Everybody knows that squats, deads and presses get you huge and that bodyweight training is just for conditioning, right? Wrong.
One look at rings gymnasts or a quick YouTube search of dudes dominating chin up bars in every park in New York City will show you that bodyweight training can get you jacked.
That’s because exercises that force you to move your body through space have a higher level of neuromuscular activation than those where you are simply moving your limbs. It’s one of the reasons why back squats are better than leg presses.
Some of my favorite bodyweight exercises are:
• Box jumps (done properly)
• Ring chins
• Ring dips
• Modified planche pushups on rings
• Inverted ring rows
• Inverted ring shrugs
• Pistol squats
• Skater/single leg squats
• High step ups
• Glute ham raises
• Single leg hip thrusts
• Single leg box squats
• Slide leg curls
• Handstand pushups
• Planche progression iso holds (crow stands, frog stands, etc.)
• Front lever iso holds
If you regularly include most of those exercises in your training you’ll never have to think about doing another crunch or sit up again. I remember how my abs popped when I first started incorporating the three isometric holds (front lever, planche, L-sit). Even at my leanest my abs never developed and popped out quite like they did when I started doing those on a regular basis. All conventional ab exercises were rendered useless after that. I’m sure you’ll agree when you start doing them regularly.
Now, here’s the cool part about bodyweight training that most people don’t consider…
When all of your exercises are barbell or machine based you can trick yourself into thinking you got stronger just by eating more. When you eat yourself fatter you increase your leverages on exercises like squats and bench presses. Because of that you can move more weight and you think you’re getting stronger.
Really, all you have done is shorten the range of motion or increase the width of your foundation or give yourself a bigger belly to bounce off. Yes, you’re moving more weight but technically you’re not really stronger. You’re really just fatter.
That’s where bodyweight training comes in. By always including bodyweight exercises in your program it keeps you honest. If your bench is going up but your chins and dips are getting harder you know something’s wrong. And in that case it’s usually your diet. You’re eating too much and getting fatter.
Bodyweight training keeps you healthy and keeps you at the right bodyfat percentage. It’s a measuring stick. As soon as you start getting worse at the movements listed above you’ll know it’s time to lean out a bit.
So include the big Olympic and power lifting variations in your program but be sure to always include an ample amount of ring work, single leg squat variations and bodyweight isometric holds to go along with it. That’s how you get big, strong and lean.
If you’re older, beat up, train at home and don’t have access to a bar, are on the road a lot, or just want to take a few months and get out of the gym and train outside for a while (as I do for 3-4 months every year) then a complete bodyweight only training program would be perfect for you.
The older I get the more phases of bodyweight only training I do each year. I feel great when doing so and never lose an ounce of size or strength. It also forces me to watch my diet a bit closer because I don’t want to see any drop in performance.
Start incorporating more of these exercises today and take your training to the next level.
PS. I’ve put together an awesome, fully detailed, 90-day bodyweight-only training program, that includes all of the exercises listed above plus a complete warm up and post workout and off day conditioning workouts.
It’s called Body Weight Body Building, and it’s available for instant download right HERE.