Body-weight training is 2015’s top fitness trend, beating out last year’s No. 1, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), reports the American College of Sports Medicine.
Body-weight training—using your own weight for resistance, as opposed to free weights or machines—is great for building muscle on the cheap (one reason it gained popularity in the recent recession, says study head Walter Thompson, Ph.D.); if you lack equipment (like when you’re traveling); or when you just want to avoid the gym’s grunting masses.
The benefits are myriad: Body-weight moves are easier on joints than heavy weight training and call in more work from your core. They can also be modified to suit your fitness level— e.g., if regular pushups are a challenge, do them with your hands on a bench to reduce the weight you have to lift.
There are caveats, though. Strict body-weight training is predicated on how much you weigh, so if you’re not yet strong enough to lift your entire weight—or can but need more resistance—invest in a suspension trainer to give you wider options. Also, without weights it’s harder to isolate muscles/muscle groups for max growth.
The positive side of that, however, is more muscle worked in less time.