Bodyweight Cardio

The Truth About Bodyweight Cardio

The first truth about Bodyweight Cardio is that it has the worst name in Turbulence Training history. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I put that label on it, but I’m not 3 workouts deep and pretty much stuck with it. A better physiological description would be, “Bodyweight Interval Training” or “Bodyweight Metabolic Conditioning”. I call bodyweight circuits a hybrid of strength and interval training. The bodyweight exercises used in these particular workouts are not so intense that they will cause you to gain muscle, but neither would you be able to work as hard as you can during sprint training.

You won’t burn as many calories in 30 minutes of bodyweight cardio as you would in 30 minutes of running at a fast pace. Truth be told, only kettlebell training has the ability to burn as many calories within a workout as running at a hard pace. Think about this…each pushup you do must burn less than 1/3 of a calorie. After all, if you do 100 pushups in 3 minutes (that’s my score in the Martin Rooney 3-minute pushup test), there’s no way that I’m burning more than 15 calories per minute (not when running at a fast pace only burns 16-20 calories per minute). So in terms of “within workout” calorie burning, bodyweight cardio does not beat regular cardio.

Bodyweight Cardio – Metabolic Conditioning

That said, because bodyweight cardio is a combination of resistance training and interval training, you should get greater post-workout calorie and fat burning benefits. And knowing what we know today about metabolic resistance training, and based on Alwyn Cosgrove’s description of the two types of MRT that he gave us last year, it is easy to place bodyweight cardio in the metabolic conditioning category (higher reps, less soreness from a session, sustained high heart rate). As Alwyn said, “Your body doesn’t really know what it’s doing, all it knows is that it gets your heart rate up.”

So the key and challenge is to create bodyweight cardio workouts that put the greatest demand on our cardiovascular systems (to burn a lot of calories within the workout) while taking advantage of the depletion results from the interval-like and resistance properties of bodyweight training to increase the between-session calorie burn (like we get from regular weight training). To do this, we should use the non-competing exercise rule we use in our TT workouts. If creating a circuit, going from a lower-body exercise to an upper-body exercise is most appropriate, as is focusing on as many single-leg exercises as possible. The “Big 5” circuit approach works well for this: Squat, Push, Pull, Single-Leg, Total Body Ab, as does the Big 6 (addition of a jump exercise at the start) and Big 7 (further addition of a sprint type exercise at the end of the circuit).

Bodyweight Cardio for Athletic Lean Look

Bottom Line: Bodyweight cardio will help you get that lean, athletic look, even when you don’t have access to any equipment. You won’t build a lot of muscle, but you can burn quite a few calories and lose body fat almost as fast as with any other TT workout (of course, there will always be people who respond to this workout at extreme levels – and that’s why you need to experiment and find out what works best for you).

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bodyweight  cardio exercises

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