Since the turn of this century (since 2001 to be exact) there have been many rehashed fitness fads that have come down the pike again. We have seen in the 1990’s the kettle bell revolution come into existence and we have seen body weight exercises become popular again. These fitness modes and tools of training are not new. Kettle bells were very popular in Russia and here in the USA during the late 1800’s. The shot loaded barbell was also very popular up until new advances in equipment came along like the plate loaded barbell, which is still in use today. Instead of kettle bells, which are very awkward to train with, the dumbbell made its presence known and is still used to this day. I love all of these modes and tools of training. Variety in working out is a must to break away from the same old doldrums. I would like to go into two books on bodyweight training that I personally own. They are “Convict Conditioning” by Paul Wade Convict Conditioning: How to Bust Free of All Weakness-Using the Lost Secrets of Supreme Survival Strengthand “Combat Conditioning” by Matt Furey Combat Conditioning: Functional Exercises For Fitness And Combat Sports, Revised Edition
. The big question is: Can you develop a powerful body with just body weight exercises? If you read the advertising for Matt Furey’s book “Combat Conditioning” he would have you believe that you can because the great Gama, wrestling champion from India in the early 1900’s, did so(Keep in mind that the great Gamma did use weights in his Hindu Squats and Hindu pushups). And, if you read the advertisements for the book “Convict Conditioning” they too would have you believe that you are a weakling if you do not train with bodyweight exercises. Well, these two gentlemen have it partially correct and I will explain. There are many ways to train the human body. It all depends on what your goals are. It has been proven for a long, long, LONG time that weight training combined with cardio work will build the whole body and get you in shape. We are now talking about Bodybuilding, which is a sport specific endeavor. Now, if you are a combat athlete, then you would train according to what you need for that sport and such. For the sake of this article we will focus on muscle hypertrophy training, which is what we call bodybuilding. Bodyweight exercises should be a part of your training regimen along with your weight workouts. Many bodybuilders have broken through plateaus with body weight exercises. Bodyweight exercises train the body as a whole and work muscles that weight training usually miss. For example, let us compare the bench press with the push-up. When performing the bench press the body is flat on a bench and quite possibly, depending if you are a power lifter or doing powerlifting style bench presses, your body is flexing differently and your pectorals, shoulders and triceps are pushing the weight. With the push up, you are planked down and out with your core being activated, your neck activated and all of the muscles like the chest, shoulders, triceps, abs and legs flexed and ready for the movement. On top of all of that, your fixators, rotators and stabilizers are all working as well. Many weight training athletes who get stale on the bench press either add or move onto the push up, for a little while to break the plateau or it becomes a steady staple to their training when training either the bench press or the chest muscles. I truly love and value body weight exercises in conjunction to my bodybuilding training workouts. Can you gain power on bodyweight exercises? The answer is yes and here is how you do it. In the book Convict Conditioning, Paul Wade gives us The “Big Six” movements, and in Matt Furey’s book, Combat Conditioning, he gives us the “Royal Court.”Let’s go over what I have narrowed down to be the bodyweight exercises that will give you power.
THE BIG SIX
The Big Six consists of the following and they are:
1) Push Ups Works the Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps
2) Squats Works the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs, hips, and calves
3) Pull ups Works the Latissimus dorsi, biceps and forearms.
4) Leg Raises works the whole abdominal area.
5) Bridges Works all of the muscles of the spine, lower back, neck and hips
6) Hand Stand pushups Works the shoulders triceps, traps and the whole shoulder girdle.
The Royal Court
1) The Hindu Squat Same as squats but more conditioning oriented.
2) Hindu Pushups Same as with the push up, But more difficult.
3) Bridging Same as with the Bridges.
All of these bodyweight movements should be added to your training. For example: On your chest training day you would add push-ups or dips to your training session. If you are working shoulders, you can add the hand stand push up to your other shoulder exercises as well. When training legs, before hitting your barbell squats, try the one legged pistol squat before moving onto your regular squats. On back day you would perform chin ups and so forth. By doing this you are not only developing your muscles, you are also training your stabilizers and strengthening your body in a different way that will only help you in moving the weight poundage’s up. Study the charts carefully and develop a program that will combine these movements with your weight workouts. For those who are not that strong for the handstand push up, here is a video showing how to use bands to assist you at doing the handstand push ups. As you get stronger, the bands will not be necessary.
And for those who have a hard time doing the chin up, here is a video showing you how to use the bands to help you as you get stronger.
Also, go here to download your free e-books on bodyweight training. Copy and paste these web addresses (URL’s) to the search bar.
Until Next Time,
God Bless you all.