If you are looking for some creative new body weight exercises – to add some variety to your current routine, kick – start your progress, etc – you’re going to LOVE today’s FVT Expert Interview.
Today, we’ve got with us the one and only “Mad Scientist” of muscle, strength and fat loss, Nick Nilsson. When it comes to training, Nick is, according to his website, “slightly insane”, creative, and always thinking of news ways to to do things.
It this interview, Nick talks about his drive to experiment and push boundaries with his training, what exercise methods he’s studied and how they have influenced his work, how he personally went from zero to fourty consecutive handstand push ups in a three month period, and even shows us how to do a cool and unique body weight exercise called the “one arm bench outrigger push up”.
Let’s get right into it!
“Mad Scientist” Body Weight Exercises
Interview with Nick Nilsson, author, “The Best Bodyweight Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of”
1 – Nick – your body weight training methods are very unique. I can honestly say that many of the exercise you use, I have never heard of or seen before. What drove you to create and perfect your training system?
I’ve never been satisfied with the status quo. I’ve always been personally driven to create, experiment and push boundaries with training. I don’t accept that you have to follow any absolute “rules” when it comes to exercise and that shows in how I train.
Many people simply don’t understand why I do what I do…after all, there are a LOT of great bodyweight exercises already out there.
My goal, however, has always been to find ones that are BETTER, not just different.
Because here’s thing…”normal” training doesn’t always work for everybody. It didn’t always work for me, so I found better ways.
And when I get feedback from people telling me how an exercise I created or a program I put together worked for them when NOTHING else did, THAT is what drives me to keep going.
It’s really one of the key reasons I put together my bodyweight exercise book (The Best Bodyweight Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of). I kept getting feedback from people that the normal exercises they were using either weren’t working as well as they should or that they were getting too easy and they needed more variety in their training.
And honestly, with bodyweight training, it can be very easy to fall in to a rut and keep working with the same exercises for long periods of time. New exercises and movement patterns can really challenge and motivate you to push harder in your training.
2 – What exactly are your training methods all about? How would your training concepts work and/or fit into an individual’s overall routine?
My training is all about results without regard for rules. It’s very much along the lines of Bruce Lee’s philosophy of learning what works, discarding what doesn’t, then making it your own.
My programs and exercises are put together for the sole purpose of achieving a particular goal. I don’t use things just because that’s what everybody else does or because it’s the “right” way to do things. In fact, I’ve often found that doing things completely “wrong” actually works much better!
My training concepts can very easily be incorporated into any routine. It can be as simple as substituting one or two exercises directly in place of other similar movements (a la carte!), all the way to a complete program overhaul based on all my methods.
3 – What exercise methods have you studied, and how to they influence your work?
I’m basically a student of movement…I like to study ALL forms of exercise and training, ranging from simple bodyweight exercises to Olympic lifting, to Strongman training to gymnastics and other athletic movements. They all have value and there is actually a LOT of commonality between how they function.
Similar to an engineer taking apart a watch to see how it works, I’ll sometimes dismantle a movement or exercise in my mind and pull out the components that I think are most valuable to the movement…then I’ll put it back together with particular tweaks or changes made to enhance the movement.
And sometimes I’ll have an idea in my mind about a particular muscle or movement pattern I want to work…then I’ll create an exercise or resistance pattern based on that goal.
I may even just limit myself in a workout to a particular piece of equipment or apparatus and challenge myself to work a particular muscle group or movement pattern using it…especially if it’s not intended for that purpose!
In fact, I HIGHLY recommend you do that regularly in your own training, whenever you find yourself getting into a rut…just force yourself to get creative, limiting yourself to one piece of equipment to do an entire workout with…even something as simple as a backpack full of rocks.
In terms of training programs, I combine my scientific background with my gym experience to put together programs that are essentially like “sledgehammers” towards a specific goal. I don’t leave it to chance or deal with nuance. I design my programs to ATTACK whatever goal I set for them so that I’m absolutely sure they’ll work.
4 – What kind of results have folks experienced with your methods? Can you provide a few examples?
I’ve had some pretty stunning success stories…using one of fat loss programs, I had a friend of mine lose 50 lbs of fat (ALL fat) over 5 months while building muscle and basically change his entire life.
Using one my muscle-building programs, I had one person gain 120 lbs on their max deadlift, in TWO weeks. (It sounds insane but the program IS insane…and it works).
I also used one of my specialization programs for handstand push-ups and took myself from 0 reps (controlled negative) to being able to do a set of 40 reps within 3 months.
5 – Would you be kind enough to provide a sample exercise / workout for my readers to try at home?
You bet. This one is a push-up variation that solves one of the BIGGEST problems people have with the push-up…it gets to be too easy and doesn’t build much more muscle or strength.
The push-up is a great exercise, but you’re obviously limited in the amount of resistance you have available to you, i.e. your bodyweight.
When you get to the point where you can easily do 20 to 30 reps of the push-up, you can move on to one-arm push-ups…however, the problem then becomes the hand and body position necessarily focus on the tricep of the working arm. This leaves your pecs lagging.
That’s where the One-Arm Outrigger Bench Push-Up comes in…and all you need to do it is a chair or bench.
Get into your normal push-up position with the chair just about a foot or so beside you to your left. Now set your left hand on the seat of the chair, like an outrigger on a canoe.
NOW do a push-up from there. Your left arm keeps your balance so that you can work the PEC on your right side while forcing a LOT more resistance onto it. You’ll get a good stretch on the left pec as well, but the idea is basically to just have it there to keep balance while you work the other side.
Even if you’re strong with push-ups, this will challenge you. It’s extremely effective and very easy to setup and do.
If you’d like to see pics and video of this exercise in action, I’ve got those posted here (exercise #2 on the site).
Awesome stuff Nick, THANK YOU so much for taking the time to do this interview for FVT readers!!
You can find an entire library of 85 unique body weight exercises that Nick has put together here:
Thanks for reading, and talk soon –
– Forest Vance, MS, RKC II