Using your own body

There are many different types of resistance training out there. There are also many different forms of resistance to train with. This could be dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, resistance machines, bands, chains or any other heavy thing you wish to pick up. One of my favourite forms of resistance that you can train with is your own bodyweight. It is fully portable (obviously), doesn’t cost anything, can be altered to change levels of resistance, and is surprisingly difficult to train with.


When people think of bodyweight training, their immediate reaction is just to think of press ups, chins, dips and sit ups. That is usually why bodyweight training gets a bad reputation as being limited in what you can achieve. However this is not the case at all. There are a massive range of exercises that can be done with just your bodyweight and some things to support your bodyweight on. As long as you have a high bar (or anything flat and relatively high up like a tree branch) and something you can lean on then you can perform most exercises with reasonable levels of difficulty.


You also don’t have to just stick to usual styles of repetitions either. You can do plyometric training with your bodyweight. You can also do static holds, maximal lifts, high rep training or even negative rep training. For example on squats with bodyweight you could perform them plyometrically, with normal repetition style, or alternatively you could do one legged negative piston squats.


The issue of not being able to build substantial muscle by using bodyweight training is also not true. Many people believe that BW training is only useful for muscular endurance as the weight you train with just isn’t heavy enough to build size and strength. I urge you to try a planche or front lever and tell me that that doesn’t require your maximum exertion. I can guarantee you that it does and 99% of you wont be able to do it anyway. If you are still not convinced that bodyweight training doesn’t build muscle then look at gymnasts or calisthenics trainers. They are extremely muscular and pound for pound incredibly strong.


(insert youtube links to calisthenics and gymnastics)


so can you train your full body using nothing but bodyweight training? I personally think you can do so sufficiently. The only thing that is difficult to do is isolate the muscle as many of the movements are multi-joint movements. However this does not mean that the muscle is not getting sufficiently worked. Here is an example of a good push, pull, legs routine you could do with just bodyweight:


day 1 – push


press ups

clap press ups

press ups with feet on an incline

triangle press ups

handstand presses


static hold dips


day 2 – pull + abs


wide grip chins

explosive chins

underhand chins

hyper extensions

inverted row underhand inverted row



hanging leg raises

dragon flags



day 3 – legs


bodyweight squats

piston squats

explosive lunges off bench

box jumps

one legged calf raise

one legged calf jumps


There are far more exercises you could do than these and this is a very basic routine but just demonstrates that you can use bodyweight to put together a full routine that would be very difficult. In order to increase resistance all you have to do is change the load distance from the pivot. For example on hanging leg raises it is easier if your legs are bent and knees tucked in than if you extend your legs to straight. You can make these variations on different exercises to make them more difficult and progressive.


So I recommend trying some bodyweight training. If you don’t want to do a full BW routine then try including them into your weights routine and integrate the 2 styles to reap the rewards.



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