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.

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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

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