Top 3 Reasons Bodyweight Training Kicks Ass



This Video inspired me and educated me. It changed the way I look at bodyweight training on many levels. Take a few minutes and watch this Video I linked up below.

The power behind bodyweight training is endless and I have done countless videos and blog posts detailing my experiences in Bodyweight exercise. Although this was a "Top 3" post, the top points of bodyweight training is tough to pin point.

It helped inspire me to get away from joint pain and move towards a bodyweight only training protocol that lasted about 6 months. I never thought I could go so long without touching free weights but I did it.

You're about to watch video footage of an early 1970's Polish Olympic Weighlifting Team - and some of these guys are World Champions, not just the average gym rat, yet note how much emphasis their Coach places on their ability to master their body to improve their Olympic Lifts.

Note how bodyweight training and jump training are used to develop more power, prep the mind, improve mobility and more.

Many years ago when I first saw this movie (2007) I took note and began implementing these methods into the warm ups of the athletes I trained, regardless of their sport.

Check this short video out and see the power behind bodyweight training....

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3 Reason Why Bodyweight Training Kicks Serious Ass:

1) Pull Ups Are Powerful! I have ALWAYS placed great emphasis on pull ups - and I used every single variation I could possibly think of. Pull ups jack up your back, biceps, shoulders and forearms.

Having a strong back improves your bench, improves your 40 yd dash time PLUS, a rugged, thickly muscled back looks downright awesome.

Always perform a full range of motion of pull ups.

To kip or not to kip? I am fan of strict pull ups but if CrossFit is your sport, you must gain skill in all styles.

Nowadays, I encounter varsity athletes, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts, many of them can not perform 5 strict pull ups and some, not even 1 pull up.

This is pathetic.

A program of strength and muscle building requires a foundation to be built and pull ups, push ups and squats with bodyweight are a MUST have.

Don't merely be good at these bodyweight exercises, be GREAT at them. As a Coach, don't let athletes think it's OK to be "Strong & Useless", something I address in The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength HERE.

When I would travel to Israel to visit my family there were no gyms in the area until I was 18. Before then, my workouts consisted of an every other day pull up regime, 15 - 20 sets total and 10-20 reps per set.

I walked to the local playground and began with 10 sets of overhand chins, the last 10 sets had various grips and hand placements. I took pull ups seriously and dedicated myself to getting STRONG at them, as should you.

I still eat pull ups for breakfast, and at 220 lbs bodyweight I can easily do 20 + reps.

2) Handwalking & Plyometrics for Strength, Health & Athleticism.

The Day I Got Embarrassed From Bodyweight Training. Back in my days of undergrad college (Fall 1993 - Fall 1997) it was required for Physical Education students to take a full semester of Gymnastics, 2 x week. Our instructor, Mr. Gonzales was a bad MoFo.

He was a 2 x All American Wrestler and competitive Gymnast. From our first encounter with Mr. Gonzalez, we ALL knew this was going to be NO ordinary class.

Our conditioning workouts lasted 30 minutes, Minimum, sometimes he devoted an entire class to Gymnastics specific conditioning. This was in addition to the Gymnastics skills training.

  • Hand walking on parallel bars
  • Dips on parallel bars
  • pull ups with various grips
  • ring pull ups
  • Plyo jumps on crash mats for time
  • push ups with varied hand positions
  • partner hand walking
  • leg raises over the pommel horse
  • Muscle Ups on Rings and High Bar

I remember arriving early one morning and we found Mr. Gonzales training, he was doing STRICT handstand push ups on the parallel bars - his upper body was ripped and strength exuded from his shoulders and arms.

This dude was strong as hell, jacked AND ripped.

I remember getting my ass handed to me after Mr. Gonzalez showed us how to do full body plyo push ups, and these were to be done from one end of the wrestling mat and back - I thought I was gonna crush this challenge being that I was a big, bad bodybuilder....and I still remember the emotional pain I felt when I couldn't make it down and back the wrestling mat.

I was embarrassed. My arms locked up on me half way back up the wrestling mat and I couldn't get my chest off the floor. I tried pushing and I was stuck. Mr. Gonzalez watched me as I tried.

I was pissed! I vowed to dominate these traveling plyo push ups so I would NEVER be embarrassed like that again.

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Not only did I NEVER wanted to embarrass myself again but I also felt that I was letting myself down and even more so, letting Mr. Gonzales down.

I had THAT much respect for him. Mr. Gonzalez was a wrestler and wrestling had impacted me so much in life that when I was around Mr. Gonzalez I pushed myself to the next level. No messing around and treating this like "another class".

I got an A in that class and  I still remember the day Mr. Gonzalez called me into his office and told me I earned my grade.

Below, Tom Brands of University of Iowa Talks About EARNING IT!

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I was proud of myself for Earning that A because that class was tough!

It was a tough 14 weeks of training that inspired me for a lifetime to respect the power of bodyweight training.

