The reason why body weight exercises don’t make you bigger

04:02 Eugene Madondo 0 Comments

I am a fan of body weight exercises; I have been a fan since I was a little kid. I was just like any kid, if I saw a guy beating bad guys up on TV I couldn't wait till the next day so I could try those moves out myself. These movies usually used to start off with a guy getting his ass whooped by some bullies or bad  guys, then they would train  hard or find a master to mentor them,  a little time would pass by and these guys would be ripped and masters of martial arts using only their body weight to look that good.

Now you are probably wondering why I’m going on and on about typical olden day action movie, I will tell you how watching these movies led  to giving me a wrong impression of how to go about doing body weight exercises and how you can use body weight training effectively to gain as much muscles as you can.

The reason for you not being able to lift actual weights may be that you are only looking to be fit and strong while still looking decent without having to pay for a gym membership or buying your own weights , you live far from a gym or you work/travel and don’t find time for going to a gym.

will smith I am legend pull-up
Body-weight training Will Smith Pull Ups I am Legend.

Why action movies give wrong impression on getting in great shape


You see when you watch an action movie or those Bruce Lee, Rocky, Jean Claude type movies, you will often see guy go from average to amazing shape but you hardly see them doing any actual weight lifting, they do martial arts, boxing type training and you see them doing mostly stuff you think you can do at home to look like them, only to find out that you do not get the same results as them. Some of the stuff they do there in those movies to improve their toughness is stuff we won’t be able to do because most people just cannot take the pain, or dedicate each and every day to only improving their conditioning. We only see them doing bodyweight exercises and a lot of cardio, and mind and body (concentration) type training, so their bodies are in tune with their minds, that works but what we don’t see is the that those guys also did weighted workouts (specifically Van Damme and Stallone), Just doing bodyweight training would never have given them their size and even if they did mostly bodyweight  training the characters that is, they would need to be difficult targeted workouts which I will talk about next.

Why doing the same old body weight exercises for high reps just won’t cut it


Doing push-ups will only get you so far, the truth is you get used to them and it becomes a matter of doing more and more and more... just to get the same results you got at the beginning with lower reps. It is the same for dips, squats, lunges, crunches, pull-ups/chin-ups, you get used to all of those exercises and it becomes more about endurance than actual muscle building, its like a bodyweight exercise marathon, now tell me the last time you saw a buff champion marathon runner?   Now if you go with this strategy of increasing your reps, and you like it that is fine maybe you are aiming for the world record, but for people with no time who want results the time it takes to complete a workout is an important factor but the effectiveness of the workout is also an important factor.

How to maximise the effectiveness of bodyweight training to get bigger


To increase effectiveness, and get the same or better results in less time, and ultimately gain more muscle we need to split the reps up first to begin with, we need to do them at a high intensity to get the most burn, or alternate between high intensity and normal pace when doing these workouts. I mean going hard and fast for your first set of 20 push-ups or whichever body weight exercise then in the next set going slower at a steady controlled pace as you now feel the burn that your previous set did not allow your body to register. Let’s say about 4 sets each exercise( this is just an example of how you can increase the effectiveness). Please note that we are still doing these exercises with our bodyweight only, so that we get used to controlling our body as we do these exercises, we learn to do these exercises properly and we improve basic fitness and gain some strength in the process.

After gaining all the benefits of simply doing bodyweight exercises and we have become accustomed to lifting our own bodyweight, the exercises simply become inefficient in  further improvement except for maintenance purposes. So what do we do? Do we stop doing body weight exercises or continue doing them to maintain the body and strength we have built up till that point? The answer is no we continue to find something to challenge our body; we have now acquired the necessary skill set and strength to move on to the next level of difficulty. What is this next level of difficulty you ask? Hehe, do not worry I will tell you...

The next level of difficulty for effective body weight training


At this point everything you have been doing has been preparing you for this level. In this level of bodyweight training, you will now add weights on your back or hold them between your legs depending on the exercise for example if you are doing squats(weights on your back), pull-ups/chin-ups(weight between legs/weight on back), push-ups(weight on back), and you will hold a weight at the back of your head or on your chest if you are doing crunches. The weight can be a back pack filled with heavy thick objects or anything you can find to create a weighted effect so that it becomes more difficult for you to do the bodyweight exercises.

The heavier the weight you carry the greater the amount of difficulty, but also the more strength and muscle that you will gain. When it comes to abs you will be able to now do the hanging legs raises with your legs lifting to the bar from which you hang, instead of stopping at just above a 90degree angle to the body (legs/knees parallel to floor). There are various other more difficult abs workouts, if you are a freak and want test your core strength like the human flag which requires strong lats and core but I’m not an extremist and I will not even think of trying such things. For legs you can even try one legged squats and for people who like difficulty as you gain strength you could try one arm pull-ups/chin-ups and one-arm push-ups to challenge you, that's what I call extreme strength and fitness, more impressive than any lift.

That would the end of today’s post I hope I have given you some ideas of how to get the most out of your bodyweight training, to maximise your strength and weight gains. Final note, these exercises will also help you if you eventually find time or move elsewhere close to a gym or find a way to pay for a gym membership, they will help you lift heavier (increased strength and grip strength) and become bigger.

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