Fitness Trail: You really can ‘do it all’ |

Fitness Trail: You really can ‘do it all’

Jackie Wright (use col sig)
The Fitness Trail
Jackie Wright

Not a week goes by that a client does not inquire as to whether body weight or external resistance (i.e. free weights, plate loaded, resistive tubing, etc.) are better for building muscle mass, improving muscular strength throughout the body and creating a healthy body composition. And my answer, with an exception here and there due to a client’s physical limitations, is “do it all.”

Performing pull-ups or pushups, for example, are weight bearing exercises, and when you utilize free weights (i.e. barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc.), selectorized equipment such as multi-stations/functional stations, plate-loaded and resistive tubing, you are utilizing external resistance.

Both weight bearing and external resistance (i.e. load bearing) are valuable, may be utilized in conjunction with one another and can build muscle mass, muscular strength and improve body composition (lean to fat ratio).

This week, begin applying the following body weight and external resistance tips below to spice up your program and experience excellent results. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

Also, allow 24-48 hours between each specific muscle group and perform exercises for each muscle group, one to three sets of 8-12 repetitions, two-three times a week on non-consecutive days.

Body weight exercises

• Great examples of body weight exercises, as mentioned above, are pushups and pull-ups. However, due to a plethora of reasons, not everyone is able to perform a full pull-up or pushup. The good news is there are dozens of modifications for each that still provide tremendous muscular strength benefits for the upper body and core.

• Squats and lunges are another example of body weight exercises and, again, there are many modifications which may enable the client to perform a variation of these exercises safely and effectively strengthening the lower body and the core.

• Once body weight exercises have been mastered, although you may be able to add external resistance, the exercise intensity may also be increased by changing the body’s position in relationship to gravity. For example, a classic full pushup may be modified to a decline position (i.e. an advanced weight bearing exercise) placing more body weight into the pectorals, deltoids, triceps and the core.

• There are many other examples of weight bearing exercises; however, these are excellent ones to add to your exercise portfolio with the assistance of an expert trainer when and if your body is ready.

External Resistance Exercises

• External resistance, as mentioned above, is added to the body weight in a variety of ways. It may be as simple as performing a biceps curl with dumbbells (i.e. free weight) or resistive tubing or more complex by adding a barbell (i.e. free weight) across the shoulders when performing a trailing leg lunge.

• Selectorized equipment (cables, pulleys, weight stacks), Smith machines and dozens of other versions of functional-type external resistance equipment available today may add spice and variety to your program and changes how the body responds when compared to free weights or weight bearing exercises.

• There are hundreds of exercise variations possible with external resistance equipment.

Regardless how strong you may become, the amount of weight you may lift, push or pull is finite due to muscular and structural limitations of every body. Consequently, “doing it all” provides the body with continual stress and adaptation opportunities, helps to prevent boredom, overuse injuries, plateaus and may create incredible, lifelong results.

Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Mountain Life Fitness in Granby. She may be reached at or via email at

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