Bodyweight Training for Sports Performance: Upper Body Strength, “Body Hardening” & Ab Training


This bodyweight exercise takes me back to my roots because I have been using this with my athletes since day one.

I used it in the Wrestling clubs, on the Football fields during strength & speed clinics and with my athletes in unknown parts of the Dirty Jerzee at run down playgrounds. I have used hand walking with Naval Special Warfare during our typical Underground Style warm ups (Inside The USC Cert) and this exercise never fails you!

Check this Video for developing awesome upper body strength, healthy shoulders and solid abs / trunk stability. I hate using the word "core strength" but this exercise is definitely a core strength exercise when done properly. 

Let me know your thoughts on that video, and even better, get a partner and crank them out yourself and then let me know your thoughts!

Stay tuned, I have more bodyweight videos coming your way and next week I'll unleash The Bodyweight University training program inside The Underground Strength Academy.

If you don't have a partner, you have 2 other options for hand walking:

 - Lateral Hand Walking - try 25 - 50 ft left and then 25 - 50 ft right

 - Hand Walking on a Glute Roller (Video Below)

Below are more examples of hand walking and bodyweight training. 

I am shocked to see how many athletic programs are not using calisthenics. These are crucial for building durability in athletes. Bodyweight training also gives the athlete direct feedback on their relative body strength.

Meaning, if you can't do pull ups, this is your body telling you that you are either / or fat and weak!

Bodyweight Training highlights from early days Underground below:

I see how much we pushed the calisthenics and I feel this hardened the body, making the athletes much more durable than the athletes of today who train way too fancy. 

Look in the video above, you see Football players over 215 lbs walking on their hands. jumping from their knees and moving the way you expect skill players to move. These guys were agile, mobile & hostile. Very explosive. Why? You get what you train for! 

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27 Responses

  1. Zach,
    Great exercise we will incorporate today in our summer stregnth & conditioning football workout. Should be fun in the 95* Orlando sun.

  2. Adrian Johnson says:

    Body Weight exercise are a great way to get kids in shape. Some wheel barrels and animal calisthenics are just a couple of ways to get your kids involved in fitness.

    Now I’m not saying Body weight exercises are just for kids. Bust out some pull ups, dips, knee raises and a few handstand push ups. You get a kick ass workout in under 10 minutes free. It’s also a great way to lose fat fast.

    You the Man Z


  3. Zach,

    Like the “wheel-barrel” great for shoulder girdle stability and core training as you had mentioned. I like the plyometric version of this as well ans will use it as a part of a progression for upper body strengthening and explosive / reactive power.

    Is there a handstand style progression that you would recommend as well?

    I will be using a lot of this style of body weight exercises with my athletes over the summer in our Speed & Conditioning Camp- thanks for the training resources & keep the content comin’ Coach!

    – Chris

  4. Radivoj Vajagic says:

    This is great exercise,when I was treaning aikido we were doing that same exercise+pushups from time to time and that is really tuff.

  5. Hey Zach, love this exercise man. I’m a huge fan of partner bodyweight exercises, especially when they involve core stability.

    Keep up the great work.


  6. I love doing this also on paper towels or valslides..when there is not a partner around..

    the walking pushup just using upper body and dragging your feet behind keeping the entire body tight~ YES.. definitely good “FOR THE LADIES” as well~ A tough workout partner.. no better gift~

    great as always Z-BOY~

  7. I know these wheel barrow exercises during my compulsory time in army training and these are awesome thing, it also develops good core strenght apart from upper body.Way to go Zach!

  8. awesome exercise. my boys and i are gonna have to try that one.

    keep it up Zach!

  9. we did these all the time..I’m glad to see old school calisthenics make a comeback

  10. You would be suprise at how many folks can’t control their body weight even when someone is helping them. It is great that yous hould this it is a great strengthening exercise anyone can do with a friend. Keep bringing it Zach!!!

  11. I love to do this exercise with a Hex-head weight in each hand. It really adds a little extra spice to the move.

    Be fit and live free,

    Matt Schifferle

  12. doing it with dumbells sounds cool

  13. Love it Zach! Been kicking my ladies’ butts with wheelbarrow, burpee long jumps and crab walk this week. They definitely have a love/hate relationship with upper body training.

  14. Z

    You always motivate me. Keep up the great work. I am looking forward to Bodyweight U


    English Bob

  15. Awesome Zach!

    Always great info!

    The power wheel rocks for that too 😉

  16. Keith McVay says:

    old school training at it’s best.

  17. Bill Reed says:


    Quality stuff. I like mixing these with planks and plank variations, handstand holds against a wall and wall-walking, animal walks, pushup variations, partner pushups (partners at right angle to each other, legs on top of partner’s shoulders), squat and lunge variations and pullups if there is a bar or branch nearby. Love it, Zach. Keep it coming.

    Bill Reed

  18. Sounds like a great exercise!

    Im gonna get my 12 year old brother to do them as a way to develop his upperbody strength.

    I think he will find that alot of fun!

    Your the man Z!

  19. Zach, you’re bringing back some old memories for me as I watch the video – it was Jr. high wrestling (late 1970’s brah!) and we did these all the time. Now I tell my high school athletes if they can’t control their own body movements they’re not a true athlete. Great to see you’re there too!

  20. Ahhh, thats just playing.

    Or in other words, it’s returning to the youthful games we used to do as kids, BEFORE we got lazy, knotted up, tight, fat etc..

    Bring the fun back to fitness with drills like these and other partner work, people will get better results, in less time, with fewer injuries and they’ll have a smile on their face.

    Have you seen peoples faces in the gyms these days? Abject misery at it’s height.

    Zach, you a big kid. Love it.



  21. Joe Chizek says:

    Great exercise! When I tried this for the first time it worked me out all over in the upper body. It’s awesome to know that body weight exercises can produce fast results.

  22. Guys

    u rock like Van Halen for the comments!

    For our advanced athletes we also begin this partner wheel barrow movements with 2 – 4 plyo push ups and then go into hand walking

    These can also be done sideways / left / right

    To the onlooker it doesn’t look like much, BUT, if u wlak on your hands AND squeeze your partner w/your legs your upper body and abs will get SMASHED on these.

    They are beyond powerful!

    I got another cool vid coming Monday, stay tuned!



  23. Stephan de Souza says:

    Definitely doing these with my brother ASAP.
    Thanks a lot, Zach man.
    I love it how you share this so well.
    Take care.

    Never back down,

  24. i never knew this exercise was so powerful and effective, definatly gunna have a go at doing it, thanks zach

  25. Awesome exercise! I will definitely start using this one. I just need to find a “tough as nails” training partner. Right now i’m training solo at my house.

    Thanks Zach!


  26. An old favorite from the wrestling practice days! I really like the emphasis you put on stable hips; this is something it is hugely overlooked but is as important as anything with this exercise.

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