I primarily use bodyweight training for strength AND power. Here and there, conditioning circuits as well, using faster, more explosive bouts.
I also like to perform bodyweight training for warm ups. High reps get the mind and body working together, the joints get lubricated and all around this keeps you young.
In a nut shell, you just can't go wrong with bodyweight training. Nobody can stop you from doing the basics of squats, push ups, pull ups and sprints.
I mentioned something in a recent e mail and man did it get peeps fired UP.
I said that if you can't perform bodyweight movements such as pull ups, handstand push ups, etc:
You are either:
A) Too Weak
B) Too Fat
C) ALL of the above
Of course, some people cried and freaked out and were a few emotions short of dialing 911 on me, but, MANY others gave me a "Hells Yea"!
Bodyweight training forces people to Get TOUGH.
Bodyweight training lets you know if you can move your own body with efficiency or if you are gonna get an ass whoopin'.
Bodyweight training gives you the straight up feedback if you are REALLY strong, capable of not only deadlifting, benching and squatting heavy, but being in control of your own body.
In the video above I was mid way through an upper body workout, I decided to experiment with some push up variations using the sling shot AFTER I was already fatigued from lifting heavy and it felt pretty darn cool. I went on to perform cross over medicine ball push ups, one arm push offs and the brutal close grip push up.
But, you also noticed recline rows on rings coupled with variations of medicine ball push ups.
I crank pull ups constantly.... Yep, I eat calisthenics for breakfast. If my pull ups are feelin' sucky, I KNOW I need to get leaner and adjust my nutrition. I also adjust volume with my pull ups as too many pull ups, done too often start to have a negative effect on me.
My lats get too tight and it's time to replace pull ups with more recline rowing and lat smashing on the foam roller.
Yesterday I cranked a ton of box squats, BUT, after each and every set I hit a different style of pull ups, 5 reps each set. Even on leg day, I make sure the pull ups are taken care of.
Was it Dan Gable who said the following quote? "If it's important you do it EVERY DAY."
Question for You: What are your thoughts on bodyweight training?
What is your favorite bodyweight exercise? Favorite bodyweight workout?
Looking forward to seeing your comments!
Recommended Resources for Bodyweight Training:
John Wayne Legg says
You hit the nail right on the head mate! You get some big fat guy who’s proud of the weight he can Bench, but can’t do a hand-clap push up… Not very athletic if you ask me.
I’m in 110% agreement with you on this.
Right there with you Zach.
I tell my guys that if their workouts and training are not enabling them to propel their bodies forcefully through space then they are wasting your time.
When I train them, they don’t waste their time. People hate body pulls and pushes because they are hard and unpredictable, all the more reason to do them.
Joe Almany says
For sure bodyweight is awesome! I didn’t think so until I met Jon Hinds. With a little knowledge of excercise variations and maybe a weight vest or bands and you can get pretty much get as strong as you want with just bodyweight type moves. Plus I think it’s maybe a little easier on the joints and is very good for increasing proprioception.
If you can’t lift your own body what’s where’s the real strength?
I agree 100% on bodyweight training. I don’t have access to traditional dumbbells or machines so I’m all on bodyweight training. I’m a quarter of the way through on Max Capacity Training which is bodyweight only, and I’m LOVING it.
Girlwithnoname (Jackie) says
Zach, could you possibly kick ass ANY harder? I don’t think so.
I do pull-ups every day too, even on cardio-only day. Hell, there’s a shower contraption at the beach where I end my run that makes a great pull-up bar, so why the hell not right?
luv ya. keep doing what you’re doing.
My thoughts on BW is, if you can’t do it you shouldn’t be smelling any iron mate. Like a professor at my university said “What da fuck is a woman’s push up? Why was it invented anyway? If you’re a man you have to be able to do push ups, if you’re a woman you have to be able to do at least one to lift yourself from the floor, if you can’t, you’re too weak… and you don’t need warm up for BW, that would mean I have to warm up to walk to my car, warm up for what??” Meaning you have to be at least conditioned enough to be able to do stuff with your BW at any given point in day OR night.
BW is a foundation before even stepping into a gym, I don’t care if you’re an athlete or not or a woman under 40 or a man under 70 you have to be able to squat, lunge, push up and invert row…if my dad can run and jump around smashing the ball while playing tennis in his 70’s and you’re 20 something bitching about machines and can’t do 1 STRAIGHT PUSH UP! You’re lucky I don’t slap you so hard, you’re brains fall out of your opposite ear! People need to MAN UP and that includes woman too!
Q for ZEE: Does “Bodyweight university” have a progression system built into it?
P.S. sorry for the long post
Gewd stuff as always brother. I live by the bodyweight creed. If you can’t control you’re own body, then you need to fix something in your training.
Lifting heavy is awesome in it’s own right, but true relative strength is tested in the bodyweight exercise arena.
Keep up the great work!
People need to remove the stupid gene from their head and realize bw is not just to get you in shape but a tool to assist you in day to day life. It helps in bringing in groceries,playing with kids, lifting a car off of a kids (freak strength) if you are a fat client and come into my gym then your fat and we both recognize that. I see so Many types of people come through my gym and love working with the ones fat/skinny tall/short if they have heart. We have a quote on our wall that says “show me your heart not your muscles”
Gary Deagle says
Ill take my dips and chins over bench and pulldowns any day of the week.
