I could count on one hand the people I know who are true masters of their bodyweight. Also it should be noted that I wouldn’t include myself in this category. A master of their bodyweight can accomplish nearly any bodyweight exercise and can handle their own weight with ease. Now in this article, I won’t try to get each of you to a master level. However, I want everyone to realize the importance of becoming familiar with their bodyweight before moving on to heavy weights.
People need not look further than break-dancers or gymnasts to see then incredible benefits in physique and performance of mastering your bodyweight. Do you think these phenomenal athletes started benching 300 lbs. before they mastered ring dips and pushups? No way! Neither should you, bro. Jumping into too heavy of weights is just an injury waiting to happen. Let me illustrate.
I walked into the weight room to the sound of a barbell crashing on the floor, plates rattling and a red-faced man breathing heavy. He had just finished an ultra-heavy set of barbell rows. He waddled over to the pull-up bar and did two pull-ups…actually 1 and 1/2 I would say. After a couple minutes of rest, he loaded up on chalk and returned to his loaded barbell to perform “rounded back, bent-over rows”.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing heavy weights. I love rowing and I love moving huge amounts of weight, but I sure hope this guy isn’t you. If you can’t pull your own bodyweight in a pull-up or inverted row, you have no business loading a bar and trying to pull it. It’s not a bad exercise, it’s just not safe! As a general rule, I like people to be able to do five pull-ups and/or 20 inverted rows before they move to any bent over row. This helps tendons to not lag behind the muscles, which drastically reduces joint pain in the future. Granted, you may feel fine when you use heavy weights, even if you can’t master bodyweight exercises. Most of the time, the pain comes in the future from years of mistakes, not one big mistake.
Exercise #1: Pushups
The first exercise to master, or at least strive to, is the standard pushup. Be
able to do at least 35 pushups before moving on to heavy bench presses. How to do this? Do pushups! PavelTsatsouline made a routine popular called “Greasing the Groove”. This is essentially doing multiple sets of an exercise or two throughout the day that you want to increase your reps and efficiency in. In no time, your pushup numbers will increase to where they need to be. When you are strong enough to do pushups efficiently, your shoulder and elbow tendons can probably handle benching with progressive resistance.
Exercise #2: Pull-ups
Even though it’s tempting to just work out the beach muscles, like the chest, abs, and shoulders, it is important to keep your back up to par. To master your bodyweight, you must improve in pull-ups. I would say without question that pull-ups are the most difficult exercise to improve on. At the same time though they are easy, because all you need to do is do them. Use the same grease the groove method as above. Do several sets of pull-ups throughout the day. Try to aim for a certain number a day, like 30 or 50. Inverted rows are also an excellent arm and back exercise that gets little attention. Once you can do 5 pull-ups and 20 inverted rows, start adding weight.
Exercise #3: Squats
Here is a nice easy exercise to improve on to close this short list. Include some type of squat in your workouts. Get up to about 50 squats and start adding light weight and increase it gradually. See this article to learn proper squatting form. I highly recommend you check it out. Also, go here for different variations of squats that will increase your strength and endurance in no time. When you can hit 50 squats, your knee tendons are ready for external loading. I also recommend looking into one-legged squats, which are like no other for increasing knee stability and leg strength. A true master of their bodyweight can do one-legged squats with ease.
Don’t be a one-trick pony when it comes to bodyweight movements. Add in exercises to improve pushups from here, do inverted rows AND pull-ups, and see over a dozen squat variations here. Even start to add in light weighted exercises. Do NOT go too heavy, but weighted exercises as accessories don’t hurt. For example, one arm rows will bring your back up to speed if your arms are stronger and take over the work in pull-ups, which should be primarily an upper back movement.
What about after you hit these numbers? Or what if you already can? Well, I still recommend doing bodyweight exercises. Whichever way you train, including bodyweight exercises is well worth your time. Even your weighted lifts will skyrocket when the addition of bodyweight work is introduced. . Eventually, instead of the weighted exercises being accessories let the bodyweight exercises be the accessories.The best workout template in my opinion is an explosive exercise, followed by some heavy lifting, followed by accessory bodyweight exercises. Results will come incredibly fast if you follow this template. For an exact plan based on YOUR needs, go here.
Becoming a master of your bodyweight takes time, and very few people are actually there. There is nothing more impressive to me than someone who can move their bodyweight with ease. Make it your goal to become a bodyweight master, or at least get an acceptable level of strength on the major exercises. Don’t risk injuring your body or holding yourself back from the potential gains that could come from including bodyweight exercise. Each of us was gifted with our own gym, ourselves. I implore each of you to take advantage of that incredible gift. If you want to learn more details please visit leanandathletic.com Today.