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.
[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.