Body Weight Training: Try This to Make Your Gym Workouts Better

by on August 15, 2010

Body weight training has become very popular lately and in my opinion for good reason. It is an easy and effective way to train your body without the need for a gym membership, any expensive equipment, or even a lot of room at your house. If you currently go to a gym and like lifting weights, you don’t have to miss out on the benefits of body weight training. I have been incorporating it in to my gym workouts as well as weights and it has been working incredibly well.

iStock 000004947584XSmall Body Weight Training: Try This to Make Your Gym Workouts Better[Body weight training is a little primal and can be done inside or even in the woods. It's kind of cool training in the woods in nature. This is a great picture of natural beauty and being free like nature. Well, at least what natural beauty looks like painted blue!]

I first read about body weight training from Craig Ballantyne of Turbulence Training. After reading his course and following his routines for awhile, I knew that he was on to something. Since then, I have found many different workouts and blogs that all advocate this type of training and learned an incredible amount from them. I was originally attracted to the fact that you can do this type of workout pretty much anywhere. After doing them at home and outside, I soon brought them back inside the gym with me, which I will go over later down in this post.

If you travel alot, you really should consider trying this type of training rather than not working out at all, or wasting money on a gym in the area. Some gyms don’t like visitors that they know aren’t going to join, so they jack up the price. I can remember vacationing in Ocean City, Md, a few years back and having to pay $20 per day to lift at some half ass steroid head gym. I was so pissed at the price and the steroid popping she-male at the counter and her attitude, that I never went back and just blew off the rest of my training while there. If I would of known about body weight training, I could of still worked out and not even missed a beat.

Regardless of what the average meathead may think, you can get a very effective workout whether your goal is weight loss, building muscle, or both. I am going to go over some of the ways that I am utilizing body weight training inside the gym, rather than outside or at home.

Some people hate going to the gym or have a problem exercising in front of a bunch of people. Personally, I love the gym atmosphere and have been lifting in a gym for over 25 years. I have done some body weight training outside this summer and can really see the attraction to it, as well as the effectiveness. As someone that loves going to the gym though, I really don’t want to give up going to the gym for any real length of time.

Here are a few exercises that I have added in to my normal workout routine that you may wish to give a try. I have been following the Visual Impact Muscle Building routine the last five months and body weight exercises have fit in nicely.

1) Push ups (Specifically close grip, although any form can be done)- I do these at the end of my chest or Push workouts. They are a great way to finish off and really blitz your chest, shoulders, and triceps.

2) Dips- Another common, but great exercise to do at the end of your chest or push workouts. Nothing earth shattering yet I know, but stick with me, there are some great ones to come.

3) Pull ups and Chin ups- These are probably the most popular body weight exercises that are done in a gym, even the meat heads do these. They can be done at anytime during your back or pull workout. If you have trouble with these, you should do them at the beginning of your workout, when you are stronger. Here is a great post from my friend Yavor about how to increase the amount of pullups that you can do. http://relativestrengthadvantage.com/insanely-good-chin-ups-pull-ups/

4) Inverted rows- These are probably my favorite body weight exercise of all. Instead of doing barbell rows for your back, you hang from a bar as if you were bench presses, although there is no bench.(I use the Smith machine) You pull yourself up as if doing a row upside down. These are a great exercise and you will really feel them in your back and biceps. To make then harder you can put your feet on a bench.

5) Body weight tricep Extensions- I do these on the Smith machine, but you can do them with a regular barbell in a power rack. I put the bar about waist high or so and stand in front of it. Grab the bar with a pretty close grip. Keep your feet away from the bar and lean in to it. Think of doing a standing tricep extension, except you are hanging from the bar and using your body weight as the resistance. Instead of moving the barbell up and down, you are moving your body and lifting it with your triceps. The lower the bar is, the harder it is to do them. These will usually feel easy until around the fifth or sixth rep and then they get hard real quick! A great way to finish off your triceps! The higher the bar is, the easier they are, so adjust the bar accordingly. These will also work your core very well, especially if you are weak in this area.

6) Hand Stand push ups- Most people don’t have the core strength of the balance to do these. I have found a great way to do a similar exercise that will absolutely fry your shoulders and triceps. You stand on a bench and then crouch down with your arms in a hand stand position. Think of a hand stand, except your legs instead of being in the air, they are on a bench behind you. You can then do a push up this way. It is not as hard as a hand stand one, but once you do a few, you will soon see how effective they can be. If you slowly work with these, you may even begin to do them with your feet leaning on a wall, and eventually someone holding your feet until you can do a full blown hand stand push up. If you do these at the end of your shoulder workout, you will be totally fried. Please be careful with these though and take it slow!

