Body weight training

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Matt Z
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Post by Matt Z » Mon Jul 09, 2007 1:32 pm

Actually, it's signifigantly easier to do a pushup at 200 lbs bodyweight than it is to do a 200 lb bench press, since with pushups you keep your toes on the floor and only lift maybe 2/3 bodyweight. Likewise, it's much harder to bench press a pair of 100 lb dumbbells than it is to press a 200 lb barbell.


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Post by Ironman » Mon Jul 09, 2007 2:00 pm

actually I said 180 degrees for just that reason. So it is more like a handstand pushup and an overhead press. I also specified the weight just being from 1 object. Because as you point out if any of those variables are changed it is very different.

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Bodyweight revisited

Post by Onlyethic » Wed Jul 11, 2007 4:45 pm

I've been rethinking bodyweight the past few days. I injured my knees so I haven't been running (would otherwise be 4 days/wk running) and have concentrated on bodyweight exercise.

Ironman, who is one of the more outspoken on the subject, has a real point. It is not the path to getting big. But there is an element of strength-building which I did not get in the gym. The reason is fairly simple, and it is the same reason that you don't get huge muscle gains: it's difficult to isolate muscle.

Liederman makes this point fairly well (better than I could make it) in his chapter on symmetry in Secrets of Strength. Body weight exercise usually involves a number of muscles and gets those muscles working in synch with one another. The result is strength and physical ability.

Definitely, you won't be doing 200 rep bench sets, as Ironman points out. But do you really want or need to do 200 rep bench sets. You will be able to fling yourself over a wall, pull yourself up a rope, or lower yourself down a sheer rock (hopefully).

That is to say, I'm finding it's a matter of goals. I would like to look a bit better (could clean up the eating) but I definitely have no interest in being a pair of walking biceps that can barely raise the blinds for lack of flexibility.

The other plus to bodyweight workouts: diversity. It's really, really easy to plateau when you don't have increasing weights to choose from. So you innovate. You get smaller muscles. You go for endurance one session and then intensity the next. I'm doing bizarre things on the beach nowadays that I never dreamed of doing or being able to do.

That said, I do beef up naturally and quickly. But then again, when I'm all proud that I just threw down a set of one-handed pushups, I watch some maniac doing a set of 20 planche pushups and it's back to the bodyweight.

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Post by Matt Z » Thu Jul 12, 2007 10:00 am

There is another problem with bodyweight only programs that no one has mensioned ... While bodyweight exercises are a good measure of relative strength, they aren't a very good for gauging absolute strength.

For example, lets say John weights 200 lbs and can do 10 good chin-ups. Meanwhile, his friend Mike weighs only 100 lbs and can also do 10 good chin-ups. Pound-for-pound the two men are equal, but in absolute terms John is twice as strong.

Now lets say, John decides to go on a crash diet. In 3 months he loses 50 lbs, of which about half is bodyfat and half is muscle. This will certainly have a negative effect on how much John can lift (absolute strength). However, if John only does bodyweight exercises, this may not be immediately apparent. In fact, John may even see a slight increase in relative strength durring this time.

Of course, this isn't so bad if John is only concerned with relative strength. However, if he's looking to maintain absolute strength and/or muscle mass while shedding bodyfat, it's a big problem.

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Post by Matt Z » Thu Jul 12, 2007 10:15 am

PS.) You shouldn't assume that atheletes with big muscles are "muscle bound." Many are both fast and flexible, as well as strong. In fact, even bodybuilders, who train more for aesthetics than performance, are sometimes surprisingly athletic and "functional."


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Post by Ironman » Thu Jul 12, 2007 3:54 pm

Ironman, who is one of the more outspoken on the subject
lol that's one way of putting it! :)


It doesn't build strength so much as endurance because the resistance does not change, you just do more. What does isolating muscles have to do with it? I use the weighted version of these exercises.

If you want to build endurance and have strength relative to weight, it works fine for that.

Bodyweight does get a lot of muscles as most of them are good compound moves, but you are only going to get strength if they provide the right amount of resistance. That's why we have devices to strap weights on. Dips, really sucked for me, too easy. Then just like magic I strap a heavy piece of iron to my body and it instantly becomes a great exercise.

