In this series of articles we are going to take a look at the top ten fitness trends for 2023 as created for the annual ACSM’s (American College of Sports Medicine) Health & Fitness Journal worldwide survey 
The survey list actually covers 20 fitness trends as collated as part of the survey, but we’re just going to focus on the Top 10 and dive specifically into some background information about the trend, how it can benefit you as a fitness consumer, as a fitness professional and also add some general guidance and / or recommendations.
So here we go… Its Number 3 on the List: Body Weight Training
This dynamic approach combines multiplane body weight movements with neuromotor exercises, putting your own body weight to work as the primary resistance. The beauty of body weight training lies in its simplicity – it requires minimal equipment and space, making it an affordable and practical way to achieve your fitness goals.
Body weight training burst onto the fitness scene in 2013, quickly climbing to the #3 spot in trend rankings. Its ascent continued, reaching #2 in 2017, #4 in 2018, and #5 in 2019, before briefly dropping to #7 in 2020. However, it roared back to prominence, securing the #3 spot in 2021, and even though it dipped to #8 in 2022, its undeniable effectiveness keeps it firmly on the radar.
While body weight training isn’t new, it only gained recognition as a defined trend in the last decade. As it continues to captivate fitness enthusiasts worldwide, there’s no doubt that this timeless yet contemporary approach to exercise is here to stay.
Just like Strength Training with Free Weights (Number 2 on the list), the history of body weight training in the fitness industry is a tale of ancient origins, modern resurgence, and enduring popularity. The Greeks, in particular, integrated gymnastics and callisthenics into their daily lives, laying the foundation for what we now call body weight training.
Callisthenics, derived from the Greek words “kalos” (meaning beauty) and “sthenos” (meaning strength), is a form of exercise that utilises one’s body weight for resistance and requires minimal equipment. Its origins can be traced back to ancient Greece, where it was an integral part of physical education for warriors and athletes. The Greeks believed that a harmonious blend of strength and aesthetics was essential for a well-rounded individual, hence the name.
In ancient Greece, callisthenics exercises included activities like push-ups, squats, planks, and various bodyweight movements. These exercises aimed to enhance physical performance and cultivate the ideal of the “kalokagathia” or beautiful and virtuous physique.
Over time, callisthenics spread across cultures and adapted to different fitness philosophies. In the 19th century, it gained popularity in Europe and the United States as a form of gymnastics, emphasising grace and strength. During this period, individuals performed intricate routines on equipment like parallel bars and rings, showcasing their athleticism and artistry.
In recent decades, callisthenics has experienced a resurgence in popularity, particularly in the fitness industry. It offers several advantages that appeal to modern fitness enthusiasts.
The current use of callisthenics in the fitness industry is multifaceted. It is widely practised in bodyweight training routines, CrossFit, and street workout disciplines. Callisthenics parks, outdoor facilities equipped with bars and platforms, have also become increasingly common in urban areas, fostering a sense of community among enthusiasts.
Moreover, social media platforms have played a pivotal role in popularising callisthenics, with practitioners showcasing their impressive feats of strength and agility, inspiring others to take up the discipline. Additionally, callisthenics competitions and events have emerged, providing a platform for athletes to demonstrate their skills and creativity.
Bodyweight training is a convenient, effective, and versatile workout regimen. Unlike traditional gym workouts that rely on machines and equipment, bodyweight training leverages your own body as resistance, offering a myriad of benefits that can transform your health, body shape, and physical fitness.
Let’s dive into three key advantages and explore the liberating aspect of working out anywhere:
What truly sets bodyweight training apart is its accessibility. You can perform these exercises anywhere, whether it’s in your living room, a park, or a hotel room while travelling. The absence of equipment means no excuses – your fitness journey is always within reach.
Here, we explore how Fitness Professionals (Personal Trainers (PTs), Fitness Instructors, and Strength and Conditioning Coaches) can leverage the benefits of bodyweight training and seamlessly incorporate it into their clients’ programs.
Helpful Tips for Fitness Professionals:
Bodyweight training, especially when it incorporates primal movement patterns (pushing, pulling, squatting, lunging, bending, and rotating), can be a game-changer in your fitness journey. These fundamental movements mimic the actions our ancestors needed for survival and are integral for overall functional strength and mobility.
Here’s how you can make the best use of bodyweight training in your gym program:
Regardless of what stage you are at with your health and fitness journey, I always find the K.I.S.S (Keep It Super Simple) principle to program design works best… there’s no need to over complicate things!
Here are three Bodyweight Training programs tailored for beginners, intermediates, and advanced clients. Remember to consult with a fitness professional or physician before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or concerns.
Beginner Bodyweight Training Program:
Duration: 8-12 weeks
Weeks 1-4 (Foundation Building):
Push-Ups: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
Bodyweight Squats: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Plank: 3 sets of 20-30 seconds
Walking: 30 minutes of brisk walking on non-training days
Weeks 5-8 (Progression):
Incline Push-Ups: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
Bodyweight Lunges: 3 sets of 10-12 reps per leg
Side Plank: 3 sets of 20-30 seconds per side
Walking: 30-45 minutes of brisk walking on non-training days
Intermediate Bodyweight Training Program:
Duration: 8-12 weeks
Weeks 1-4 (Strength Building):
Push-Ups: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
Bodyweight Squats: 4 sets of 12-15 reps
Plank: 3 sets of 30-40 seconds
Jumping Jacks: 3 sets of 30 seconds on training days
Brisk Walking or Light Jogging: 30-45 minutes on non-training days
Weeks 5-8 (Progressive Overload):
Diamond Push-Ups: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
Pistol Squats (Assisted if necessary): 4 sets of 8-10 reps per leg
Russian Twists: 3 sets of 15-20 reps
Jumping Jacks or Burpees: 4 sets of 30 seconds on training days
Brisk Walking or Light Jogging: 30-45 minutes on non-training days
Advanced Bodyweight Training Program:
Duration: Ongoing, with periodization
Weeks 1-4 (Strength & Skill Focus):
Handstand Push-Ups: 4 sets of 6-8 reps (against a wall if needed)
Pistol Squats (Unassisted): 4 sets of 6-8 reps per leg
Planche Progression (Tuck or Advanced Tuck): 3 sets of 15-20 seconds
Burpees: 4 sets of 45 seconds on training days
Interval Sprints: 30-second sprint followed by 60 seconds of rest (repeat 5-7 times) on non-training days
Weeks 5-8 (Hypertrophy & Conditioning):
One-Arm Push-Ups: 4 sets of 6-8 reps per arm
Single-Leg Box Jumps: 4 sets of 8-10 reps per leg
L-Sit on Parallel Bars: 4 sets of 15-20 seconds
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): 30 seconds of all-out effort followed by 30 seconds of rest (repeat 8-10 times) on non-training days
Please note: Remember to progressively increase the intensity, duration, or complexity of exercises as you get stronger and more skilled. Also, ensure you maintain proper form and consider incorporating rest and recovery days into your program to prevent overtraining and promote long-term progress.
In conclusion, bodyweight training is a game-changer for anyone looking to revamp their fitness routine. It not only challenges your body but also offers a refreshing break from conventional gym workouts. So, why wait? Dive into the world of bodyweight training and unlock your full fitness potential today!
Please Note: The information provided in this article are the opinions and professional experience of the author and not all activities are recommended for the beginner or participants with underlying health conditions. Before following any advice or starting any fitness, health and wellbeing journey please consult with an Allied Health Professional and / or General Practitioner.
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