[This guy isn't doing hand stand push ups, but he is amazing! What he is doing is much harder!]

So if you lift in a gym and want to mix it up a little, give these a try. Let me know how it goes and of any other body weight exercises that you like to do.

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21 comments on “Body Weight Training: Try This to Make Your Gym Workouts Better

  1. Darrin on said:

    Awesome stuff here, man! Bodyweight exercises are so important for the beginner – you can get a better workout than most people are getting in the gym without leaving your home if you know what you are doing (which anyone will after reading this post!)

    But bodyweight stuff is very important for everyone. Chin ups / rows are one of the most important fundamental exercises that absolutely everyone should have in their regular arsenal. I’d also recommend isometrics such as planks and plyometrics such as clap push ups.
    Darrin´s last [type] ..The Importance of Walking to Lose Weight

  2. Kelly- this guy in the video is amazing. This is like ana tomic handstand pushup. Thanks for directing people to my chin-ups post. Lets get more people mastering pull-ups and hin-ups. I know I really struggled with them growing up!

    Anyway – regarding bodyweight stuff – I’ve been training like this forever (also mixing things up – Craig B’s circuits, barbells, dumbbells, kettelbells, basketball, bar training etc).

    Yavor

    p.s. the site looks great – I’m slowly digging through your posts buddy! Keep it up.
    Yavor´s last [type] ..The Sequential Muscle-up- A Missing Link in Your Muscle-up Training

  3. Raymond-ZenMyFitness on said:

    Amazing 90 deg push up … if he isn’t a gymnast then he should be!
    You say it spot on you can make your gym workouts more effective if you add in smart body weight exercises.
    The two programs you mention Visual Impact and Turbulence training are fanstastic programs that compliment each other well … get these two and you can achieve whatever fitness goal you like
    Raymond.
    Raymond-ZenMyFitness´s last [type] ..More Crazy Celebrity Diets That Do Work

  4. Whey Protein on said:

    I always find this kind of training alot of fun and alot more varied than the gym.But strangely public perception means people look at you ike you are a bit mad. If you train like this.

  5. Dave - Fitness Training Tips on said:

    Turbulence Training is a great program…as is Visual Impact. As someone who works out in his basement, it’s definitely great to use bodyweight exercises instead of machines that take up tons of space. Dips, Pullups, Pushups, and Inverted Rows are excellent. Great choice of exercises.

  6. Alykhan - Fitness Breakout on said:

    Kelly,

    I agree that you should incorporate body weight training into your routine. I’m actually about to do a post on this, myself. Glad you touched on body weight tricep extensions since these are less common than some other body weight exercises but still very effective.

    Alykhan
    Alykhan – Fitness Breakout´s last [type] ..Tiger Woods Workout Routine and Diet

  7. Darrin,
    Good to hear from you! I think that some people go to the gym and get all caught up in the million different machines and shiny objects. They don’t realize how good of a workout you can get without any equipment. I really need to try out some plyometric stuff soon. I may be hitting you up for some advice!

    Yavor,
    I always try to direct people to the best information out there and your blog and that specific post was perfect for that. I have a lot of respect for you and your wealth of knowledge! That guy is a beast on that video, I don’t even know where to begin to try and do something like that.

    Raymond,
    I agree that by doing both forms of training, you get the best of both. Craig Ballantyne’s stuff does this a lot with his Turbulence workouts. There are a million different ways to train and exercises to do. I can’t imagine getting bored any time soon.

    @whey protein,
    Yeah, I get some weird looks from time to time when doing some bodyweight exercises. I don’t pay a lot of attention to what people think though because most people at the gym are stuck in a rut and making no progress.

    Dave,
    Have you tried to do any hand stand pushups? I tried doing them off of the bench( Like I talk about in the post) on Monday at the end of my shoulder work, (Bonus Phase of Visual Impact) and almost face planted myself in to the floor! I think I may need to put on a football helmet whenever I train from now on!

    Alykhan,
    Yeah body weight tri-exts are brutal after a few reps. They are a great way to finish off your triceps. I have been doing these for a few years and always go back to them with what ever work out that I am doing.