3) Anywhere, Anytime - You don't need a gym, you don't need equipment and you don't need money to crank the bodyweight training at a local gym. I've many times traveled to playgrounds on the weekends or in the evenings and used the monkey bars and my natural surroundings to get in great training sessions.

Bodyweight training offers you longevity. The pounding of the joints through heavy lifting takes its toll. I LOVE lifting heavy but that stuff beats you up, unfortunately. Bodyweight Training is always there for you and much more friendly on the joints.

I know a lot of people who focus more on bodyweight & kettlebells and little else and they are tough, resilient and strong as hell.

Drop your comments / questions below.

Live The Code 365


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Build A Stronger, Healthier, Leaner & More Athletic Physique With Bodyweight Only Workouts

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24 Responses

  1. Mike Guardiol says:

    Mr. Gonzalez sounds like a good role model. Tough as nails dudes and chicks like that is what kids and clients need to look up to.
    Stories like yours keep me striving to be the best example of a healthy, strong person for my clients, or IronDogs as I like to call them.

    Zach keep it coming. You are doing a great service to Physical Culture.

    Mike G.

  2. Zach,

    Ever since I added you to my friends @ Facebook, I’ve been impressed as hell with your approach to training and I’ve felt a sort of bond to my own attitudes and approach. While I couuld afford to buy weights or a gym membership, I couldn’t justify the purchse since I travel so much. I’d end up spending thousands of dollars for equipment that I use only sporadically.

    So, for the past 6 years, I’ve done little else other than Bodyweight training. Initially, it was because that was all I could do. Eventually, I do it because it’s so damn effective! I routinely stun much larger men at my BJJ school with my strength on the mat. One of my best friends in school, a 6’3 and 230 lbs man, told me that at 175 lbs, I was as strong as any guy his size he’s rolled with. My job is often times very physically demanding. I can lift, drag, shovel, and push stuff up all day, go home and workout and still feel healthy and strong enough to do it again and again.

    When it comes to training, it’s as much about mindset as it is what you train with. Anyone who looks at strength training with a, I don’t have _____, I can’t train!” mentality will never get results. Muscle becomes stronger by having heavy resistance placed on it. It doesn’t care what that resistance is, be it a set of 40 lbs dumbbells, a smooth, 30 lbs chunk of granite, or your dragging the rest of the body over a pull-up bar. It all works!

    Anyway, thanks for a kick ass blog, the great training ideas, and the infectious energy that you shine out over the internet. Right now, all I want to do is bust out and train!

    Best wishes,

  3. Dude, this just made me want to go crank out a bunch of bodyweight exercises right NOW!

    Love handstand push ups, pull up variations, etc. Body weight exercises are SO underrated. I see it all the time- kids want to start bench pressing, etc but they can’t even do 10 bodyweight dips, pull ups, and other BASIC but EFFECTIVE movements!

    Love it! Thanks, Zach.

    -John Cortese

  4. Bodyweight and bags is all I do at the moment!

  5. Zach, no doubt dude YOU RULE, and from everything I’ve seen since meeting you and training under your watchful eye, you’ve done Mr Gonzales proud! Keep those vids coming man, they are motivational….Kill it!

  6. That video was amazing, those guys clearly demonstrate the difference between Olympic athletes and the average Joe. The strength and stability of they trunks whilst performing those exercises was very impressive.
    I’m off to do some concentration curls now. 🙂 only kidding.

  7. Christian says:

    I needed a good program to my pull ups and push up numbers up> I think the gymnastics might do the trick

  8. Great post. How exactly do you do pylo pushups from one end of the mat to the other?

    Overall excellent blog post

  9. Stephan de Souza says:

    Augh, man I just need to go right now and do some painful exercises. Bodyweight only.
    Thanks for the reminders, Zach, they’re downright priceless.
    That’s IT, I’m off right now!
    Never back down,

  10. Last summer I was installing solar pool heaters and living at a buddies house a couple hours from home.

    He had rings set up in his garage. We would hit the gym 1 or 2 days a week, and I would make up for missed workouts by using rings. Pull ups, dips, weighted and bodyweight, etc. Sometimes I’d do circuits with pushups , chins, dips, BW squats, etc

    At the beginning of summer I had a crazy-painful shoulder injury. By the end I was fine! The ring dips, especially, helped the stability function of my upper back.

  11. look in the gyms and everybody is doing lat-pulldowns and working on the pec-deck.

    instead of it, they should do pull-ups and push-ups. we need to get that back again! my grandfather, who was a farmer, did pull-ups nearly every day in the barn holding on the wooden rafters and he also had a rope! his handshake was beastly.

    there are many, who say, that you can’t get strong with bodyweight exercises. heck, look at guys like steve maxwell or others, they are very strong, fast, are enduring and look athletic!

    if you have no equipment, you can for sure do some serious training. pull-ups, push-ups and so on definitely work!

