30 Minute HIIT Abs 7 Obliques
30 Minute HIIT Abs & Obliques
October 25, 2018

Guide to Bodyweight Training

Bodyweight Training

Bodyweight Training

Guide to Bodyweight Training

Bodyweight training is an awesome way to get stronger.  Bodyweight training is great on its own or you can add bodyweight training to your existing workout regimen. What makes bodyweight training so great?

  1. Bodyweight training can be done anywhere.  You don’t have to go to a gym to do a great bodyweight workout.
  2. Bodyweight training is very efficient.  Most bodyweight exercises work more than one body part.  For example push-ups work your chest, shoulders and core.
  3. Bodyweight exercises can improve your cardio in addition to making you stronger. The mighty burpee is an example of an exercise that improves your strength and cardio at the same time.

First things first.  One of the most important things you can do when embarking on  a strength training program is to set goals and keep track of your progress.  One way to do this is to perform a fitness test every four to six weeks to keep track how you are progressing.  You will be able to use this information to tailor your training to things that work best for your body.  Our fitness test will consist of four essential bodyweight exercises:

  1. Push-Ups
  2. Pull-Ups
  3. Squats
  4. Burpees

To perform the test complete a two minute set of each exercise and keep track of how many reps you are able to complete using good form.  With this baseline you will easily be able to measure your progress as you train.

Plan to take this fitness test every four to six weeks.

Getting Started with Bodyweight Training

Another great thing about bodyweight training is that there are so many bodyweight exercises to choose from. In addition to a great number of exercises there are ways to make a given exercise easier or more difficult.  Next we will take a look at the progression of the four exercises in our fitness test.

There are many ways to perform these exercises.  The goal here is to give you a starting point for each of the exercises in the fitness test. If you cannot perform normal push-ups I will give you two variants that are easier than normal push-ups.  You can work on one of these until you get strong enough to perform normal push-ups.  When you get stronger and want something more challenging than normal push-up I will give you five more options.  Check out the four progressions below.

Push Up Progressions

  1. Push-Ups on your knees using a bench (Your hands are on a bench)
  2. Push-Ups on your knees
  3. Push-Ups on your feet (Normal Push-Ups
  4. Narrow or Wide grip Push-Ups
  5. Push-Ups with your feet elevated
  6. Clapping Push-ups
  7. Clapping Push-Ups with your feet elevated
  8. Handstand Push-Ups

Pull Up Progressions

Pull-Up

Pull-Up

  1. Dead hang
  2. Flex Arm hang
  3. Body Row
  4. Band assisted pull-up
  5. Negative pull-ups (Jump to top position and lower yourself as slow as possible. If possible rest 1-2 seconds in the top position)

 

Pull-Up Progression Exercises

Dead Hang

Grab a pull up bar and hang with your feet not touching the ground or floor.  This is a static exercise that is great to develop strength in some of the muscles used to perform pull-ups.

Performing a dead hang

Flexed Arm Hang

If you are able to dead hang for 20 seconds you are ready to start the flex hang. Grab a pull-up bar and pull yourself up until the bar is under your chin.  Keep this position.  Perform this exercise until you can do it for 25 seconds.

Performing a flexed arm hang

Body Row

After you can flex hang for 25 seconds you are ready to move up to the body row.  To perform a body row you will need a low bar that will allow you to hold on to it and lower your body without having your back touch the ground while keeping your feet on the ground.

Below are are a couple of examples of the body row being performed.

A body row with a bar.   
Performing a body row with things you have at home.

 

Squat Progressions

Bodyweight Squat

Bodyweight Squat

  1. Assisted Squat to Parallel: Holding on to a chair in front of you with your hands lower yourself until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Stand back up.
  2. Deep Assisted Squats: Holding on to a chair in front of you with your hands lower yourself as far as you can.  Your but should be almost touching the floor. Stand back up.
  3. Squat to Parallel: Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Stand back up.
  4. Deep Squat: Lower yourself as far as you can.  Your butt should be almost touching the ground.  Stand back up.
  5. Bulgarian Split Squat: Rest your back foot on a bench or a chair behind you with the sole of your foot pointing toward the sky.  With your weight on your front foot lower yourself. This exercise works one leg at a time.
  6. Assisted One Legged Squat: You will need a chair or a bench and a good bit of balance for this exercise. Extend one leg in front of you, this leg should be parallel to the floor. Lower yourself with your heel remaining planted to the ground until you but touches the back of your heel.  Use the chair or bench to lift your self up.
  7. One Legged Squat (Pistol Squat): Extend one leg in front of you, this leg should be parallel to the floor. Lower yourself with your heel remaining planted to the ground until you but touches the back of your heel. Stand back up.

