Change the Terrain
Get Back to Basics with Bodyweight Training
By: Coach PK Mills
Team Strong Athlete
From park bench pushups and monkey bar lifts to open air runs, fitness experts say the workout possibilities of playgrounds and parks are worth the consideration of even the most diehard gym users.
During the warm, waning summer days, ditch the weights and take it outdoors for some fresh air workouts and channel your inner child.
One of the biggest mistakes athletes (from novice to advanced) make is neglecting bodyweight training in their programs. Everyone is so quick these days to start training with some form of equipment (free weights, machines etc.) before developing a strong foundation. I can’t count the number of times I’ve observed a young athlete who can barely complete 5 push ups with good form doing set after set on the barbell bench press or worse, the cable crossover.
Don’t get me wrong; I am the biggest advocate of free weight training. Barbells and dumbbells are definitely my cup of tea. I also think many machines have a very important role in the training programs of athletes. However, bodyweight training in my view is way underrated. An athlete who has mastery of his or her own bodyweight has greater strength potential, will get hurt less often, and will in all likelihood, perform better at his or her own sport.
Here are a few great benefits of bodyweight training detailed below:
A few of my personal favorite exercises for complete muscular development of the upper body are the pull up, chin up, and dips. I have done pull ups, chin ups and dips religiously for years, and I strongly believe that they have done as much for my physique as any free weight exercise out there. At least once a week, I will crank out up to 10 sets of pull ups and chin ups using every imaginable grip style – close grip, wide grip, parallel grip, mixed grip – you name it, and the soreness felt in the lats, rhomboids, biceps and forearms is unreal.
Dips are to the upper body what the squat is to the lower body. They are hands down one of the best overall exercises you can do to build your triceps, chest and shoulders. Always make sure to use a full range of motion with dips – your lower biceps should make contact with your forearms at the bottom position of every rep.
try the following routine 1-2 times per week for a month for more muscle growth throughout the upper body:
Back to Basics Upper Body Blast
|Exercise||Sets & Reps*|
|1a) Wide-Grip Pull Ups||4 sets x 10-12 reps|
|1b) Chest Dips (torso leaning forward)||4 sets x 10-12 reps|
|2a) Parallel Grip Pull Ups||4 sets x 10-12 reps|
|2b) TRX Chest Flyes||4 sets x 10-12 reps|
|3a) TRX Biceps Curls||2 sets x AMAP (as many as possible)|
|3b) Close-Grip Push Ups||2 sets x AMAP (as many as possible)|
*Superset exercises 1a and 1b, 2a and 2b, 3a and 3b. Rest 90 seconds between supersets.
Bodyweight training can be an incredible way to burn fat, especially when used in the form of total body circuits. This style of training can be a great way to improve your conditioning, crank up your metabolism, and deliver long lasting fat burning effects, especially after your workout is completed. In my experience, these types of workouts are great for building up your work capacity, which in turn will enable you to train harder and more intensely during your free weight workouts. They are also more fun than long, boring steady-state cardio and will not burn off your hard earned muscle mass.
Regularly perform exercises like chin-ups, pull-ups, dips and push-ups to improve strength, muscle mass and build muscular endurance. And don’t forget that bodyweight exercises are an awesome way to burn fat. Barbells and dumbbells are key, but don’t neglect simple bodyweight exercises either!