Veteran Inspired: Bodyweight Training
To achieve a higher level of health, performance and overall fitness all you need is 10-30 minutes, and something that you can never go anywhere without…your
This is evident when you look at one of the most badass, physically fit populations known to man, the US military.
When we think about the members of the US military it is hard not to envision a strong, lean and resilient individual who can run for miles, bang out 100+ push ups and pull their chest to a bar 20+ times…without a kip!
And when you look at the traditional training methods of the US military you will find a large majority of the exercises built around calisthenics. Calisthenics is defined by dictionary.com as “gymnastic exercises designed to develop physical health and vigor, usually performed with little or no special apparatus.”
Basically, calisthenics is bodyweight training.
With this in mind, and to show my gratitude for everything that I am able to do as a result of the ultimate sacrifices that too many of our veterans have made, I wanted to provide you with a brief discussion on the benefits of bodyweight training and how you can easily incorporate it into your training to experience the awesome results.
Why Use Body Weight Training?
- It is always accessible
I guess there really isn’t much to explain with this one, but it is likely the biggest benefit of bodyweight training.
You don’t have to go anywhere, invest in anything or wait for someone taking there sweet time in a squat rack trying to blow up their biceps while you actually want to get some real work done.
All you need is a little space and a general understanding of how to move without killing yourself…which leads me to…
2. It is a great way to learn / solidify movements
The very first thing you have to control before you can add resistance to any movement is your bodyweight.
When we put a bar on our shoulders, dumbbells in our hands or strap some other crazy implement to our body, we challenge our capacity to move efficiently to a greater degree.
While this challenge is necessary for continuing progress, if you do this before you have mastered your bodyweight you are likely setting yourself of for future problems and injury.
You can use bodyweight with numerous different approaches to continue progress and solidify a quality movement before you even need to think about adding external resistance…which is the next benefit!
3. You can make it harder without external resistance
With bodyweight training you have less forces going through your joint as a result of a lower external load.
When you use implements such as barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc. we typically fall into the thought process that the best/only way to progress is to add more weight.
I have many times fallen victim to this thought process (and sometimes still do).
The problem is that constantly pushing/pulling more and more weight will inevitably result in cranky joints, and possibly overuse injuries.
With bodyweight training, because there is no added external load, you have to manipulate other factors that will lead to an increase in intensity.
These methods include slowing down the movement, speeding up the movement, doing 1.5 reps, performing single leg or single arm vs. double leg or double arm movements, increasing reps, decreasing rest between sets and more.
We can definitely use these same methods with loaded exercises, but again, many times we focus on adding resistance than taking a look at these other factors.
4. You feel athletic
The most athletic movements are those that manipulate your bodyweight.
Sprinting, jumping and cutting are some of the most athletic movements you can perform and they all are centered around manipulating your body.
And feeling athletic is AWESOME!
How Can You Incorporate Body Weight Training?
There are many ways you can utilize body weight training to fit your training program, schedule, goals, etc.
While you can incorporate them into an existing resistance training program as we do a TOP Fitness and as I do with my online clients, I wanted to give you a program and exercises you can complete with your bodyweight alone.
The routines are ordered by intensity, starting with the least intense first.
Standard Full Body Session
1a. Plank Holds 3×20-30s
1b. Squats 3×10-12
1c. Push Ups 3xAMGRAP (can elevate your hands depending on level of difficulty)
1d. Side Plank Holds 3×15-20s/side
1e. Reverse Lunge 3×8/side
1f. Chin Up Holds 3xAs long as possible
2) EDT Session or Beat Your Time Session
There are two ways you can complete this one. One being set the clock for 10-20 minutes and complete as many rounds as possible of the following. The second is to assign a certain number of sets (say 3-5) and go through the following exercises for that many sets trying to complete them as fast as you can keeping good form. Record your time and try to beat it next time.
1a. T Plank Switches x8/side
1b. Squats x15
1c. Push Ups x8-10 (can elevate your hands or feet depending on level of difficulty)
1d. Mountain Climbers x20/side
1e. Walking Lunge x8/side
1f. Chin Ups or Eccentric Only Chin Ups x3-6
3) Power Session
1a. Plank Row 3×8/side
1b. 40 yard Sprint 3x 1 Sprint
2a. Side Plank March 3×8/side
2b. Squat Jumps 3×6
2c. Explosive Push Up 3×6 (as quick as possible, hands can leave the ground)
3a. Mountain Climber 3×20/side
3b. Split Squat Jump 3×6/side
3c. Chin Ups (pull up as quickly as possible) 3×3-6
3d. Continuous Lateral Bounds 3×6/side
All of these sessions will target strength, conditioning and will help you build muscle and burn fat.
And when performed quickly, you can complete them in 10-30 minutes no problem.
Of course these are just three types of sessions you can perform with your body weight, and according to your current level of conditioning and overall fitness you can taylor the session.
Lastly, if you do have some equipment such as bands and/or a TRX suspension system you can include many more exercises that will target some more of the pulling patterns that are essential for health, performance and looking damn good.
Just the other day I completed a full body, high intensity session of 20 bodyweight squats, 20 feet elevated TRX rows and 20 feet elevated push ups for 5 rounds. It took me 9 minutes and 35 seconds and I was smoked and feeling good.
The Wrap Up
Having a program that is the most specific for your needs and goals is the optimal approach, but the templates above are a good start. If you want more help developing a program that takes into account your schedule, equipment, current level of fitness and goals just go HERE.