Bodyweight Training, Calisthenics, Gymnastics, Yoga. Whatever you may call it or whichever discipline you may follow, it is absolutely vital to a strong, athletic and complete physique that can also perform.
First the facts, it is scientifically proven that static bodyweight exercises starting with beginner level Planks to Advanced Back Levers and Front Levers with L-sits in between, add up to 15% to your dynamic strength. For example, when one performs a Deadlift, there are a lot of muscles at work, but the major external muscle groups take over the movement, weaker internal muscles get left behind. By working static bodyweight movements, these internal muscles get the attention they deserve. Thus improving the main compound movement you’re doing, reducing injury risk and providing additional strength and form in harder stages of the movement.
Now for my reasoning’s, why just Bench Press when you can’t do a One Arm Push Up, why Squat if you can’t Pistol Squat. These Unilateral movements equal out differences in strength and size between limbs and provide huge strength, ROM and stability benefits. There’s not really many conventional back exercises than will trump a cleanly executed One Arm Pull Up either!
There are many pieces of equipment you can use to manipulate and use your body’s resistance, such as the TRX, Pull Up Bar, GripSling and so on. An old time favourite which in my opinion is still superior; Gymnastic Rings. They can be taken anywhere, hung on pretty much anything solid and open up an arsenal of huge strength movements that even Professional Gymnasts continue to perfect and learn more about their entire careers. Look at the physiques of a Gymnast and more importantly, the raw strength and complete control over his/her body. In terms of Upper Body strength training, i don’t believe anything trumps the Rings.
In terms of Size training, sure it is perhaps quicker and more straight forward to lift weights and slap more plates on each week, it’s steady progression and a constant increase in resistance. Bodyweight training gets to a point where a lot of technique gets involved to continue with progression, but surely this is a welcome challenge! And most if not all athletes would benefit massively from these skills and strength gains!
Plyometrics, Speed Work, Directional Change. Every athlete needs this. Whether a football player, rugby player, Olympic lifter. The explosive power gains from Jump Squats, Box Jumps, Sprinting etc will help enormously. Directional Change work with added Plyometric factors will be huge in ball sports where a change in direction in a snap second is necessary.
Inversion work such as Hanstands provide excellent core stability and strengthen the shoulder girdle, creating proper awareness of alignment. Not to mention a huge Shoulder workout, there are a variety of holds, presses and push ups to master!
A few progressions to start with:
Inverted Rows > Pull Ups > High Pulls > Muscle Ups
Push Ups > Dips > Straight Bar Dips > Muscle Ups
FRONT & BACK Levers: Tuck > Advanced Tuck > One Leg > Straddle > Full Hold
Crow Pose > Straight Arm Crow Pose > Further Variations
One Arm Work: Resistance Bands, Negatives.
Pistol Squats: Holding on to TRX etc, Raised Heel.
I hope this article has inspired you to start adding Bodyweight movements into your training and I hope you see and enjoy the results! Feel Free to contact me via www.JordanSwailesFitness.co.uk if you need training or help planning a program.