Bodyweight Beast

Written by Jamie Susino

0

April 8, 2022

 Bodyweight Beast

The sun is out, the air is warm, and Summer is upon us! While we always look forward to this time of year, for many it means not getting into the gym on their normal routine due to vacations and travel plans! The kids are home from school and sometimes it’s HARD to get to the gym. Though it may be a slight departure from your usual gym routine of lifting weights and using cardio equipment, taking a week or two off to enjoy some family time or relaxation doesn’t mean you have to stop moving. The good news is that mastering bodyweight movements can still reap some extreme benefits!

Be sure to also check out our Trainer Tip video for some visual assistance: CLICK HERE

Calisthenics

Calisthenics are exercises you perform using your own bodyweight. For some, this can be a challenging workout on its own. For others, it might seem easy…but there are always ways to make it more challenging. Whether you’re looking for conditioning or some strength/stability work, there’s a huge variety of exercises you can do outside of the gym to add to your general fitness!

Benefits:

  • Mobility

Performing an unloaded movement can be particularly beneficial when it comes to improving range of motion during exercise. This might mean doing some yoga to help the body move more efficiently or helping your end range at the bottom of a squat. Can’t hit full depth on a squat? Master the basics of a bodyweight squat first before you try loading up weights!

  • Neurological (mind-body) Connection

Being aware of what muscles are required to execute a specific movement can be a game changer when it comes to lifting weights. One of the best ways you can help strengthen this neurological connection is by performing the movement without weight.

Once we start adding weight, movements immediately become more challenging. This puts your form at risk and may cause you to compensate by recruiting other muscle groups, which may eventually lead to injury.

For example, if you can’t perform a perfect bodyweight lunge without a very good awareness of what muscles you’re working, that mind-body connection will only get weaker as you start to load weights.

  • Convenience 

No gym? No problem! When you’re on the go, stuck at home, traveling the world, or just too busy you can rely on calisthenics to help you keep moving! Your body is a tool and you should be using it everyday. This is a perfect way to help squash all of your excuses as to why you didn’t get in some kind of movement! Anything is better than nothing; even if you’ve gone off-program or it wasn’t what you initially had in mind for a workout.

  • Rest & Recovery

There are times where loading up a heavy barbell may not serve us well! You might be recovering from an injury, pregnant, or just simply sore and tired. An active recovery type workout using just your own body may be just the right amount of movement to help you feel better.

Modalities:

  • Yoga/Pilates: 

Yoga is one of my go-to methods for an active recovery day or for a post-workout recovery. It’s a great way to start your day, end your day, or maybe even spend a lunch break! If you don’t have a mat, use your living room rug or head outside on a nice day and spend some time in the grass. Don’t have an hour? 5-15 minutes is just fine and can help wonders for both the body and the mind.

  • Upper Body: 

    • Push Ups

      • Modify: elevate your hands on stairs or stable surfaces, use your knees, or work on “negatives”

      • Level Up: Add a deficit, slow tempo, or elevate the feet

    • Pull Ups 

      • Modify: jumping pull ups or an assistance band can help here

      • Level Up: Use a slow tempo, 1 ¼  or 1 ½  reps, and high volume

    • Bench/Chair Dips

      • Modify: Keep your feel flat for some lower body assistance

      • Level Up: Bring your legs out straight or add in a slow tempo

  • Lower Body: 

    • Squats

      • Modify: Squat to a chair, bench, or couch

      • Level Up: Stick to volume reps, slow tempos, pauses, or 1 ¼ reps

    • Step Ups/Step Downs

      • Modify: Start with a small stool or step and work your way up to something challenging

      • Level Up: Lower down slowly and don’t let your bottom leg engage

    • Lunges (Any Variation: forward, reverse, lateral/Cossack)

      • Modify: Shorten your range of motion until you can get your knee all the way to the floor with proper form

      • Level Up: Add a deficit, stepping forward or backward from a slightly elevated surface

    • Bulgarian Split Squats (Glute Dominant, rear foot elevated)

      • Modify: Shorten the range of motion until you can get your knee all the way to the floor with proper form

      • Level Up: Add in a quarter rep at the bottom range or slow descents

    • Split Squats (Quad Dominant, knee forward)

      • Modify: Shorten the range of motion until you can get your knee all the way to the floor with proper form

      • Level Up: Add in a quarter rep at the bottom range or slow descents

Cardio/Conditioning: 

  • Walk

Never underestimate the power of a good walk, whether you’re strolling leisurely or keeping a great pace. This is excellent for heart health and a great way to see the sights while you’re traveling.

  • Run

As the weather gets warmer and sunnier, building up your tolerance for longer and longer runs can be therapeutic, a great way to soak up some vitamin D, and excellent for overall conditioning.

  • Swim

Poolside on vacation? Maybe staying at a lake or on the beach? No problem here. Start your morning with a few laps before the crowds come and feel good all day!

  • Hike

Hit some elevation and take in some scenery. One of my favorite ways to vacation is to travel to National Parks, find some exhilarating trails, and summit mountains. Your legs get in a killer workout, you’ll certainly get your heartrate up, and you reward yourself with a killer view at the peak!

  • Core: 

    • Plank Holds

      • Modify: Start with 20-30 sec, work your way up whenever possible

      • Level Up: Add in rotations, side planks, moving high to low plank, or single leg

    • Sit Ups

      • Modify: Have someone hold your feet or leverage them under something

      • Level Up: Accumulate reps each session or add in a V-Up or Double Crunch

Never underestimate the power of your own body and using what you’ve got in your environment. You can make these movements as basic or as advanced as you need to with a little bit of creativity. Summer vacation is not an excuse to laze around all the time. Make your lazing all the more worth it by getting in some great quality movement with excellent form that suits your current abilities. Master the basics with just your body and watch how it translates and transforms to your usual weight training sessions!

Coach Jamie’s Favorite Bodyweight Workout

MURPH

Each year, usually on Memorial Day, you’ll see large groups of people participating in a workout fondly called Murph. This workout is to honor Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was killed in action in Afghanistan and received a medal of honor. This workout pushes you and humbles you and should NOT be taken lightly. (See below for scaling options!)

1 Mile Run

then:

Partition the following as needed:

100 Pull Ups

200 Push Ups

300 Air Squats

then:

1 Mile Run

(Some people do this with a weighted vest. I am not some people)

  I usually break this up by doing 1 Mile run, and then 20 rounds: 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, 15 air squats followed by another mile run. If these movements are not typically in your repertoire (especially at this volume) I would HIGHLY recommend a scaled option.

SCALED HALF-MURPH

½ Mile Run

then:

50 Pull ups

100 Push Ups

150 Air Squats

then:

½ Mile Run

Cut the reps down as needed and don’t overdo it! Break it up in any way that feels sustainable to you and prepare to feel humbled. You can bounce back and forth between pull ups, push ups, and squats in any way that works for you and your level of fitness. Other scaling options would be a jumping pull up, banded pull up, TRX row or Body Row (if you have bars or TRX handles).

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