BODY WEIGHT EXERCISES
THE POPULARITY OF TRAINING EQUIPMENT, systems, and fad diets is mostly the result of marketing—not a genuine attempt to help a generally out-of-shape society reach higher levels of fitness and well-being.
In this age, where our homes and gyms are cluttered with fitness gadgets, the simplest and most effective method for developing strength and losing fat has been largely overlooked—knowing how to train using nothing more than your body.
Even outside of SpecOps, the efficacy of body weight exercises has been proven time and again. Take, for example, Madonna, Bruce Lee, or the USSR’s two-time Olympic gold medalist Alexeev—arguably the strongest man in the world in his time—who was the first to clean and jerk 500 pounds.
Dallas Cowboys running back Herschel Walker who gained more yards than anyone in professional football history (and had a body to match). They, and countless others, primarily used body weight exercises to attain their ultimate physique and fitness.
Most weight training exercises isolate only certain muscles, requiring a fairly small portion of your body’s total muscle mass, unlike bodyweight exercises that incorporate many at once. These exercises have the added benefit of being much more demanding of core strength (6-pack anyone?) than exercises that require weights and machines.
Bodyweight exercises also use motions that keep you safe from the many chronic injuries, like joint problems, that come over time with weightlifting and other unnatural exercises which have little functional value in our daily lives.
For an exercise or workout to be functional, it must resemble the event being trained for as closely as possible. The performance demands of the average person consist mainly of manipulating their own body weight throughout the day. So what could be more functional for developing better strength in day-to-day activities than body weight movements?
But between couch potatoing and bench pressing—sitting on your butt and lying on your back—we’ve got a nation of functional weaklings. Seriously, when was the last time, outside of using gym benches or machines,
that you exerted yourself while sitting or lying down? (While you were alone, I mean. 😉 ) For too long these exercises have gone largely unnoticed by popular culture. Other than running and swimming, most people haven’t been raised to use their body alone for exercise.
The exploding popularity of yoga and pilates is a great example of the worth of body weight movements, although these methods, when used alone, utterly lack a systematic approach to developing all-around fitness.
My program has the advantage of making you proficient at using the one thing that you are never without: Your body. You will develop greater strength, power, muscular and cardiovascular endurance, speed, balance, coordination, and flexibility. Combined with a good diet and consistency, it will reward you with continuous results, challenges, and much greater body control.
The workouts can be done anywhere, anytime, and without costly gym memberships or equipment. With that said, even for those that insist on lifting weights, these exercises are a valuable addition.
You will be training as Achilles did before battle on the shores of Troy, training as ancient warriors the world over knew was best, training as future SpecOps warriors will to meet their own foes. Why? Because it works.
BODY WEIGHT EXERCISES DON’T ALLOW YOU TO ADJUST THE DIFFICULTY OF AN EXERCISE
There’s a common misperception out there that body weight exercise options are limited. Push Ups, Pull Ups, Sit Ups—and not much else.
Other people think it’s impossible to work certain muscle groups with body weight exercises.
Wrong again. Every single muscle group, and some you didn’t know existed can be worked without weights—from getting rid of a pencil neck to using your shin muscles to round out your calves.
The only limiting factor with body weight exercises is your creativity. Every weightlifting motion can be mimicked, made harder or easier, with your own body weight. And unlike those machines in the gym, there are seemingly infinite ways to vary any of my exercises, keeping your muscles guessing and growing for the rest of your life.
For example, I detail Push Ups that even a 600-pound man (or 70 year-old woman, for that matter) could do. And then there’s ones, like the Planche Push Up, most professional bodybuilders won’t be able to execute without lots of practice.
• Increase or decrease the amount of leverage.
• Perform an exercise on an unstable platform.
• Use pauses at the beginning, end, and/or middle of a movement.
• Turn an exercise into a single limb movement.
Again, let’s take the Push Up, a standard exercise that works your chest, shoulders, triceps, abs, obliques, and lower back (unlike benching which only works half of these). If you do Push Ups standing up with your hands against a wall a couple of feet in front of you, the exercise is pretty easy.
Then try them with your hands on an elevated surface, like the edge of a bureau or windowsill. The lower the surface you use—a desk, a couch, a coffee table, telephone books—the harder it gets.
Putting your hands on the floor, like a standard Push Up, is harder. If we put our feet on the coffee table and our hands on the ground, the exercise becomes significantly more difficult. This is using leverage to increase the exercise’s difficulty.
To make the exercise still harder we could place our hands on one or two balls, like a basketball. Now we’re using an unstable surface. Still harder would be to do basketball Push Ups with pauses at the bottom. Still not hard enough? Try doing them one-handed on the floor.
Then one-handed with your feet on the couch. Then on an unstable surface. Then with pauses… You get the idea. And this is only a simple example that can be repeated with many of my exercises. You’ll see the possibilities are endless.