Bodyweight bonanza!

Recently I’ve been adding more bodyweight exercises to my training. I used to do quite a bit of BW-stuff, and I’d forgotten why. I hope I’ll keep the memory fresh this time around. I’ve also pulled up my old copy of this book:

I think it’s a really great book that’s easy to read, practically oriented and informative. It has 60 different progressions split into 6 exercise categories plus tons of other great information. With BW-training – inspiration for exercises is key as minor changes in leverages can make a movement a lot harder/easier and help you progress. I’ve also ordered a couple of other books as well as bought a couple of apps (I’ve provided links to these at the bottom).

What’s so good about bodyweight training, you might ask?

  1. Controlling your body is essential in pretty much any sport and in life. Weight training should always begin with a decent foundation of calisthenics.
  2. Bodyweight training will build strength and muscle, just like weight training. There’s nothing inherently muscle-building about lifting weights. Muscles respond to stimuli, not specific equipment. If you’re able to do ten push ups today and two months from now can do ten perfect 1-arm push ups on each arm, all of your beach muscles will be bigger and stronger.
  3. Bodyweight training is not about endurance!!!! I can’t stress this enough. For the uninformed it might be, but if you know exercises progressions, you can stay right in the 5-15 rep zone.
  4. Most bodyweight exercises have a balance/stability component, which makes them more difficult. This is good and bad. Bad for absolute strength/mass, good for longevity.

Depending on your goals (obviously) bodyweight training isn’t going to be the optimal training form, so don’t sell your Eleiko bar just yet. It does however provide a valuable tool in the toolbox and can be used (especially for athletes and older/banged-up lifters) be a great way to get some more work done, without loading up your spine.

smuknumse

Personally, I used bodyweight exercises to accomplish three things:

  1. Get me warm. This is an absolute must for everybody. I go through a list of about ten exercises I find invaluable. I also use calisthenics in my extended warmup. Though unintentional, this fits perfectly into Rooney’s hierarchy of training: 1. Feel good. 2. Relative strength.
  2. Feel good. There’s something almost magical about calisthenics that makes you feel better. They also usually force you to stabilize most of your body, which is a great way to strengthen yourself from feet to forehead.
  3. Cardio. A handful of rounds of something as simple as push ups, squats and sit ups will make you sweat and breathe hard. Just don’t go full retard and do insanely high reps – even though you’re just using BW, you can still get (very) sore. This is particularly true for lunges.

How does it fit in a “regular” training program?

  • As your first or second supportive exercise after the main lifts
  • Instead of everything but the main lift when deloading
  • On a separate weekly training day at home
  • As a short cardio piece at the end of a session

I don’t think anyone should go 100% BW, but I do think it’s a great supplemental way to train. It also has the added benefit of being pretty much the only kind of training where you get stronger as you lose weight, which is great motivation when you’re recomping.

Recommended books/apps:
You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises

Gorilla Workout app – great inspiration for short BW circuits. I use these for cardio and extra abz.

Sworkit – another great little tool. I particularly like the 5 minute stretch. Yay wellness.

Rooney’s Pushup Warrior – has a billion different pushup variations

Taking action

On my travels around the net, I’ve run into a Chinese proverb I really like:

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago or today

Which basically boils down to “get up and take action”. See sitting around waiting for somebody else to come and rescue you, isn’t going to cut it. Taking charge and acting on your dreams on the other hand, is a great way to put yourself in a position to be successful.

It’ll also put you in a position to run headfirst into an obstacle, but making mistakePuzzled-by-Taking-Actions is a natural part of getting better at something.

Also, problems very rarely go away by themselves, so instead of worrying, you might as well get up and do something about it. The sooner you act, the faster you’ll be back on your couch enjoying life with one stressful element less.

So while everybody else sits at home waiting for good things to happen, you’ll be outthere making them happen. Not only will it lead to good things actually happening, but it’ll also lead to a sense of fulfillment when you harvest the fruit of your labors. Yay!

You don’t have to start with the world – baby steps will get you there eventually. Maybe organize your socks today, get started on a daily stretching routine, go out and do some cardio or start being nice to random people. Whatever floats your boat, just go out and do it!

 

Breakfast

“Breakfast is by far the most important meal of the day”.

“Eat like a King in the morning, like a prince during the day and like a beggar at night”.

“A good breakfast will keep you going all through the day”.

The myths are plentiful when it comes to breakfast and most of them are (just like this post :D) based on a heavy dose of broscience.

Here’s what I have for breakfast most days:

coffee espresso

A short, strong coffee (sometimes with full fat cream). That’s it.

There’s been tons of research done on fasting diets and 6 a day diets (meals, not fruit) and both “work”. Unless you’re a competitive bodybuilder preparing for a show it really doesn’t matter. Eat when you’re hungry and eat until you’re ~80% full. That should pretty much do the trick, provided your nutrition is relatively good.

If you find your weight dropping or increasing, you obviously need to adjust. I’d look at cleaning up the diet first and portion size second. That should fix the problem for most people.

My recommendation is really not a recommendation at all – figure out what works for you, and stick to it. Either way, I suggest you try some kind of fasting for a period of a month or so. It’s obviously something completely different and a breath of fresh air if you’re used to eating every three hours. It can also be a valuable tool if you have a big family thing coming up and want to do damage control in advance. Fasting diets are not for gaining size, so if that’s your goal – stuff your face around the clock.

While I’m not saying that fasting allows you to eat shit, it’s obviously a way of limiting calories for a period of time, allowing you to consume more calories at other times.

For more about fasting diets, I suggest you read this book. For more general nutrition info, I suggest you get this little puppy.

Have a great one!

The easiest way to lose weight

I give you the easiest way to lose weight….