    -Kelly

  8. on from JBest Bodyweight Exercises on said:

    I love bodyweight training and always recommend it. If someone has not done any exercise for a long time it can be hard to get them into the habit of exercising on a regular basis. By teaching them a few bodyweight workouts you teach them that they can exercise anywhere, any time. Gyms are not required, vacation is no excuse for not exercising. Especially good for moms who cannot get out of the house much. What most people fail to grasp first of all is that bodyweight training is hard. Pull ups and dips require a lot of strength and energy, which is why they are so good for building muscle and shedding fat.
    Jon@ Best Bodyweight Exercises´s last [type] ..Full Body Weight Training Workout Split Over 3 Sessions

  9. Jon,
    This is true. I have met many people that train at home and have no desire to go to a gym. They train hard and get excellent results regardless of whether they use weights or not. Personally, I like the gym atmosphere and enjoy going. This is why I incorporate weights as well as body weight exercises together. It doesn’t have to be either or in order to get in shape. If you look at some of the latest exercise crazes like P90X and others, they do a lot of body weight stuff and make great progress.

    -Kelly

  10. Tray Raymond on said:

    Hey all, wow Kelly, great website man. Very informative and your really onto some cutting edge ways to address both a proper food intake system with what has been proven to be the latest way to time effectively get that damn work out done.
    Great stuff here.
    GET ER DONE!

  11. Tray,
    Thanks for stopping by, my friend! Yeah, I am all about getting in to the gym, getting it done, and getting out. I have so much going on these days and could use more time to get other stuff done, rather than wasting time in the gym.
    -Kelly

  12. Srdjan P - Bloom to Fit on said:

    I love bodyweight workouts as well. But I like to throw in some bodyweight leg exercises as well – prisoner squats and lunges, one-legged squats, and a lot of box jumps. They help you effectively build strength in your lower body.
    Srdjan P – Bloom to Fit´s last [type] ..Benefits of Skipping Rope

  13. ave from DWorkout Warehouse on said:

    There are so many things you can do to take your basic push ups and sit ups to the next level. Those 90 degree pushups look insane. But I’m setting it as a goal to work towards.

  14. insanity workout on said:

    It is necessary to be physically active as it reduces the chances of getting health problems. People who are associated with regular activities are usually away from physical illnesses such as cancers, heart diseases, and diabetes and are less likely to die earlier.

  15. Insanity Work Out on said:

    90% of your efforts will be based upon your diet. In order to show off the abs, you must get rid of the layer of fat that is covering them up. It is that simple. Many people will train their abs and do all kinds of cardio and they still forget that nutrition plays such a massive role in getting rid of belly fat. You must know how many calories a day you need to eat and what to eat in order to get your nutrition on track and working for you. Going to the gym more often, doing more cardio and more hanging crunches will do you no good if you fail 90% of the test.

  16. Insanity workout results on said:

    While we are in the area of Body Weight Training: Make Your Gym Workouts More Productive, Your abdominal muscle is like the rest of the muscles in your body. They require training if you want them to be larger and stronger. A common misconception is that you must train your abs several times a week. This will only lead to overtraining. Your abs are a muscle. Train it like everything else. No need to focus and go overboard. Two to three times a week of focused ab work or core strength is generally the rule for 6 pack abs.

  17. Prem Raj on said:

    Sir,
    I feel i am under weight (Height 5.8, Weight 55, age 30), so I want to increase the body weight and some shapes of the body. So what kinds of practical or physical exercise can i do ? Please tell me.
    Thanks

  18. @Prem Raj

    First off, what are your goals? Do you want to gain muscle, lose fat, both? Once I have an idea of what you want to accomplish, I can better understand how to help you. Let me know.
    -Kelly

  19. p90x reviews on said:

    Whenever you are physically fit, active and wholesome, you develop self-confidence and sense enthusiasm in your life. It is possible to even develop far better abilities for coping with psychological illnesses which include tension, anxiousness, and depression.

  20. bally gyms on said:

    This article is very informative. I am a huge believer of muscle confusion and mixing weight training in the gym with body weight training is a PERFECT way to achieve this. Muscle confusion is the way that individuals prevent from a plateau when working out, which is the worst word for any person working out looking to , gain or lose, weight. The workouts that you have outlined are very good, as well as useful for those who prefer the at home method of working out. Handstand pushups, inverted rows, pull ups and dips are my favorite body weight workouts, and they will work your entire upper body consistently in a manner that is not easily done with weights. Great post, keep up the good work!

  21. teve from SHome Gym Equipment Reviews on said:

    Great info. I’ll try out these exercises and see how it goes. It looks like they’ll be some learning curve.

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