Burpee Progressions

Burpee

Burpee

  1. Stand-Crouch: Start off standing. Crouch down to the ground placing your hands on the floor. Stand back up.
  2. Stand-Crouch-Jump: Start off standing. Crouch down to the ground placing your hands on the floor. Jump up into the air with your hands reaching up.
  3. Walk Back Squat Thrust: Start off standing. Crouch down to the ground placing your hands on the floor. Step your legs back, one by one, into a plank position. Immediately jump your legs forward and stand back up.
  4. Burpee: Start off standing. Crouch down to the ground placing your hands on the floor.  Jump your feet back to a plank position.  Jump your feet back to your hands. Jump up into the air with your hands reaching up.
  5. Burpee with a Push-Up: Start off standing. Crouch down to the ground placing your hands on the floor.  Jump your feet back to a plank position.  Perform a push-up.  Jump your feet back to your hands. Jump up into the air with your hands reaching up.
  6. Burpee with a Push-Up and a Mountain Climber: Start off standing. Crouch down to the ground placing your hands on the floor.  Jump your feet back to a plank position.  Perform a push-up. Perform a mountain climber (To perform a mountain climber step your left foot up to your left hand and back, step your right foot up to your right hand.)  Jump your feet back to your hands. Jump up into the air with your hands reaching up.

Getting Stronger with Bodyweight Training

To gain strength you will need to increase the load that you put on your muscles.  With traditional weight lifting this is easily accomplished by adding weight to the exercise being performed.  With bodyweight exercises you will want to increase the load on your muscles in one of the following three ways:

  1. Adding more repetitions to your sets.  If you did 25 reps of a given exercise last week you could shoot for 28 to 30 this week.
  2. You could perform the sets faster.  This can be accomplished by actually performing the movements faster while continuing to utilize great form or decreasing the amount of rest between your sets.
  3. You could perform more advanced variations of the exercises.  A good example of this is moving from squats to pistol squats.  When working on the lower body adding an explosive jump at the end of an exercise is also an good example.

Important Takeaways

Focus on the Core Exercises first

When deciding which exercises to add to your work out it is a good idea to stick to the basics when you are first starting out. Work on your push-ups, pull-ups, squats and burpees first.  Make sure that you are performing the exercises correctly.  It is much better to do 4 push-ups correctly that it is to to 15 poorly.  You will quickly see that it is much easier to take the easy road and to the 1/2 – 3/4 push-ups that you will often see folks doing.  If you find that you are not going all the way down when performing your push-ups take the time to learn to do them correctly.

Once you are able to do the core exercises correctly for about 50 repetitions you are ready to look into some of the more advanced movements.  You will see that you are easily able to make strength gains by training consistently.

Don’t Train To Failure

One thing you want to avoid is going all out every workout.  You don’t want to train your muscles to failure very often.  It is very hard on the body and will make recovering from the work out more difficult.  You want to work your muscles out hard but not to complete failure.  Training to complete failure too often will have your strength gains regressing in the long run.  Train smart.

Do the Fitness Test

Do the fitness test every four to six weeks.  This is often enough for you to be able to see and measure your strength gains.  The fitness test is an extreme workout and should not be performed more often, doing so will only sabotage your strength training.

 

Beginning Workout Programs

The following are two beginning bodyweight workout plans.  The workouts consist of five exercises that will be completed three times for each workout.

If you find that you are unable to perform exercises in the workouts like pull-ups or push-ups you should step down in their progressions to a version of the exercise that works for you.  Keep at it and you will get stronger in no time.

