FREE Bodyweight Program
For the last year, the entire world has been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone across the world is dealing with consequences from this disease. Businesses have been shut down, people have been unable to pay bills and forced out of homes and, worst of all, many people have lost their lives and loved ones. Other consequences, of lesser importance, is that gyms may not be open where people are living, people can’t buy gym equipment, pay the gym membership or purchase gym equipment to work at home.
The coronavirus has backed us into a corner. We have had to sit here, from a creative mindset, and figure out how to improve fitness, strength and speed. We started with the idea that everyone has their body and, from that premise, asked what bodyweight movements can be done to maintain and create gainz.
We asked: Can we still get stronger with bodyweight strength work? Can we still get more explosive? Faster? Can we still have general fitness levels that can optimize athletes’ overall health? And we settled on an overwhelming, Yes!
Absolutely bodyweight training is really, really effective. Not only is it cost effective, it is very efficient as far as time is concerned. No plate loading, just manipulating bodyweight to improve strength adaptations.
That’s the key factor here! If an athlete can make an adaptation by doing something crazy enough using just their bodyweight, they are going to get stronger, more explosive and become better athletes.
With that in mind, let’s look at how to design a bodyweight program.
Explosive Movements And Body Control
When designing a bodyweight program, right off that back we want to have a dual focus on explosiveness and body control. How can we use just body weight to be as explosive as possible? How can we train body control using just body weight?
After a nice warm-up, we can start to do different jumps and bounds. We can start to do pauses in the landing, focusing on stabilizing the core and resonating that stabilization and dynamic control out to the peripheral muscles. Learning how to manipulate one’s body effectively enhances proprioception. This is all good. This is great.
What happens from this explosiveness and body control adaptations, once the gyms open back up, athletes can take this explosiveness and apply it to their standard lifts: squats, cleans and press to name a few.
Strength: Volume And The Trunk
It seems almost the antithesis to talk about strength work from a bodyweight perspective. A part of us wants to agree with that sentiment, but the logical and reasonable part of us is apt to disagree. Gymnasts are shining examples of how effective bodyweight training can be to developing strength.
However, since we are using only bodyweight training here, we believe the focus of strength needs to center around volume and trunk work. Say we decide to use frog squats, walking lunges or air squats. We can pair those movements up with movements like v-ups, leg raises or hollow-body rocks, anything that really targets the trunk while still coordinated to optimize leg or upper body strength depending on the specific training day.
The big key is to focus on the volume because not as much resistance is being used. We can get a lot more reps in a much shorter period of time. For instance, say we’re doing Perry Radar’s 5x5. That is 25 squat reps. Well with body weight, we can do 5x40. That’s 200 reps! Now pair that with a trunk movement of twenty five reps, and next thing you know, there are 125 reps just targeting the trunk taking place as well!
Using bodyweight is a prime time to focus on structural work. It is a time to beat all the weaknesses out. It is a time to do things that aren’t typically done in the gym. Especially bigger, larger athletes.
Structural work, in this context, can be categorized with unilateral movements or stretching problem areas like the hips and thoracic spine. Consider doing exercises like back hand bridges, cossack squats, curtsy lunges or anything else along the lines of what isn’t typically done.
Next thing, the athlete starts to notice greater mobility, more explosiveness, more strength endurance, and now when everything returns to normal, they’re even bigger freaks. This is an opportunity to get rid of structural problems that are present so that when on a general strength program they can become an absolute animal!
These are crazy times right now. There is nothing normal about what is transpiring in the world currently. It’s absurd, to say the least. But we are all about creating adaptations, and we adapt.
Look at this time as an opportunity. An opportunity to become more explosive, to improve strength endurance and to sure up structural integrity. Through utilizing jumps and bounds, plyometrics basically, athletes will not only improve their speed but will become more intuitive with coordination and body control. Since the intensity of loading is limited to the athlete’s body’s weight, volume is a great friend, just make sure to pair the voluminous strength movement(s) with trunk work. And finally, target improving structural integrity through unilateral work and performing movements that typically wouldn’t be completed within a program.
Do this and, when the time does come to place a barbell in the hands or on the back, feel the improvement.
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.