Safety / Injuries
Integrating Bodyweight Workouts with Corrective Exercise
Have clients who don’t always make it to the gym when they say they will? If your client is skipping workouts because they don’t have gym equipment available or they have a “busy” schedule, then you should consider bodyweight workouts for their program. Muscle imbalances begin to develop when our clients do not consistently complete the workouts we prescribe them. Learn how bodyweight workouts and corrective exercise go hand in hand to help prevent this from happening.
What is a Bodyweight Workout?
Exercises using an individual's own weight to apply resistance to the human body make up a bodyweight workout. The resistance applied is a combination of an individual's weight and gravity. Just as weight training adds load to the body to force change, bodyweight workouts also help improve strength, endurance, hypertrophy, and more. Also known as calisthenics, these workouts mostly include exercises that target large muscle groups without the use of equipment.
The Value of Bodyweight Training
Clients often undervalue bodyweight exercise when comparing it to weight training. However, the contrary is true, bodyweight training is useful in many circumstances.
Freedom from Equipment
If a client is looking for a quick investment with a high return, bodyweight workouts are great to implement into their program. Bodyweight training can also encourage strength gains, muscle gains, increased flexibility, and improved endurance. So, if a client does not have access to gym equipment, they can benefit from this type of training.
Stress and Repair Ratios
It is important to understand that the amount of stress and damage the body undergoes determines how much it needs to repair. Paring the right amount of incremental stress with the right amount of volume provides the best results over time. In fact, bodyweight training can provide enough stress to our bodies just as much as weight training does. When your body repairs this damage, your muscles increase in size and strength.
Bodyweight for Strength Training
Bodyweight training is an effective method of many workout styles including strength training. You can prescribe strength training bodyweight workouts to both beginners and experienced gym-goers. They are adjustable and can be modified according to a client’s fitness level and personal goals.
Bodyweight workouts can also be used in other workout routines as modifications if a client is unable to perform a weight training exercise. It can even be used to make an exercise more difficult. This is a great way for clients with injuries to continue strengthening muscles without further damaging the injured area.
Maintaining Strength While Injured
Bodyweight training is significantly useful if a client has a knee injury and is unable to perform certain weight training exercises due to the load the joint and muscles undergo. Both bodyweight training and weight training have pros and cons. This is similar to the dispute between machine training and free weight training. Remember that the type of training you prescribe should always be in parallel to the client's goal. Deciding what training type is best for them is the most important part of their success.
With bodyweight workouts, you can improve both aerobic and anaerobic pathways at the same time. Bodyweight workout prescription has great flexibility and endless exercise options. Exercises can include but are not limited to squats, lunges, pushups, pull-ups, dips, good mornings, planks, crunches, and sit-ups. There are many different variations to make these exercises more or less challenging while still working on cardiovascular conditioning. Progressing a bodyweight squat to a jump squat will help create a more aerobic exercise.
Benefits of Adding Corrective Exercises to a Bodyweight Workout
Bodyweight workouts and corrective exercises often overlap without trainers realizing it. A lot of corrective exercises are bodyweight exercises that target specific muscle groups. Both corrective exercise and bodyweight workouts help with injury prevention, recovery, strength building, and any other goals a client might have. Both types of exercise are extremely alike, but also vary. Corrective exercise can help bodyweight workouts become more effective due to the muscle activation and rehab type exercise it consists of. Corrective exercise can be very different than your typical exercises.
Reevaluating a client’s goals and progress is crucial to ensure you know when it is time to advance their program. Cross-training, where you implement a variety of exercise types into one regimen or workout, can be similar to the integration of corrective exercise and bodyweight workouts. Mixing up fitness components can improve overall fitness and performance within your clients. By incorporating corrective exercise into bodyweight workouts, you’ll see improved technique, increased mobility, healthier lifting habits, and better motor control.
Flexibility and mobility play a huge role in helping a client perform a bodyweight movement safely and correctly. If a client lacks the functional strength to perform a squat, then corrective exercise can help in producing better mobility. How a client moves throughout exercise or any human movement should be systematic. The kinetic chain works together with muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons, each affecting one another. Disruption to the system in any area produces movement dysfunction.
Corrective exercise helps to determine where issues originate and addresses their impact on other areas of the body. Every person has imbalances to some extent. Find these imbalances in your clients and correct them to achieve optimal balance and overall health. Improving overall balance will increase performance in bodyweight workouts. If we keep increasing performance in our clientele, then we create a much more results-driven environment.
Knowing some of the key muscles to target for better balance is the first step to addressing these issues through corrective exercise. Before loading the body with weight, you should always build a strong foundation to help prevent injury, especially in beginners.
We now know that to fix movement dysfunction, we prescribe corrective exercises. When clients perform bodyweight workouts at a higher level with better biomechanics, they yield a higher return. If our client is moving incorrectly throughout the exercise you prescribe them, then the body will begin to compensate for imbalances to protect the body from injury. This takes away from an individual's results and transfers into activities of daily living.
