Bodyweight equipment may look like outdoor exercise equipment that provides legitimate exercise results and will make you stronger and healthier. Bodyweight equipment can do that if it is designed correctly and you possess the strength to use it. Two characteristics that we call proper exercise biomechanics and bodyweight assistance are key design elements of real outdoor exercise equipment and help make outdoor gyms usable by people of all fitness abilities.

As mentioned above, the differences between bodyweight and real bodyweight exercise equipment lie in two design elements. We break these down and explain the impact they will have on the success of your outdoor gym.


Proper Exercise Biomechanics

Upon first glance, bodyweight and real outdoor exercise equipment look the same, and you ask, how different can someone make a vertical knee raise (VKR) or a back extension bench? The answer is very different! Approximately 80% of bodyweight outdoor equipment is designed with improper exercise biomechanics, meaning the design does not account for the way the user's body moves when using the equipment and the strain that the equipment is causing the body.  

For example, in an indoor commercial gym and real outdoor exercise equipment, the back plate of a VKR is angled backward approximately 20 degrees. However, most bodyweight outdoor VKRs are completely vertical. An angled back plate removes the strain that a completely vertical back plate puts on the lower back. This is biomechanically correct, meaning it is safe on the user's body and helps prevent injury.

Back extension benches are another piece of bodyweight outdoor equipment typically biomechanically incorrect. In an indoor gym and real outdoor exercise equipment, a back extension bench has anywhere from 3-5 adjustable settings that make the length longer or shorter to accommodate various heights of users. This feature ensures that the end of the bench hits the waist in a spot that does not strain the user's glutes or lower back. Bodyweight equipment does not have this adjustable feature; therefore, a fixed length is used for people as short as 5'0 and as tall as 6'5.


Bodyweight Assistance

Pull-up bars are standard in outdoor gyms, and a pull-up can be a very effective and efficient exercise as it engages almost every upper muscle group. However, to reap these benefits, a person needs to be able to do one, and only about two in every ten people can do bodyweight pull-ups. In an indoor gym, you see many people doing a pull-up with the help of a band or on an assisted machine. In both examples, the user is taking away a percentage of their body weight to help pull themselves up. With real outdoor exercise equipment, bodyweight assistance exists so that people who need to take away a portion of their body weight can use the station.

What does this mean for your outdoor gym?

You can still choose bodyweight stations when you choose real outdoor exercise equipment; you just ensure these bodyweight stations are safe, effective, and usable by people of all fitness levels. To summarize, here are four things to remember from this post to help your next project. 

everest cardio climber and the apollo multigym
  1. If you wouldn’t find it in your indoor gym, don’t put it in your outdoor gym.
  2. Design features you may think are small, can impact the safety and effectiveness of the exercise.
  3. Pull-up bars will be well used, only if you are the small minority that can do a bodyweight pull-up. 
  4. Add bodyweight assistance features to maximize the outdoor gyms usage level and accommodate more people.