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The Fundamentals of Bodyweight Strength Training. And some other links on the same topic.
May 8, 2010 9:58 AM   Subscribe

The Fundamentals of Bodyweight Strength Training.

Some other resources referenced in the link above:

Beast Skills

Drills And Skills

Gymnastic Bodies
posted by jason's_planet (23 comments total) 124 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm sure it goes without saying, but there are some fairly advanced workouts in those links - I wouldn't try them without having been on a consistent workout routine for at least 6 months. And with a spotter. Who was already trained in bodyweight/gymnastic routines.
posted by squorch at 10:34 AM on May 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Safety first!
posted by polymodus at 10:55 AM on May 8, 2010


How do you think those kind of exercises are for the body over the long term? My gut feeling is they use the body in quite awkward ways which could lead to rsi's.

Whereas to me deadlifts, squats, dips feel great (hate bench though as it squashes the back muscles)
posted by Not Supplied at 11:17 AM on May 8, 2010


It's an impressive article though!
posted by Not Supplied at 11:20 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


How do you think those kind of exercises are for the body over the long term?

My guess -- and this is only a guess -- is that they'd be less likely to cause injuries because progress is so slow, so gradual, that you can't overstep your limits and take on a weight your body can't handle the way you can with weight training.

Unlike gymnastics, the basic powerlifting moves, bench, et al. are pretty easy to learn and the beginner can add weight every workout. Not so with gymnastics. If you have to spend weeks or months perfecting a move, I suspect you've built up a pretty solid strength base that would protect you when you take on the next level.

Do we have any actual gymnasts here? What has your experience been?
posted by jason's_planet at 11:31 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Please omit the "Not so with gymnastics" above. I should have proofread.)
posted by jason's_planet at 11:45 AM on May 8, 2010


I would have to agree with jason's_planet here. It is easy to hurt yourself with weights by adding too much to fast. The advantage of bodyweight exercise is that you build all the stabilizer muscles at the same time and these are often the muscles that protect you.
posted by caddis at 2:22 PM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nice! This is good.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:36 PM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've always felt that body weight exercises are the only way to go. It just seems so much more natural to me. It seems silly to spend money on equipment/gym time when you can do so much with a floor and your own body.

That being said, I never have the discipline to exercise regularly.
posted by toekneebullard at 3:31 PM on May 8, 2010


I've always felt that body weight exercises are the only way to go. It just seems so much more natural to me. It seems silly to spend money on equipment/gym time when you can do so much with a floor and your own body.

That being said, I never have the discipline to exercise regularly.


It's perfectly natural to lift heavy objects.

Your last line is why I gave up bodyweight workouts. It required too much concentration and self-discipline to gain results. It's much easier for me to just go throw heavy weights around for fifty minutes than it was do to planches, headstand push-ups, etc. That and the fact that it's nearly impossibly to sufficiently load the legs to my satisfaction without some kind of resistance.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 3:47 PM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, bodyweight exercises can be very effective, and they have the added bonus of looking cool. Beast Skills is incredibly badass. It seems to me like these movements are better-suited for building relative strength than absolute strength, though. Look at how skinny some of the dudes are in those pictures. Upper-body gymnastic movements are of course easier to perform when you don't have a lot of lower-body mass. And I don't think anyone's ever built a really strong squat or deadlift by training with bodyweight only.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:02 PM on May 8, 2010


I'll give this a close read, thanks.
posted by ersatz at 4:57 PM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is easy to hurt yourself with weights by adding too much to fast.

That's because people (especially men) have trouble separating their egos from reality. The end result is lousy form where the muscles aren't being worked properly because some swaggering twit is trying to lift too much weight.

That and the fact that it's nearly impossibly to sufficiently load the legs to my satisfaction without some kind of resistance.

Unless you carry someone else's body on your shoulders.
posted by bwg at 5:01 PM on May 8, 2010


I always enjoy Ido Portaldo's videos, like: Self Dominance
posted by P.o.B. at 10:40 PM on May 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


It seems to me like these movements are better-suited for building relative strength than absolute strength, though.

I wouldn't like to say, but those sites linked in the post make some strong claims for absolute strength. Eg, see JJ's 400lb deadlift at 135lb bodyweight. I weigh 40 pounds more and I'm not sure I could pull a 400lb single.

The thing about the bodyweight skills (as opposed to mere calisthenics) is that they are much more frustrating to acquire than barbell exercises, and in the beginning stages you see so little progress.

I can deadlift more than twice bodyweight now -- I weigh 175 and can pull 380 x 3. As it happens, I can also press up into handstand from headstand and walk reasonable distances on my hands.

