weeks and your body needs a rest. Don’t worry, you’ll still be gaining some muscle even if you take a day off.
Now that you’ve rested, it’s time to hit it again!
The Workout: Weeks 7-12
Weeks seven through twelve are very similar to the last two weeks. You’re going to be doing the same weight lifting regiment with one change.
Instead of doing three sets of eight different exercises, you’re only going to be doing two sets of five different exercises. This is to prevent muscle confusion which means to stop the muscles from getting confused and failing to grow. If you keep doing the same exercises, your body will eventually become accustomed to them and refuse to adapt any further. By changing up the exercises every few weeks you keep your body constantly guessing and prevent it from plateauing.
You’ll also be increasing the weight you’re lifting and decreasing the amount of time you’re spending resting in between each set. This will improve your overall strength as well as build more muscle tissue.
Use the same weight chart as last week and try to increase the amount of weight you lift for each exercise.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Rx’d and shirtless: An examination of gender in a CrossFit box (BA Knapp – Women in Sport and Physical Activity …, 2015 – journals.humankinetics.com)
- Attentive processes, blood lactate and CrossFit® (V Perciavalle, NS Marchetta, S Giustiniani… – The Physician and …, 2016 – Taylor & Francis)
- Effects of medium-term green tea extract supplementation combined with CrossFit workout on blood antioxidant status and serum brain-derived neurotrophic … (E Sadowska-Krępa, P Domaszewski, I Pokora… – Journal of the …, 2019 – Springer)