A) Too Weak
B) Too Fat
C) ALL of the above
Lol enjoyed this post , tell us what you really think 😉
Girlwithnoname, you do pull ups everyday??? I need to step my game up. I am not there yet but you are my inspiration.
Hmmm, let me see what hardcore bodyweight exercise that I can go above and beyond…
Michael M says
How well you handle your BW and perform using BW training is a good measure of ones overall athleticism and general fitness. It also tells you whether you are to weak for your own BW or just plain to fat. Whether some like to admit it or not it’s the simple truth.
AWESOME!! At 275# I perform bodyweight exercises daily. As a competitive strength athlete I find it is the best way to nuture the animal side of my mind. Ya, it is great pulling big weight from the floor, but doing pullups with a 2.5 inch pipe makes deadlifting big seem like child’s play.
Jon Paul Sigmarsson once said that, “If you can’t deadlift then there is no sense in being alive!”
I say if you can’t move your own bodyweight in bodyweight exercises then there is no sense in being alive.
Keep it Rocking Big Dogg!
To all the whiners-Get your diaper changed cause I’m tired of you stinking up this website!
This is great Zach. I can’t believe people would bitch at you for saying that. When I was younger my dad made me a lot of push ups everyday. When I got to high school I became the strongest one there. I started reading about different concepts of strength training and found that I had done a very good thing for myself. Now I powerlift and I am around 260. I said I didn’t do pull ups because I was too heavy, but one day I said fuck that and worked them into my training. Guess what happened? I got stronger and my shoulders feel great. Get these obese young children in the gym for 20-30 minutes and have them do BW exercises. There’s the solution to childhood obesity. And if you want to get stronger and have healthy joints, BW exercises are the way to go. A machine for each muscle is a waste of time and money.
Hells Yeah! Since I started following you Zach, I’ve have incorporated BW Training into my workouts again. I am totally in agreement with you…they are a true test of ‘functional strength’. Just got your MOS program..awesome dude!
Girlwithnoname (Jackie) says
Thanks Margaret. Yah, I feel really strongly about getting my numbers up and the only way to do that with pull-ups is to do them a LOT. I’m doing pretty well, I can do up to 8 in one set now, still working on that full set of 10. And I’m doing pull-ups these days too, not chin-ups. (my grip is wide, palms facing away from my body, they’re way harder).
Just keep at it, I could only do ONE when I started and it was a chin-up struggle at that! You just have to keep building on it.
@Joe almany – Jonny Hinds is the man! He makes you REALLY push bodyweight taining to a whole new world!!!!
@Jackie – I can totally kick more ass 🙂 Don’t worry, more to come, ha ha
U rock 4 the feedback!!!!
@Dan thnx 4 the props brutha!!! http://ManofSteelChallenge.com is gonna rock bruddah, LOTS of bodyweight training in there fo sho!!
@Taylor what 2 be bruddah, we’ve had some BIG dudes rockin rope climbs and pull ups etc at my gym!
It’s critical to get them to that point!
Back when I first started to get in shape I did lots of body weight stuff and it was so-so. I “graduated” to the weight and spent years figuring I mastered BWT. Then I took on a few BWT challenges and got my ass handed to me. Did I make excuses? Was I going to go the “well it’s all genetic route? Hell no! I got focused, got serious and got busy.
This past summer I was at a state fair and did one of those Marine pull up challenges for a Tshirt and the Marines there said they hadn’t seen anyone tackle pull ups like I did in a week. I was 2 off from the record.
yes I’m bragging. I earned it and I earned it the old fashioned way. Next year I break their record and win 2 T shirts.
Nuth’n but luv Zach!
On days I don’t lift can I do bodyweight workouts to help recover and increase that type of strength?
YEAH!!! Kickass Zach.
I think that quote is by Dan John, not Dan Gable.
Either way its badass and very true.
I agree with you 150%! The ability to move the body freely as one does with any bodyweight exercise; is not only an important indicator of functional strength, but pretty damn impressive. So when big ugly fat heads ask me “How Much Ya Bench?” I always reply with how many pull ups can ya do? Don’t get me wrong, I love to lift, and I love trying to bust my PR’s, but I discovered after taking a 3-month break from lifting and consentrating on nothing but bodyweight strength training and condititioning, I was able to lean down the bodyfat and bust PR’s on Deads and Power Cleans, as well as Power Clean and Press.
Dan Pope says
Zach, I love your stuff, been following you ever since I attended a disel crew zach even-esh seminar back in edison NJ I think back in 2005-2006? Man its cool to see how far you’ve come. I had a chance to speak with ya at the bar after a fitness business seminar in Morristown(Boyle, BJ Gaddeur, Lee Taft, Pat Rigsby) I spoke about deciding whether or not I wanted to pursue nursing as a career and the seminar and your words led me elsewhere! I’m finishing my doctorate in physical therapy now and running my own training business (its awesome) Thanks for all your help.
A few months back I saw you do a video with Steve’s club (steve Liberati) and I must say Steve is the man and I wish more people were doing the stuff he’s doing out there. What a wonderful thing to follow your dream and make a difference!
I do equally crazy, stupid, heavy, effective and FUN training at my own home built gym and log all the antics at strengthfoodlife.blogspot.com
I know you’re a busy dude, but if you have time, let me know what you think!