Now, with the barbell, you take next to no time to learn the technique, and then you just lift and eat and watch the numbers go up. Handstand is not like that. For most people it can take weeks or months of practise just to get their feet over their head consistently, never mind to hold it or to press down and back. You do all these preparatory movements again and again and it seems like you're getting nowhere. And these skills, once mastered, fade fast. Two years ago I put a lot of time into a capoeira movement called role de banco -- basically rolling from all fours into bridge position and keeping on going and flipping back onto all fours. I stopped doing it for a few months, and then discovered I'd lost it entirely. That's very discouraging.

On the other hand, it's very satisfying when you finally master one of these gymnastic skills. Any mug can pick up some iron and put it down again. Not so with handstand Just getting there is hard work.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:29 PM on May 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't like to say, but those sites linked in the post make some strong claims for absolute strength. Eg, see JJ's 400lb deadlift at 135lb bodyweight.

I don't know, I think this kind of proves my point. 400 pounds isn't a big deadlift. The only reason it's impressive is because the guy weighed 135. And it'd be a different story if you took a guy who had a 200-pound DL, put him through a bodyweight program, and he came out some time later with a 400-pound DL. Instead we have a guy who we're told had only ever trained with bodyweight when he pulled 400. It's not that I think it's impossible, but I'm not sure how much it really tells us. This guy apparently went on to be a national champion, so he's clearly genetically gifted. There are definitely talented people who can pull 400 without training the deadlift specifically. I don't know if anybody has ever pulled 800 without training the deadlift specifically, though. I also wonder which of the bodyweight progressions he lays out are supposed to increase deadlift strength. I'm having a hard time imagining any of those doing much for the quads, glutes, hamstrings, or lower back.

On the other hand, it's very satisfying when you finally master one of these gymnastic skills. Any mug can pick up some iron and put it down again
.

I don't disagree that gymnastic movements require a lot more skill work than barbell movements -- assuming we're excluding the olympic lifts. But I think you're understating the amount of skill required to perform barbell lifts, too. Walk into any commercial gym and you'll be sure to see the barbell lifts being executed poorly, if not dangerously, if you see them being done at all. I've literally never seen anyone in my gym do a proper squat of any kind. I've seen a handful of deadlifts and they've all been terrible. I've never seen anyone press. Etc.

Anyhow, I still think the barbell lifts tend to be more useful as a means to an end -- if you want to get strong for a sport, let's say football, why spend your time on skill work when you could be spending it getting strong? But if you're training to be a gymnast or something where the bodyweight movements are themselves the end goal, then it's another story.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:19 AM on May 9, 2010


Yeah, bodyweight exercises can be very effective, and they have the added bonus of looking cool. Beast Skills is incredibly badass. It seems to me like these movements are better-suited for building relative strength than absolute strength, though. Look at how skinny some of the dudes are in those pictures. Upper-body gymnastic movements are of course easier to perform when you don't have a lot of lower-body mass. And I don't think anyone's ever built a really strong squat or deadlift by training with bodyweight only.

Beast Skills guy is damn strong at 175, though. He was one of the guys I read when I was trying to just do bodyweight stuff... but he does do weights for lower body work.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 10:21 AM on May 9, 2010


if you want to get strong for a sport, let's say football, why spend your time on skill work when you could be spending it getting strong?

I wholly support this idea...except only for Football though (where most plays average five seconds or so)...and only up through high-school athletes (because most top collegiate athletes would chew through unskilled players)...and you actually allow anybody who wasn't a lineman to practice the basic skills (because they should know the plays, right?).

As far as lower bodywieght movements, there are also a whole range of plyometrics. Which isn't a walk in the park if you do them correctly.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:52 PM on May 9, 2010


I wholly support this idea...except only for Football though (where most plays average five seconds or so)...and only up through high-school athletes (because most top collegiate athletes would chew through unskilled players)...and you actually allow anybody who wasn't a lineman to practice the basic skills (because they should know the plays, right?).

I don't think ludwig_van was suggesting that people who want to get strong for a sport shouldn't do skill work related to their sport... simply that they should spend the strength-training portion of their time on strength-training, not on strength-training-and-learning-gymnastics-skills.
posted by vorfeed at 10:45 AM on May 10, 2010


My intrigue at the mention of DIY rings on one of these sites led me back to this Mefi post on DIY equipment, which I'd forgotten.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:50 PM on May 10, 2010


Although P.O.B.'s point on safety testing in that thread bears mentioning.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:53 PM on May 10, 2010


I don't think ludwig_van was suggesting that people who want to get strong for a sport shouldn't do skill work related to their sport... simply that they should spend the strength-training portion of their time on strength-training, not on strength-training-and-learning-gymnastics-skills.

Well I don't think he was suggesting either of those things. Who's even suggesting to train gymnastic type movements for a non-gymanastic sport and what coach in their right mind doesn't use strength training for football? Honestly, this discussion is quite a bit larger than saying "throw some heavy weights on their back and they'll do better" would cover.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:51 PM on May 10, 2010


That DIY post reminds me, I've been meaning to make a slosh pipe.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:56 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


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