3 Rules for Building Strength Without Weights

Just got back from an AMAZING weekend in the San Diego area at the Progressive Calisthenics Certification.

We learned and trained body weight exercise for three full days – including:

– push ups
– pull ups
– human flags
– muscle ups
– squats
– back bridges
– ab work – everything from L sits to dragon flags to hanging leg raises
– front and back levers
– floor levers
– handstands

And MUCH more.

Not only was the instruction top notch – I now have literally YEARS of progressions to work towards – it was an awesome, positive, encouraging environment. LOVE the
direction that Dragon Door is going with this.

I went in not knowing what to expect honestly … my build (6’5″ / 245 pounds) is pretty much the most unfavorable you can get for this type of training ;) … but I
felt like I fit in right from the beginning, and I was at least able to try the *basic* versions of all the harder moves, which was REALLY cool.

If you have ever considered attending this event, I highly recommend it.

Now one of the things about body weight training is how versatile it is. You can use just your own body weight as resistance to accomplish a WIDE variety of fitness goals – strength, muscle gain, fat loss, conditioning, and much more.

HOWEVER … the way you PROGRAM your training makes all the difference when it comes to reaching your goals.

As you may or may not know, my “thing” is training for muscle and strength with body weight – and so I wanted to give you three “rules” to help you accomplish this goal.

Follow these rules, and you’ll be on your way to getting big and strong with body weight exercise … neglect them, and you’ll likely have a hard time reaching your
goals.

3 Rules for Building Strength Without Weights

1 – Stick to the basics

Cool calisthenics moves and tricks are AWESOME – my personal goal list for the year includes these exercises:

– solid clutch flag on both sides
– elbow lever
– free handstand

And a few more.

HOWEVER … when it comes to actually gaining STRENGTH and MUSCLE, these moves are not going to help a ton. They are more “skill” oriented if you will … and are GREAT exercises … but not perfect for getting big and strong.

You need to be focusing on things like:

– push ups and advanced variations
– pull ups and advanced variations
– squats and advanced variations
– jumping
– sprinting

To gain muscle and get strong with your own body weight.

2 – Do the “right” amount of volume

If you are training for skill – practicing handstands is a great example – you want to go LOW reps, and do a lot of them, frequently, and NOT to failure. It’s like PRACTICE more than anything.

But let’s say you’re going for hypertrophy, like we do in phase one of Body Weight Strong … you want to pound those muscles with some volume.

Now you don’t have to go old-school, “golden age” bodybuilder-style and do thirty sets for each body part … but here is an example of what a workout might look like:

(NOTE: workout does not include warm up, skill work, metabolic “finisher” at the end, etc)

push up progression – 30-45 seconds, as many reps as possible
+
vertical jump progression – 30-45 seconds, as many reps as possible

four sets total of each move

THEN

pull up progression progression – 30-45 seconds, as many reps as possible
+
one leg squat progression – 30-45 seconds, as many reps as possible

four sets total of each move

3 – Higher reps for size, “medium” reps for strength

A lot of folks thing these two things are one in the same … and while there is without a doubt a relationship between the two, training to get big is actually
different than training to get strong.

As you can see in the workout above, you end up getting around 8-12 reps of each exercise … this is generally best for that muscle size goal.

If you’re going for STRENGTH … like we do in phase TWO of Body Weight Strong … you want to move towards a little lower in the rep range, like 3-5 ish … this is best for raw strength.

So there you have three “rules” of body weight strength. Follow these rules, and you’ll be well on your way to getting big and strong with body weight exercise … neglect them, and you’ll likely have a hard time reaching your goals.

Train hard, and until next time –

– Forest Vance
Certified Progressive Calisthenics Instructor

PS – Got Body Weight Strong 3.0 – the NEW version of this best-selling program, now with follow – along AND full coaching videos – on sale for you this week! Click HERE for more info and to save over 50% on the program for the next few days.

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