  12. Yo guys, thanks for the awesome comments, and YES, I LOVE using the rings for push ups, dips and pull ups!

    When I trained athletes form my house I had a climbing rope of 16′ hanging in the backyard from a thick tree branch.

    The wrestlers did circuits of carrying a tree log around the backyard, climbing the rope and 20 reps of the sledge hammer swings onto the OLD tree stimp. They did this for 10 minutes & built up to 20 minutes non stop over the course of 4 weeks.

    These guys became downright scarey and they dominated 99% of their competition.

    How to Full Body Plyo Push Ups:

    Your Feet AND hands leave the ground (your entire body is air born) and you travel sideways as you go down the mat. These can also be done in one spot where your ENTIRE body travels upward and comes OFF the ground.

  13. I love that video! Bodyweight training should be a staple in athletes program no doubt about it!

  14. Keith McVay says:

    bodyweight workouts are great. another good thing is they free and you can do them any where.

  15. Really do enjoy the bodyweight exercises; they DO kick my butt! Since seeing Larry Scott use the rings in his book I’ve been wanting to add them in to my routine. Soon I will! My fav bodywt. exercises are Hindu squats, Hindu pushups, chins & dips.

  16. Great post Zach! Pull ups and chin up variations are killer and I hate seeing people on the lat pulldowns or on some stupid piece of machinery. You are right though, most people think they are strong but cannot do a body weight movement like a pull up, push up, or squat. Those are the foundations of my programs and all of my clients, whether they are 12 or 60 will do them in some form. It works out awesome and they love it!
    Keep up the great work.

  17. Hey Z-
    I added some of the above drills to my boot camp class last night and they were smoked.

    Thanks for the video,

  18. I wrote this as an article a while back, but it is my testament to the training that Zach is talking about here:

    A few years ago I injured my SI joint (Sacroiliac, where the spine and hip join), closely followed with a herniated disk.
    This was about the last time I lifted heavy iron.

    It was also the time I began to take bodyweight training more seriously. I always kept fit with bodyweight, but never used it for strength purposes. Until I got injured.

    With the back injuries came sciatica, limited range of movement in the hip, scoliosis and a whole heap of pain. Serious training was out the window, but you think I’d give up?

    I decided to use bodyweight to rehab myself. Nearly every bodyweight drill involves using the core and I badly needed to build my core if I was ever going to get myself back on track.

    I chose two exercises and stole Pavel’s Russian ladder training protocol. The drills I chose were:
    Pull ups – About the only pain free thing I could do, hanging from a bar was great relief for the back. As I got stronger I hung weight from a belt.
    1 Arm Pushups – The best upperbody strength builder. The advantage of this is the torsional stress across the core. Performing a right handed 1 arm pushup places weight on the left foot, this puts the core under pressure to stop the spine getting all twisted.

    The ladder protocol is easy. Do 1 pull up, drop and do one push up, each arm. Do 2 pull ups, 2 push ups on each arm. Do 3 pull ups…. you get the idea.
    As soon as you can’t complete a set, start back at 1 pull, 1 push.
    I varied the intensity over the three training days to avoid over doing it and ensure progress was made.

    In no time at all my back started to ease up. The strength built, mainly from the 1 Arm Pushups, was supporting the injury. Mobility started to return and i gently began doing bodyweight squats, then pistol squats.

    After about a year of this I switched back to lifting Iron, just to see how I felt. I was stronger than I’d ever been in my life on the overhead press and I deadlifted just short of my previous best, although I could feel the injury warning me not to go any further.

    So there you go. My success story with bodyweight only training.

    If you want to build a strong body, you have to start with the core, build it from the inside out. Bodyweight does this, it is the purest form of training and the body responds best to it.


    Dave Hedges

  19. doug norris says:

    i grew up playing on the toys in santa monica and venice in the 60’s. my boardsport athletes love them. starter athletes fuck’in hate them. IT’S AWSOME!
    zach thanks for the sick stuff.

  20. zero_trooper says:

    ‘strength AND power AND athleticism’ – hitting the nails on the heads there Zach.
    However, I would amend slightly and say – ‘strength + power = athleticism’.

    keep up the great work (zach even-esh + blog + website = MOTIVATION 😉 )


  21. Jeff Feuerbacher says:

    Wicked STUFF! Question. WHat are plyo pushups? Anyone? I remember in wrestling (70’s lol) we would form lines and drop to a push up position then push up and “hand walk” acoss the mat draggin our bodies. Perhaps this is what you mean. THanks

  22. When is Lashely going to the UFC… He is a realy athlete not like most of these clowns.

  23. This is exactly why I do mostly bw training. That videio kicked ass, and those single/double leg bounds look like what I did the other day. I aint trying to brag, but I am quite stong and my training is mostly bw.

  24. SoCalBrian says:

    It’s all about the gym that’s between your ears and through your own eyes! BW training is the ultimate “no excuses” approach to fitness and strength training!

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