The POWER of Bodyweight Training

Why is Bodyweight Training Important?

The power of bodyweight training is very underrated by many athletes and coaches. For a long time I didn’t understand the benefits of bodyweight training and it wasn’t until I started interning at the Underground Strength Gym with Zach Even-Esh that  I started to understand how powerful it could be. Now this type of training is a huge part of my training and the training of my athletes.

Those athletes that master their bodyweight will run the fastest, jump the highest and be the most athletic. If you are a competitive athlete there is no reason to be fat and out of shape. I don’t care how much you can bench if you can’t perform a minimum of 10 pull ups.  Most coaches and athletes think that you cannot pack on serious muscle and get stronger through bodyweight movements. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Check out the physique of gymnasts. In my opinion, these guys and gals have the best type of physiques and are incredibly strong. The way they move their body through space is amazing.

Gymnasts can achieve this type of physique because they practice various bodyweight movements for hours a day. Remember that strength is a skill and in order to get better at push ups, pull ups etc… you need to practice it. Consistency is key.

Bodyweight Training for Beginners

Bodyweight training can be used many different ways depending on the level of the athlete.  For beginner athletes, bodyweight training is especially important for their athletic development.

Benefits of bodyweight training for beginners:

  • Increase relative body strength and coordination
  • Increase work capacity and general physical preparedness.
  • Injury prevention
  • Improve mobility and flexibly
  • Increase muscle mass
  • Decrease body fat

Basic bodyweight movements for beginners include:

  • Hand walking
  • Push ups
  • Pull ups & recline rows
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Dips

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgNH_9ZIr-8

After a few weeks new athletes are amazed to see how much their speed, vertical jump and overall strength improve from an increase in relative body strength. The key for beginners is to always keep a few reps in the tank and don’t train to failure. Don’t be afraid to do sets of low reps. For example, say I have an athlete who can only perform 6 or 7 reps on pull ups. Instead of having them do 3 sets of 6 and eventually going to failure, I will have them perform 6 sets of 3.

This allows the athlete to focus on technique while still getting the same amount of volume in.  As the athlete progresses we will eventually work up to higher reps but until then I want to see each rep be performed with great technique.

Bodyweight Training for Advanced Athletes

Once new athletes start to master their bodyweight, we will introduce external resistance by adding in 20lb chains, a weighted vest, perform a bodyweight movement explosively or perform them on blast straps or gymnastic rings. More traditional set and rep schemes are used for advanced athletes, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps usually does the job. Obviously this isn’t set of stone and it can change but generally speaking this is where the set and rep range falls.

For my advanced athletes and myself, bodyweight training is mainly used to supplement a big barbell lift.  Because they are a lot less strenuous on the joints  we will perform a ton bodyweight movements during the season. We also use them right after the season to improve GPP and prime the body to lift heavy weights again.

Here are some videos of Advanced bodyweight Training:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PSu_NczCso

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QP2i6O_-gC0

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljB1U0PQ1NE

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_pHDypiXXA

What’s your favorite bodyweight exercise?Drop a comment below to share.

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