Don’t get fat in the first place, bro!

Letting yourself slide into fatness is not good. I’ve been there myself and I wont recommend it. Sure, you’ll get strong during a hard bulk, but you can get strong without it too. You gotta remember why you’re doing this and what your goals are.

You’re probably not training to:

  • Be as strong as humanly possible (seriously, don’t even use the words “humanly possible” unless you’re on tons of PEDs as well as obscene amounts of food.
  • Feel like shit whenever you have to ride your bike or walk somewhere.
  • Get fat.

fat-bastard

What you are (probably) training to:

  • Look good.
  • Feel good.
  • Live longer.
  • Satisfy your competitiveness.

So keep your goals in mind and plan accordingly. Keep it tight and don’t let yourself slide. Being somewhat leanish makes everyday life so much easier.

I’m not talking about being sub 8% bodyfat year round, far from. However, letting your bodyfat get into the 20ies really isn’t desirable for most people.

So this is a reminder to go back to your why, and maybe adjust accordingly if you’ve gotten off track a bit.

Have a great day. <3

 

Another post on hill sprints

By now, you know I’m a big fan of running hills.

I’ve had quite a few people ask me how I structure my sessions. I try to get out on the hill once a week, and I don’t use any form of waves or anything fancy. I lower the volume leading up to competitions or during particularly hard weeks though. Other than that, I try to slowly work my way up to 15-20 sprints over and over again.

My big hill

When I’m on my own, I use a heartrate monitor to (duh) monitor my heartrate. 🙂

After warming up, I sprint halfway up the hill in the picture (about 50-55m) and I walk back down. When my heartrate comes down to 130-140 I run again. I currently have three programs I use, 10 sprints from 140 BPM, 15 from 135 BPM and 20 from 130 BPM.

I run to my hill (around 1300m), do some quick swings and running drills for about 5 minutes and get to work. I usually do five really controlled runs, then ramp up the intensity from there. I rarely do more than 5-10 actual all out sprints. Obviously, this number increases as conditioning levels do.

Once in a while, I’ll be out there with friends and then all the good intentions in the world go down the drain. We usually run all the way up for anywhere from 10-20 sprints. This is murder! You need to have a special mindset for this type of session and you pretty much need to do them with a partner. I’d guesstimate that I do 3-6 session on my own for every one session with a friend.

These sessions are great fun, but they’re honestly often more of a competition than real training. They represent a bit bigger of a stress than I usually prefer anyways. Just like you go in and lift heavy every now and then, or hammer yourself with a ton of volume, you can do the same thing with the sprints. Just remember to get plenty of fluid and food in you afterwards.

Happy sprinting!

Nutritional supplements

Let me start this thing off by listing some of the supplements I’ve taken myself.

Herbal: tribulus terrestris, cissus quadrangularis, rhodiola rosea, horny goat weed, green tea, white tea, grape seed extract, celery seed extract, guarana, yohimbine, resveratrol

Vitamins/minerals: D, B, C, zinc, magnesium

Amino acids and other things: taurine, tyrosine, citruline malate, beta-alanine, caffeine, synephrine, DMAE, DMAA, AAKG, OAKG, ALCAR, glucosamine, MSM, ephedrine, synephrine, D-ribose, alpha-lipoic acid, CLA, probiotics, HMB, glutamine, glutamine peptides, creatine (CEE, monohydrate, tri-creatine malate),

Other (weird) shit: Raspberry ketones, policosanol,

Foodlike supps: BCAA, protein powder (whole egg, eggwhite, rice, whey, milk, cassein), oats, maltodextrine, dextrose, WMS, greens blend, reds blend, fish oil, avocado oil, flax seed.

supplements

You know what? This list isn’t even complete. I could add a couple of handfuls of different pre, post and peri workout products as well as other shit. I’ve taken huge amounts of supplements and hoped for insta-gains.

Which ones do I use today? I use a protein powder regularly. Not because I can’t hit a decent level of protein through food, but out of convenience. I also use oats regularly and fish oil regularly. Again this is out of convenience – you don’t really need to add carbs to anything, since getting them is so easy. Occasionally I take ZMA before bed, because it knocks me out cold and makes me sleep like a baby. I also drink coffee, but never after late afternoon.

So which supplements would I recommend to you? That’s a good question.

Focus on tightening up your diet and I promise you, you’ll see much better results. A full month of clean eating will do more for you than any (legal) supplement in the world.

I have yet to come across a supplement that did what it said on the box. That said, the following supplements have been good to me:

  • Quality fish oil.
  • Zma (for sleep, not anaboliXXxx muscle!).
  • Protein powder (for convenience).

Once you have a set plan and follow it, you can experiment with different supps to see what works for you. One at a time, for a set period of time. Supps I’d recommend you test out are:

  • Creatine
  • BCAA (especially if you train fasted)
  • Beta alanine

Keep it simple, focusing on and mastering the basics is the only true shortcut. A solid eating plan will outperform any supplement regime ten times out of ten.

One last thing: shiny labels and big name bodybuilders promoting a product usually means one thing – overpriced product. Buy the bulk products where you know what you’re getting. A simple whey protein is pretty much all you need.

What’s taking so long?

If your workouts are taking much more than an hour, this will be useful for you. I know mine often do, and whenever I use this easy-to-use trick, I end up having a great workout without spending hours at the gym.

So what is this trick?

gymboss_zwart

The “trick” is really simple. I usually do one or two big compound lifts for strength, and then take the reps up a notch for some pump/hypertrophy work. For the “assistance” work I do, I keep rests around a minute. Sometimes I’ll go even lower, but about a minute seems to be the sweet spot.

Cut the rest periods a bit to up the difficulty. It’s hugely satisfying to get a ton of volume done in a short time.