I’ve been training for a few years now and I’ve seen a lot of things. It’s always the same story; people want to get in shape so they join a gym and buy a membership. They’ll either follow the latest program that they saw in the hottest magazine or they’ll just assume that they know everything and use all of the fancy machines and equipment that they see. What these people fail to realize is that THE BEST PIECE OF EQUIPMENT ISN’T ANY EQUIPMENT AT ALL, ITS YOU!
WELCOME TO BODYWEIGHT TRAINING where you are your own equipment! There are hundreds and thousands of ways to distribute your own bodyweight and leverages to make exercises more difficult. I like to call it raw movement. Until you are able to control and handle your own bodyweight, you have no business even touching a weight.
Before you even look at a weight, you should be able to do these perfectly without any trouble. If you can’t do 1 or more of the following, then you need to re-evaluate your training.
- 30 Perfect push ups
- 30 Bodyweight Squats
- 5 Pull-Ups/Chin ups
- Glute Bridge x 30
- Plank x 1Min
- Side Plank x 1Min
I have nothing against weightlifting, I actually do a lot myself, but the difference between me and other lifters is that I treat bodyweight exercises and weightlifting exercises equally. A military press and a handstand push-up both get respected equally. Push-ups and bench presses are equal as well, the list goes on. The point that I’m trying to make is that bodyweight training is extremely underrated and you should incorporate both weightlifting and bodyweight exercises in your program.
I have nothing against weightlifting, I actually do a lot myself, but the difference between me and other lifters is that I treat bodyweight exercises and weightlifting exercises equally. A military press and a handstand push-up both get respected equally. Pushups and bench presses are equal as well, the list goes on. The point that I’m trying to make is that bodyweight training is extremely underrated and you should incorporate both weightlifting and bodyweight exercises in your program.
Bodyweight training is RAW MOVEMENT. It’s probably the most basic form of exercise. Humans were made to move their bodies as a whole unit. We aren’t meant to be strapped to machines isolating certain body parts. For humans to survive thousands of years ago, we had to run, climb, jump, etc. and it looks pretty cool, too.
Why is it that some people do exercises like the bench press when they can’t even do a proper push-up? 1 proper push-up?! Why do people do Lat Pulldowns when they can’t even do 1 pull-up?! Some people can’t even do 1 proper squat with just their bodyweight, but they want to hop on all of the fancy leg machines they see in the gym. Does this make any sense? If you can’t even run a block without getting tired, then why are you on all of these fancy cardio machines?! Any knowledgeable strength coach would argue that a pull-up is better than a Lat Pull down and that running on a field is better than on a treadmill. Stick to basics.
The beautiful part about bodyweight training is that it’s a detector of where you are at in your training. With all of these machines in the gym and even with free weights such as barbells and dumbbell’s, we get so convinced that we are getting stronger and stronger. This may be true to a certain extent, but check this out:
If these were some of your stats in September 2010:
- Deadlifts: 135lb x 5
- 1Arm Dumbbell Rows: 50lb x 8
- Pull-ups: 10
And these are some of your stats in 2011:
- Deadlifts: 225lb x 5
- 1Arm Dumbbell Row: 85×8
- Pull-ups: 4
Notice how the Pull-ups went down? If all of your weighted exercises are going up in weight, but your bodyweight exercises are going down then chances are that you are just getting FAT. You just have more weight to bounce off of you and less range of motion. The same thing applies if you could bench press more weight but you can’t do as many dips as you used to do.
There are rumors out there that bodyweight training is just a form of conditioning and that it doesn’t build muscle. This is not true at all, many people in jail have no equipment whatsoever, but they come out looking better than 90% of the people who go to the gym. Type in street workouts on YouTube and you’ll see people doing crazy bodyweight exercises in parks and most of these people probably can’t even afford a gym membership (neither do they care). There’s a big misunderstanding nowadays that you have to belong to a gym to be big and strong. I look up to guys like Hershel Walker who didn’t train with weights and he has one of the best physiques of all time in my opinion. His workouts consisted of a lot of Pushups, Pull-ups, sprints and other forms of bodyweight exercises.
I will be making many more articles going into detail on the importance of bodyweight training. This article was just to point out that people shouldn’t do weight training exercises if they can’t even control their own bodies. It does make sense: if you can’t even control internal resistance, how can you control external resistance? No matter what program you are following, always remember to add in some bodyweight exercises, they will also keep you honest and healthy. Don’t underestimate this form of training if you want to have a well-functioning body. My next article will discuss my top 10 favorite body weight exercises, so stay tuned.