Pull-up or shut up.

Pull-up or shut up.

Bodyweight training has become increasingly popular nowadays and with good reason. While weight/resistance training is fantastic, there’s a certain bodily strength and development that you can only get from bodyweight or calisthenics training.

Take a look at gymnasts, some of the strongest athletes the world has to offer, and virtually all that strength has in some way been developed through bodyweight training. (Of course in its very advanced stages).

Don’t get me wrong. I love weight training as much as any one else, but recently I’ve been incorporating more bodyweight exercises into my training and I love the freedom and feeling.

In fact, before I actually got into weight training I used to do numerous bodyweight/free hand exercises. Pretty much the first six months of training that’s all I did. It was a precursor to the iron that was to follow.

If you actually break it down, bodyweight is a form of weight training. The ‘weight’ part of the word is the giveaway.

As of recently I’ve added various forms of pushups, pull-ups/chins and dips, both weighted and regular to my routine. Not forgetting pistol squats, L-sits, inverted rows and handstand pushups etc.

I’m slowly working up to higher progressions and it’s a real pain. (Figuratively and literally speaking).

Truth is, bodyweight training requires, more focus, intensity, discipline and patience than pumping iron. (Yep, you read that correctly).  You see it isn’t easy trying to progress to a higher, more advanced variation of an exercise. It’s easier to do with weights than with your own body.

Want to get progress on a bench press, just add on another plate each side and get to it. (Not to downplay how hard you still have to train). With bodyweight it’s not that simple.

To get to the next progression, you’ve got to physically train your body to prepare it for the next level. It takes time. In many cases you have to practice the move over and over to finally be able to do it. It requires a lot of patience, something many people just don’t have.

If you can endure it though, it’s worth it. You’ll develop body strength, coordination and balance that you won’t otherwise get from lifting. Not to mention you’ll get some attention. (Always a nice side benefit).To top it of it’s also a great way to give your joints a break from heavy lifting.

Now, you’ll find certain individuals that think you can’t build muscle with bodyweight training. To all those people, I say, think again!!!

Of course doing endless basic pushups, pull-ups and dips will only get you so far, so they are partly correct. Sticking to the same basic bodyweight exercises constantly will eventually lead to result stagnation. That’s where advanced bodyweight training and progressions come into play.

Instead of doing a regular pushup, move your hands further away from your body and see how damn hard the exercise gets. If you find regular pull-ups a breeze, slap some weight plates around your waist, do some plyometric variations or work your way to a perfect form muscle up.

With bodyweight training you’ve got to continue to push the boundaries. Never get stuck in a rut. You have to get a little creative.

Just as there are those who knock bodyweight training, there are those who exclusively train with their bodyweight and knock all forms of extra resistance. (Weight training/bodybuilding etc).

Human beings are quite funny that way. They seem to feel that they have to choose one form of training over another. If you can get benefits from both and have access to both, why not do both? (Injuries/time commitment issues aside).

Ultimately it all comes down to preferences and personal choice. But never knock something till you’ve tried it.

Here’s a quick circuit I like to do from time to time.

Chest/Triceps/abs (perform 2-3 circuits)

10 regular pushups/ 10 sec V sit

10 wide pushups/10 sec V sit

10 diamond pushups/ 10 sec V sit

(Perform each round of the circuit in nonstop fashion. Rest about 60-90secs after each round).

Hannibal. The man is a master of bodyweight. A one of a kind type of guy.


Image credit: Marines 

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