Bodyweight training. I have a special love for it.
It’s the first kind of training that I did where I began to see real results. The bodybuilding at 24 Hour Fitness just wasn’t accomplishing much before that.
I don’t have a naturally muscular build. I’m the classic ectomorph or hardgainer. So adding muscle to my frame and lifting heavy weights isn’t something I’m naturally good at.
(The truth is I’m not really naturally built for bodyweight exercise either. At 6’2” all leverage exercises are very tough to do.)
But there is something very important about bodyweight exercise that not everyone realizes.
You’re stuck in your body, you might as well learn how to use it!
With bodyweight training you can do simple exercises up to the very complex.
Not only can you build strength along these progressions but so much else.
I think that learning to move well is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself.
Even if you’ve lost this ability, through lack of use, it can be regained. How? By starting where you’re at and building from there.
Now I don’t mean to knock weights. Far from it. There’s certain ways to use your body with weights, or other tools, that you can’t get from bodyweight training. And these shouldn’t be missed out on.
But with weights, how most people use them, there is a largely external focus. It can become almost completely mechanical in nature.
If you do bodyweight exercises, especially moving beyond the basics of pushups, pullups and squats, you have to learn much more about your body.
Most people lose all control the first time they try a handstand. It takes coordination and proper body signaling and tightness to even be able to do it against a wall, let alone freestanding.
Learning to flow in your movements from one position to another can be taken very deeply.
Its for these reasons that I believe a large part of anyone’s training, at least for the majority of people, should be made up of bodyweight exercises.
A large part!
What does this mean? Well for everyone its different. It could be 90% of your training. Or 80%, 70% or 50%.
An exact percentage doesn’t really matter.
Unless you compete with weights or in strongman I wouldn’t go less than 50% though.
But I also wouldn’t go 100% for the reasons already stated.
This also doesn’t mean that every workout needs bodyweight exercises, though that’s not a bad way to do it. Like I’ve done you can do things in cycles (a bodyweight cycle, a weight cycle, a mix cycle).
Find what works for you.
Expand your movement capabilities and you’ll get far better. It goes beyond strength. It goes beyond flexibility. It goes beyond just coordination.
On that note, here’s a great resource to get started. I wish it had been around when I was getting into bodyweight training.
I’m not going to lie. There’s probably a few things in there that aren’t very good. I haven’t looked at every one.
But most of it is great. A number of friends of mine, and very smart people, have contributed to this so if you’re looking for a big stock of bodyweight training info, in everything from workouts to muscle building, fat loss to skill building, rehab to stretching and more this is it.