Bodyweight training has seen a resurgence thanks to the awareness that CrossFit has brought to the mainstream. As a result, more and more people are realizing the benefits of bodyweight exercises as a great way to gain pound for pound strength without building puffy, unusable muscle. Here are the TOP 6 Bodyweight Exercises that you should be adding to your routine…
So I don’t have access to kettlebells here in Costa Rica, and out of necessity I’ve opted to focus on bodyweight training and Original Strength Loaded Resets for my workouts here.
Just as any program you’re on – kettlebell or not – there must be a specific goal.
#AlphaDad Tip of The Day: Have a specific strength or physically challenging goal and train towards achieving it. Watch your body transform by losing fat and putting on muscle. Don’t train towards an aesthetic goal like losing weight or having 6-pack abs if you can avoid it. It’s too easy to give up or make excuses. Train towards getting 10 chin-ups or doing a strict muscle-up or 1-arm push-up and I guarantee the aesthetics will take care of itself.
My goal for this program is to be able to do a strict muscle-up on the rings.
I can do a muscle-up by using momentum and jerking and kipping my body (a la CrossFit), but to be able to pull-up, transition, and then push myself straight from a dip while being in the hollow position I cannot do. YET.
So with a set of gym rings hung in the Gazebo and my knowledge and experimentation with Original Strength, I’ll be focusing on getting myself bodyweight strong and tying my “X” together so that i can express that strength.
With that said, there are 6 Essential exercises that you must be able to perform to make sure that you’re bodyweight strong and well tied together…
An obvious choice. But a slight tweak in technique can turn this into a true full body exercise.
If you take a look at gymnasts, they focus on doing their skills in the “hollow position” by making sure the entire front side of their body (the anterior line) is contracted.
Doing this ties together your “X” and solidifies your body from top to bottom as the ribcage is centred over the pelvis. So when you perform your chin-ups, try doing so by maintaining the hollow position throughout the entire exercise.
It’s not easy, but you’ll have just turned this “lat” exercise into a full body exercise and would have tied your body together.
Same as the chin-ups. Do these in the hollow position.
Don’t worry about chasing reps. Just focus on perfect technique – getting your upper arms to parallel at the bottom position – doing multiple sets of whatever your 60% RM is and let the numbers take care of themselves.
I love these. I actually taught myself how to do these in high school and have had the pattern engrained for a while now.
If you’re not good at these, the most common deterrent is lack of ankle mobility. (ie you can’t get down into the hole)
If that’s the case, some consistent single leg rocking will help.
=> Check out the free #AlphaDad video that I put out to learn how to do that (you’ll find rocking around the 10:04 mark).
4. Crawling (and variations)
Baby, Leopard, Spiderman, Commando are all crawling variations that will have some benefit to building bodyweight strength.
Because crawling coordinates the hemispheres of your body through movement. When your right leg moves your left arm moves in coordination with it.
The transferring of energy from upper to lower body and vice versa occurs through your midsection.
So crawling is actually a great mid-section exercise as well that ties your body together.
Keep in mind though, that you shouldn’t be consciously contracting your abs when you crawl. Just let it happen. It’s a primal pattern that’s engrained in your nervous system.
So don’t power breathe and “hardstyle” your crawling. Just let it flow baby.
5. Push-Ups (and variations)
I’ve recently added doing push-ups to my AM Routine and have seen some great benefit from an upper body musculature standpoint.
I don’t try to max out. I’ll just do multiple submaximal reps until I get to 100 trying to focus on perfect form – keeping my ribcage from flaring my contracting my abs – and never going to muscular fatigue.
For pure strength work, I’ll play with my leverage or do 1-arm variations.
And push-ups are a gentle exercise to use as a “Finisher” at the end of your session.
Sprinting is the ultimate expression of full body strength and power. It is the final step in the evolution of natural movement and tying together your “X”.
Rozanne and I have been sprinting on the beach every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning and she’s complained that her abs were sore the day after.
Remember, your abs have to stay stiff so that they can transfer the energy from the pumping of arms on your upper body to the driving of your legs on your lower body.
But at the same time you must be relaxed so you can maximize the turnover of your legs so you can actually move.
That’s why sprinting is so great…
It’s like a kettlebell swing where you must have the perfect balance between tension (strength/power) and relaxation (speed).
Those are the top 6 bodyweight exercises that will get you super-STRONG and will transform your body.
Am I missing any?
Let me know WHAT I’m missing and WHY in the comments below….