Ok so we agree 200 rep bench is useless. How about 200 pushups? Not only is it useless, it is a recipe for an overuse injury in the shoulders.

There is no such ting as muscle bound, it is a myth. Also you can't have arms like you are talking about without excellent genetics and years of heavy drug use. So I don't think you would have to worry about it no matter how you train.

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Post by TeeBee » Fri Jul 13, 2007 1:47 pm

I just started adding some body-weight exercises (dips, push-ups [remember them?]) into my work-outs.

But I have weight-lifting in my blood--since I was 8!--and I will never give it up.

So there's got to be a happy medium somewhere. I also just ordered a kettlebell plus the DVD, so let's see how that goes.

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Post by Ironman » Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:03 pm

There is a happy medium. A weight belt. I just use a regular leather belt myself, it works great.

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Body weight pushups, pullups, squat.

Post by derekcurtice » Thu Aug 23, 2007 2:33 pm

I've been training for several years...personally, I've had great workouts using my bodyweight only. Of course skill level, motivation, and previous injury should be considered. I use a lot of information from the http://simplefit.net website. Answers never come in only one form...keep looking...modify your workouts to fit your lifestyle, budget, health and fitness experience, level, and limitation...you will do well.

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Post by tyler » Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:43 pm

Hmm...why can't we just take the best of all three worlds (barbell, dumbell, and bodyweight (adding weight with a belt or backpack when necessary) ) and design a great plan incorporating all three of them? There is no question that barbell exercises are best for lower body...it gives a chance for your legs to do what they were meant too do. But with upper body...I think a combo of all three is the best!

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Post by pdellorto » Thu Aug 23, 2007 5:46 pm

Tyler, that sounds like crossfit. Bodyweight, barbell, dumbbell work - plus kettlebells, rowing, running, gymnastics, etc.

FWIW, they aren't the only ones to mix bodyweight and weighted exercises. I've done that often, and martial artists generally use both together - either in different workouts or all together.

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Post by Ironman » Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:30 am

That's what I do. I do dumbbell, barbell, and bodyweight with weight added. I even use a machine to train calves. I'm getting ready to drop cable pulldown though. I am getting to where I can almost get high enough to do pullups. I can get 3, maybe 4 if I try, but I seem to be an inch or 2 shy of the full range of motion. I do underhand chins bodyweight. Palm facing chins I'm adding 5 pounds to. I add 25 lbs to dips. I weigh 201 by the way. Probably more like 205 by the time I go to the gym.

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Post by tyler » Sat Aug 25, 2007 2:06 pm

Ironman wrote:That's what I do. I do dumbbell, barbell, and bodyweight with weight added. I even use a machine to train calves. I'm getting ready to drop cable pulldown though. I am getting to where I can almost get high enough to do pullups. I can get 3, maybe 4 if I try, but I seem to be an inch or 2 shy of the full range of motion. I do underhand chins bodyweight. Palm facing chins I'm adding 5 pounds to. I add 25 lbs to dips. I weigh 201 by the way. Probably more like 205 by the time I go to the gym.
Would u say lower body is almost strictly barbell?

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Post by Ironman » Sat Aug 25, 2007 4:00 pm

Yea, with the exception of gastrocs. I have done some dumbbell exercises and leg press every now and then. Not very often though. Gastrocs are the one and only thing I train with a machine. Usually lever, but sometimes pulley.
Right now over the course of a week, all 3 days combined I do the following for lower body.
squats 6 sets
Romanian deadlift 6 sets
barbell hack squats 2 sets
standard deadlift 2 sets
sumo deadlift with all 25 lbs plates 2 sets
calf press and some standing calf raise. total of 18 sets all together. I could probably cut it back a little but I superset them with the other lifts.

So as you see pretty much all barbell.

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Post by stuward » Sat Aug 25, 2007 4:03 pm

There are are a lot of good lowerbody exercses that use dumbbells. Don't forget about asymetrical lifts. Lunges, split squats, step ups, etc. These are very important and they're often done with dumbbells. There are also several good bodyweight exercises for the lowerbody. I know pdellorto has spoken of some and Crossfit certainly gets a lot of mileage out of the bodyweight squat.


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