Reflections...Keep moving…at home…with body weight exercises...


Welcome to GreenNote Fitness Reflections.

Each month I share with you what I’m doing for longevity - to live my life fully with joy while serving others.

We will deep-dive into optimizing brain function and mitochondrial health while

maintaining strength and balance of body, mind, and spirit.

Sometimes it just feels good to lift something really heavy. Fitness expert Mark Sisson swears by it as an anti-aging tactic. One to three times per week for seven to thirty minutes, he performs intense sessions of heavy, full-body weight lifting. Mark emphasizes importance of movements that involve the entire body and in wider ranges of motion - not just on isolating body parts.

As he explains, emulate the movements of our ancestors: jumping, squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, twisting, etc. This will stimulate your genes to increase muscle strength and power, increase bone density, improve insulin sensitivity, stimulate growth hormone secretion, and consume stored body fat.

What if we don’t have access to heavy weights? What if we are home right now with very little fitness equipment? What can we do? How about some body weight exercises? Perhaps not as cool as lifting a heavy weight off the ground or squatting with a heavy load your back. The question becomes, are body weight exercises effective?

Let's take a look at bodyweight exercises and discuss their effectiveness.

The New York Times featured an article, The Scientific 7-Minute Workout, that described the high-intensity bodyweight circuit designed by researchers to maintain strength and muscle in as little time as possible.

Each exercise is to be performed for 30 seconds with 10 seconds of rest between exercises. With the exception of the wall sit and planks, you should perform these exercises as explosively as possible:

  • Jumping jacks (or burpees)

  • Wall sits

  • Push-ups (or clapping push-ups)

  • Crunches (or knee-ups)

  • Step-ups (or lunge jumps)

  • Squats (or squat jumps)

  • Tricep dips

  • Planks

  • Running in place with high knees (or jump rope or stair sprints)

  • Lunges (or lunge jumps)

  • Push-ups with rotation

  • Side planks

Push up

squat

What makes this work?

Scientists have shown that just a few minutes of training at a high intensity can produce similar changes within the muscle as would be seen with several hours of bike riding or running. A couple key points to the benefits are that the training is intense followed by brief periods of recovery and shifting from doing exercises in the upper body to those in the lower body. I would also add that using good form is very important.

So back to our question, can body weight exercises be effective? There is more than one way to answer this. In relation to the study that researchers performed, the answer is yes. Using body weight exercises in an intense manner, working upper and lower body in intervals, one can maintain strength and muscle in as little time as possible.

Additionally, one could benefit even if you were, say, unable to perform at an intense level. So for example, these would be excellent exercises to do for little breaks during the day. I tell my clients to do “movement snacks” throughout the day; get away from the computer and do 20 bodyweight squats and 10 push-ups. Sprinkled throughout the day you can accumulate many reps and help move the longevity needle.

Now may be the perfect time to incorporate this into your current lifestyle.

To our reflection,

Lisa Schaffer

GreenNote Fitness

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