Is Bodyweight Exercise Enough?

Posted By Georgette Pann
Categoirzed Under: Bootcamp Exercises
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Is Bodyweight Exercise Enough?  

by Dr. Kareem F. Samhouri, CSCS, HFS
Neuro Metabolic Fat Loss & Fitness Expert 

I teach my clients 3 main rules about how to progress from bodyweight exercises to exercises that get a greater effect.  Here they are:
 

  • Rule #1:  Always master an exercise with just your bodyweight first.
  • Rule #2:  Work on many variations of an exercise before progressing to dumbbells, barbells, or other weights.
  • Rule #3:  Progress speed of movement before progressing weight with an exercise.

Rule #1:  Always Master An Exercise With Just Your Bodyweight First 

Form first, period. 

Without form, not only will you be at a significantly greater risk of injury with exercise, but you’ll also most likely miss the entire point of doing it.  It’s a good bet that you’re actually training the wrong muscles when exercising. 

For example, in a bodyweight squat, where do you feel it?  Quads, glutes, low back, all of the above? 

The right answer is quads and glutes, but primarily glutes.  When performing a squat, you should actually overemphasize your glutes by placing more weight into your heels and squeezing your cheeks together as hard as you can as you stand up.  Your quads will naturally be at work, and your low back will be protected by your glutes.  This is how you build a strong foundation for other movements. 


Rule #2:  Work On Many Variations Of An Exercise Before Progressing To Dumbbells, Barbells, Or Other Weights
 

There’s really no point in progressing to a barbell squat or front dumbbell squat until you can easily perform the following three variations of the squat: 

Variation #1:  Side Step Squat 

  1. Stand feet together, knees together, tall posture, with shoulder blades squeezed lightly back and down.
  2. Take a step to your right, keeping your heels parallel, as you sit into a squat and contract your abs.
  3. From the bottom position, lift your weight off of your left leg and stand into your right leg, while squeezing both of your glutes together as you stand.
  4. Touch heels together and then repeat the same sequence to your left, standing through your left leg this time.

Variation #2:  Pivot Squat
 

  1. Stand feet together, knees together, tall posture, with shoulder blades squeezed lightly back and down.
  2. Take a step to your right and you turn and rotate your entire body, keeping your left knee facing straight in front; sit into a squat and contract your abs.
  3. From the bottom position, lift your weight off of your right leg and stand into your left leg, while recruiting your left glutes and hip rotators as you stand.
  4. Touch heels together and then repeat the same sequence to your left, standing through your right leg this time.

 

Variation #3:  Jump Squat 

  1. Stand feet hip width apart or slightly wider, knees facing forward, tall posture, with shoulder blades squeezed lightly back and down.
  2. Squat down into a full squat position, with your weight mostly in your heels.
  3. Leap into the air, keeping your heels parallel, as you cushion your landing by sitting into a squat and contracting your abs.
  4. From the bottom position, squeeze your glutes and leap into the air again, always focusing on a graceful landing with each repetition.

Rule #3:  Progress Speed Of Movement Before Progressing Weight With An Exercise. 

Every exercise you do should be able to be performed at three speeds before you progress it to heavier resistance.  These three speeds are:
 

  • Super-slow: 10 seconds concentric, 10 seconds eccentric (no isometric)
  • Normal: 2 seconds concentric, 1 second isometric, 4 seconds eccentric
  • Sprint: as fast as you can possibly go without dropping the weights or putting yourself at risk.

Super-slow sets are great for enhancing motor unit recruitment, or the number of muscle fibers that get recruited with any given exercise.  Because of the slow and deliberate movement, you can really see where your form is going wrong, you can see at which point in a movement you’re deviating, and you can feel whether or not you’re targeting the right muscles. 

Normal speed is actually much slower than most people work out.  This is considered the ‘optimal’ repetition speed for a movement, as your body actually will gain strength twice as fast with an eccentric movement as it will a concentric, but it’s just not a functional strength gain.  Therefore, we want to stimulate increased muscle growth, but we always want to bias this towards ‘functional’ muscle growth, instead of just ‘muscle for show.’ 

Sprint sets are directed to stimulate your Type IIb muscle fiber types, or your purely glycolytic muscle fibers.  By working multiple speeds of movement, you are better able work all three of your energy systems, target more of your muscle fibers, and increase the metabolic effect from exercise. 

What is your #1 question or comment about bodyweight exercise? 

Make sure to leave your comments or questions below.  With at least 50 comments, I’ll be back tomorrow with another great article for you. 

have a great day,

 Kareem

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One Response to “Is Bodyweight Exercise Enough?”

  1. Darvis Simms Says:

    Great advice on how to progress beyond body weight in your exercise program.

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