Not only will your clients benefit from more reps in the gym, but also outside the gym. Whether a client is lifting weights in the gym or just moving throughout a normal day, the body needs strength and muscle mass to perform.
Corrective Exercises with Bodyweight Workouts
Corrective exercises such as foam rolling, chest opener stretches, thoracic spine rotations, cat camels, and single-leg hip extensions are great to incorporate into bodyweight programs.
Depending on a client’s goals and issues, you must design a program accordingly. With certain mobility issues that arise in shoulders, knees, or hips, you need to be able to recognize and direct the client to a safer environment. In doing so, ensuring the workouts are just as effective is a key factor in program design.
If a client has an anterior pelvic tilt or hip mobility issue, then performing a hip flexor contract-relax stretch would be beneficial paired with a single-leg hip extension. This is a good example of both a stretch and bodyweight exercise that is also a corrective technique.
Foam rolling and stretching can be some of the best corrective exercises to include in bodyweight programs, even if a client does not have specific conditions. Planks, wall slides, lateral walks, hip extensions, squats with mini band, and hip hinges also serve as muscle activation exercises.
A lot of these exercises use a simple mini band or just bodyweight, allowing you to pair them with a bodyweight program.
Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release technique and paired with stretching can improve total body mobility and flexibility allowing clients to move more freely in everything they do. These techniques are also great for isolating neglected muscle groups not activated in compound movements like they should be.
Since these exercises are also activation exercises and not just release techniques, they can help teach our clients how to stimulate muscle groups during exercise. The more muscle activation a client achieves, the better the results they reach. Corrective exercises like these integrate well with a bodyweight program.
The primary areas of the body to focus on with corrective exercises are usually the knees, hips, legs, shoulders, and core. The core is the midline of the body and supports all movement. Many different muscles supporting the lower back also make up the core. If we skip training core prior to a workout we can put our clients at a higher risk for injury. Many great ab exercises can be implemented into any routine.
Perform corrective exercise before a workout, during a workout, and after a workout. It is a great way to improve range of motion and will help with movement throughout the kinetic chain. Training each muscle group more than one time per week is highly recommended, especially with bodyweight workouts. Every individual client has a different tolerance for stress and the amount of volume their bodies can handle and recover from. Generally, the best results are produced when you train each muscle group at least twice per week.
How to Incorporate Corrective Exercise into a Bodyweight Workout
The first step to incorporating corrective exercise into a bodyweight workout is knowing when to implement the exercises. Performing certain corrective exercises at the beginning of a workout can be better than performing them at the end and vice versa. Aim to systematically develop the bodyweight program to include corrective exercise at the right time in the workout.
As a corrective exercise specialist, incorporating upper body, lower body, and core corrective exercises into a bodyweight workout in the most efficient way possible is crucial to a client's overall success.
Whether a client's goal is to lose weight, improve strength, or gain lean muscle mass, be sure to properly format the workouts.
The second step is to ensure the client warms up with dynamic exercises, which can include some stretching and foam rolling. Dynamic exercise examples may include high knees, high kicks, butt kicks, lateral lunges, and various resistance band exercises.
Incorporate activation corrective exercises into the dynamic warm-up to target muscles used in the actual workout. If the workout is an upper body workout then you will want your client to do upper body correctives, not just lower body correctives. This helps the client build better muscle mind connection and helps prevent injury.
Following the activation corrective exercises and the dynamic warm-up is the core workout. Prior to performing any compound bodyweight exercises, it is important to activate the core musculature. This will help ensure good stability and limit muscle compensation during the workout. Core muscles help in all exercise movements and protect our lower back from added stress or injury. A plank, cat camel, and bird dog are three effective exercises to implement into the core part of the workout.
Once you complete the core exercises, it is time for the main workout. Compound movements are the best to do throughout the bodyweight workout because they target many different muscle groups at once. One does not have to lift heavy to build muscle. Bodyweight workouts can be enough to cause damage to muscles so they can repair and produce great results.
The amount of volume an individual undertakes is what is important. Weight training can be and is most definitely viewed as a better method for increasing volume. This same increased volume can be achieved through repetitions and time under tension-bodyweight workouts. Performing bodyweight exercises to volitional fatigue will produce just as good results.
No matter if a client is involved in a weight training program or bodyweight training program they will not experience results unless they push their body to technical failure. To do this with weight training, you increase the load; with bodyweight training, you use gravity and more repetitions to increase stress on the body to force adaptation.
If you are looking to implement corrective exercise into your clients’ programs then you must explore the Corrective Exercise Specialist course. In this course, you will learn how to test for movement dysfunctions and be able to provide clients the necessary steps to fix the issues they have. You will also learn how to explain the essential roles in restoring structural alignment and stability in the body. This will help you help your clients achieve longevity of life and optimal health.