Franco Columbu was a BEAST when it came to pull ups.
He cranked them from all angles AND added weight to them as well.
High reps AND low reps. Reminds me of my OLD Bodybuilding training partner.... We almost always began our workouts with chins and progressed to weighted chins.
He would build up to chin ups with THREE 45 lb plates strapped to a weight belt.
His back was THICK! It freaked people out! Heavy Chins and HEAVY barbell rows were his ticket.
Back to the legend of Franco Columbu.....
He was also a BEAST when it came to lifting heavy..... NOT just lifting heavy free weights, but also, heavy objects of ALL sorts, like cars (if you recall he moved a small car while in Italy in the film 'Pumping Iron').
When I was a young kid, The World's Strongest Man was televised on national TV (not cable) and I got to see Franco running with a refrigerator on his back (until his knee was dislocated) and saw him bending steel over his head and in his mouth.
I'm NOT gonna tell you can get jacked like Franco on bodyweight training alone, nor am I so ignorant to think he achieved his build naturally. BUT..... this doesn't mean we can't learn from Franco, one of the strongest AND most athletic bodybuilders and strongmen of the Golden Era.
I believe to get jacked you gotta crank a solid foundation of heavy free weights and / or, lifting of heavy objects in some way, shape or form.
You're NOT gonna build the type of muscle density and thickness through bodyweight alone UNLESS you have LOTS of volume of bodyweight training under your belt, as do gymnasts who have been training for hours a day, years on end.
Does this mean you give up and cry?
If you're committed to bodyweight training, there are ways to build muscle with bodyweight only workouts, the problem is, NOT enough people go beyond bodyweight training alone.
They do NOT add weight to their bodyweight exercise via bands, chains, weight belts, etc. - once you're strong enough, it's time to start loading your bodyweight workouts and the muscle building process WILL speed up BIG time.
You can see in this Video how I add intensity to my Bodyweight exercises with added weight / resistance.
BUT, maybe you DON'T wanna get jacked up like Franco and prefer more of an athletic build, less bulk to carry around and less opportunity of getting injured or feeling sore from lifting heavy.
This would be more along the lines of a Herschel Walker type workout.
You can STILL lift heavy with LOW volume, but instead, do these 3 Things:
1) Blend in ONE powerlifting or odd object lift before hitting your bodyweight workouts2 or 3 x week. Hit a 5 x 5 or something similar with a squat or deadlift variation, or a press variation and then crank your bodyweight workout.
I describe this system in full detail along with a detailed training program for you to follow inside Bodyweight Bodybuilding Secrets
Here's an example of 5 x 5 Lift + Bodyweight Workout:
1) Zercher Squat 5 x 5
2A) Weighted Pull Ups 5 x 3 - 6 reps
2B) Plyo Push Ups 5 x 3 - 6 reps
3) Lunge Jumps 3 x 5 / 5 reps each leg
4) 1/2 Mile Run AFAP
5) Ab Work: Leg raise variations x 50 reps total (Hanging Leg Raise, V Ups, Dip Bar Leg Raise)
2) Adjust your caloric intake and limit carbs. Focus on moderate amounts of protein and increase your veggies.
My preference is to have a BIG salad at lunch and / or dinner with some form of meat or fish on top. This will help you lean out.
3) Incorporate sprints of all types 2 - 3 x week: hills, through trails, and varied distances. I also like hitting short runs such as 1 mile runs, these are great and do NOT limit your strength gains or interfere with adding muscle.
Give the workouts above a regular practice for at least 4 weeks and let me know how it went for you, post your comments below, I love hearing from you.
Or, if you love Bodyweight Training, you will Love The Bodyweight Bodybuilding training course, Click HERE for details.
Great article Zack – got me pumped for my workout this afternoon. While I have not had access to a gym I have had to get creative so have been looking through your stuff for inspiration, so keep it coming!
@Andrew: Andrew, hells yea bro, ALL you need is a barbell and the ability to crank bodyweight training.
If not a barbell, make yourself a sandbag
Ronnie T says
Hey Zac….What an all around guy you are…..You really know how to set your life’s priorities and get them done on a daily consistent basis….These articles get me jacked up to add variety to my workouts and operating at peak-performance levels…Thanks for keeping the iron game alive and well…I’m 61 and a living example of lifelong lifting…..
@Ronnie T: Ronnie BIG thnx for suuch kind words, my brutha.
Yep, gotta keep the balance my man, staying healthy is # 1 priority.
This is why I LOVE old school Strength & Health magazines!
I think bodyweight exercises are great and are critical to every program. But you are right, doing them alone isn’t the answer if you want to get big and strong. Sure you will be fine if you want to get into shape, but your time is not spent wisely if all you do is bodyweight exercises.
@Jason: Jason, you can accelerate the bodyweight strength and muscle building by learning the Westside System
Use bodyweight w/added resistance for strength, fast reps for speed, high reps for muscle building and circuits for GPP
It takes bodyweight to a WHOLE NEW level!
I’m sorry Zach but limiting carbs if you’re an athlete is a huge no no.
@ptotheb: hey bro, these 3 tips are NOT listed as being for the athlete, rather for those trying to stay lean AND look like an athlete rather than Franco / bulked up.
Can’t wait to get my copy and combine the methodologies with the ones presented in the Underground Strength Training system I purchased earlier last year….
@Leia: Awesome, the workouts in http://BodyweightBodybuildingSecrets.com are legit and the program design behind it is what kicks things into overdrive…..
Keep me posted!
I started cranking your bodyweight bodybuilding course when i hit a rut in my convict conditioning program and the results are great! I have broken previous records and improved my conditioning. Your new course is killer man.
But what if i want to get rugged up like the guy on the picture, i know it takes lots of time but do you recommend me doing something else?
Jim Thompson says
Awesome man. I love these kinds of sessions. Lift heavy then work your ass off.
That’s a killer combo of exercises!
That’s exactly what I am doing and what I believe in. Moving heavy weights PLUS doing bodyweight training for speed. I need to add sprints to my workouts again, that’s the part were I begin to get lazy after a while…
Frank DiMeo says
Definitely a believer in this strategy!