I recommend spending four weeks on this program before moving on to something more challenging.  The program would consist of three workouts per week:

Week 1 – Circuit One, Circuit Two, Circuit One

Week 2 – Circuit Two, Circuit One, Circuit Two

Week 3 – Circuit One, Circuit Two, Circuit One

Week 4 – Circuit Two, Circuit One, Circuit Two

At the end of the program you could move to another set of exercise plans like https://groupexclassplanner.com/20-minute-hiit-a/ or https://groupexclassplanner.com/20-minute-hiit-b/ or you could increase the intensity of Circuit One and Circuit Two by adding additional exercises to the plan, increasing the length for each set or adding an additional round of sets to the plan.

Bodyweight Workout Circuit One

Lets begin by going over each of the exercises that will be included in the Bodyweight Workout Circuit One.

Bodyweight Workout Circuit Two Bodyweight Workout Circuit One

Exercises

Alternating Lunges
Step forward with your right leg and slowly lower your body until your front knee is bent at least 90 degrees. Pause, then, raise up and bring your back foot forward so that you move forward (like you’re walking) a step with every rep. Step forward with the alternate leg and repeat.

Push-Up
Keep a tight core throughout the entire push up. Inhale as you slowly bend your elbows and lower yourself until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Exhale as you begin contracting your chest muscles and pushing back up  through your hands to the start position. Don’t lock out the elbows; keep them slightly bent

Russian Twist
Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet together, lifted a few inches off the floor. With the back at a 45-degree angle from the ground, move the arms from one side to another in a twisting motion. Here, slow and steady wins the race: The slower the twist, the deeper the burn.

Squat
Stand with the feet parallel or turned out 15 degrees—whatever is most comfortable. Slowly start to crouch by bending the hips and knees until the thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Make sure the heels do not rise off the floor. Press through the heels to return to a standing position.

Triceps Dip
Get seated near a step or bench. Sit on the floor with knees slightly bent, and grab the edge of the elevated surface and straighten the arms. Bend them to a 90-degree angle, and straighten again while the heels push towards the floor. For some extra fire, reach the right arm out while lifting the left leg.

Bodyweight Workout Circuit One Details

Workout (Repeat 3 Times)

ExerciseDurationTimes ExecutedRestRest After CircuitTotal Time
Push-Up00:45100:2000:0003:15
Triceps Dip00:45100:2000:0003:15
Squat00:45100:2000:0003:15
Russian Twist00:45100:2000:0003:15
Alternating Lunges00:45100:2000:0003:15
Totals11:1505:0000:0016:15

Bodyweight Workout Circuit Two

Lets begin by going over each of the exercises that will be included in the Bodyweight Workout Circuit Two.

Bodyweight Workout Circuit Two

Exercises

Burpee
Start out in a low squat position with hands on the floor. Next, kick the feet back to a push-up position, complete one push-up, then immediately return the feet to the squat position. Leap up as high as possible before squatting and moving back into the push-up position.

Plank
Lie face down with forearms on the floor and hands clasped. Extend the legs behind the body and rise up on the toes. Keeping the back straight, tighten the core and hold the position.

Pull Up
Grasp the bar with an overhand/underhand/alternative-hand grip. Then pull the body is up until the chin clears the bar, and finish by lowering the body until arms and shoulders are fully extended.

Push-Up
Keep a tight core throughout the entire push up. Inhale as you slowly bend your elbows and lower yourself until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Exhale as you begin contracting your chest muscles and pushing back up through your hands to the start position. Don’t lock out the elbows; keep them slightly bent

Squat
Stand with the feet parallel or turned out 15 degrees—whatever is most comfortable. Slowly start to crouch by bending the hips and knees until the thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Make sure the heels do not rise off the floor. Press through the heels to return to a standing position.

Bodyweight Workout Circuit Two Details

Workout (Repeat 3 Times)

ExerciseDurationTimes ExecutedRestRest After CircuitTotal Time
Plank00:45100:2000:0003:15
Burpee00:45100:2000:0003:15
Push-Up00:45100:2000:0003:15
Squat00:45100:2000:0003:15
Pull Up00:45100:2000:0003:15
Totals11:1505:0000:0016:15

 

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