Advanced Bodyweight Exercises: No Gym, No Problem! – Guest Post by Coach Adam Steer

August 3, 2009

Several readers have recently asked me about good bodyweight exercises to stay in shape while on vacation. While I could come up with a good routine or two that I have used in the past, my buddy Adam Steer is the master of advanced bodyweight exercises. I asked Adam to kindly do a guest post on this topic and give you an intro to what he is all about. Make sure and ask him questions in the comment section. He can certainly help tweak your bodyweight program to get better results.


exercise adam steer

[Gymnasts display incredible muscle tone largely from doing body weight exercises. I used to make the mistake of only using free weights to increase muscle tone and muscle definition. I believe the best way to that slim and ripped Hollywood physique is a combo of using weights along with body weight work.]

Advanced Bodyweight Exercises: No Gym, No Problem!
by Coach Adam Steer

We all gather here at this blog because Rusty shows us, week after week, how to reach our goals without falling into the trap of the mainstream vanilla flavored fitness advice.

As a reader of Fitness Black Book, you’re part of a savvy sub-culture that wants to make the right choices and do big things without wasting time on obsolete advice and chasing after outdated physique goals like getting hyoooge. I’m here because I believe in these things too. I adhere to the pursuit of the Functional Physique. Move well, live well and train intelligently – physique will follow.

Mainstream fitness offers you two basic options: the no pain, no gain route of dreadfully long sessions and repetitive exercise selections; or the path of decidedly ineffective exercise contraptions which lure you in with the promise of incredible results that require little effort and no time commitment—and we’ve all heard that one before!

Neither option interests me. I expect better than that, and I’m willing to work for it.

Maybe it’s time we went back to the future for a little inspiration?

Ancient Dudes Got Ripped Without Weight Stack Machines And Treadmills!

History abounds in examples of physical cultures that have used nothing more than the weight of the human body to achieve impressive levels of vitality, as well as seriously sexy physiques.

The Pahlavani, an ancient wrestling culture in Iran, made extensive use of bodyweight conditioning methods in their training. It is said that one famous wrestler, Pahlavan-e Bozorg Razaz, performed as many as 1,000 Shena (a form of push-up) per day as part of his conditioning regimen.

As early as the 5th century BC, the physical culture surrounding the wrestling traditions of the Indian Peninsula were based largely around bodyweight exercise. Some of these movements are now making a comeback, and the Bethak (Hindu Squat) and Dand (a form of swooping “push-up”) are popping up in the vocabulary of savvy exercise enthusiasts.

You might be surprised to learn that the training methods of these rugged Indian wrestlers intersected fully with the practice of yoga in its more ancient and rigorous form. Our imported Westernized version of yoga tends to emphasize the yielding side of the discipline, but that’s only half the equation. Few people realize that the Yogi of old were as strong as they were graceful and flexible.

My coach and mentor Scott Sonnon, founder of the Circular Strength Training® system, is fond of saying, “Yoga was never meant to be a thumb and a blanket, but rather a hurricane and an earthquake.” If you dig past the softer side of yoga and apply a little imagination, you’ll discover that old school yoga can be an incredible source of inspiration for bodyweight-only exercise options

Modern Dudes Can Do It Too!

Ever seen the physique of a male gymnast? These guys build incredible bodies simply by moving through increasingly sophisticated patterns against the resistance of gravity. According to renowned gymnastics coach Christopher Sommer, the overwhelming majority of a gymnast’s training is done without external weights or other resistance.

It’s all relative

When you master your own body weight, it appears as though you can defy gravity. In the health and fitness field this is called “relative strength”—having a high ratio of strength to bodyweight—and it gives you the ability to do some pretty amazing party tricks.

The performers of Cirque du Soleil are perfect examples of this. They seem to laugh in the face of gravity as they pry, push and pull their bodies through movements that appear almost superhuman to their audience.

Beyond show-stopping tricks, relative strength is all about how well you can apply your strength. If you’re capable of lifting huge weights in the gym but you can hardly drag your body off the couch without hurting your back, then it’s not necessarily useful strength. Bodyweight exercise is a great way to integrate strength into more sophisticated movement patterns. And being able to move well can reduce your risk of injury while increasing your performance in life, leisure and sport.

When you trip over a crack in the sidewalk, your body must react instantly in order to remain upright. This righting reflex is automatic, but the way your body responds and which movement patterns are recruited to do the job can be trained by moving your body through all of its potential Degrees of Freedom. Anyone who has watched an accomplished martial artist take a fall effortlessly and soundlessly has seen one example of the end result of such training. However, you have to train it correctly if you want the right movements to be available when you need them.

Are you firing on all cylinders?

One of the most frequent comments I hear from new clients who already have an extensive training history is, “Wow, I discovered some new muscles after our training session!” My clients are often strong, fit people, but by taking their bodies through more complex patterns of movement using only their bodyweight, I’m able to connect the dots to get all their muscles firing in concert along the various chains of tension.

You see, they lied to us in high school gym class. The body isn’t just a brick and mortar collection of individual, isolated muscles. It’s an orchestra of interconnected muscle tissue which pulls across long swaths of tension, all held together by a substance called myofascia. Myofascia is like a huge envelope that encompasses and connects all our muscle fibers. Understanding this sea of tension helps us to understand that muscles are more like pockets in one vast and continuous structure. But we’ve become so accustomed to attempting muscle isolation in our strength training culture that we’ve forgotten how to tap into our full movement potential.

What muscle does that exercise work?

I heard a great story about a strength coach in New York City by the name of Charles Staley. Apparently a guy came up to him while he was performing a certain exercise and asked him what muscle he was working. He reportedly answered, “Ya know when you’re, say, on a football field, and someone throws you the ball, and you sprint and catch it?” The hapless gym rat said, “Sure.” Staley said, “It works that muscle.”

In the real world we don’t isolate muscles. We use them together in complex patterns. If we train the right patterns, we’ll be able to call upon them when we need them. Or, we can train two dimensionally and be stuck for an answer whenever someone throws us a football.

This is where the Circular Strength Training® system has been able to make such a brilliant contribution to health and fitness. CST has taken the intuitive efficiency of timeless physical cultures and plugged in the reliable, repeatable and efficient practices of modern sports science.

This old meets new—East meets West—approach to health and fitness is the harbinger of the next evolution in the fitness industry. The mainstream fitness industry would like us to stay “stuck in simplistic stupidity.” It empowers them, and it keeps us paying for memberships at their gyms. But what would they do if we figured out we could train at home, in the park, in a hotel room, or in any number of alternative spaces?

The word is spreading fast that we can ditch the gym and get even better results through exercising in more efficient and effective ways. Convention would have us believe that more is better. CST teaches us that better is better. And bodyweight exercise is one of the best, most portable ways to explore it.

Oh, And It’ll Also Kick Your Butt

The other great thing about bodyweight exercise is that it’ll kick your butt just as well, if not better than, pretty much any training method out there. When I show up without equipment, my clients break out in a cold sweat! They know that the toughest sessions are the bodyweight workouts.

Are you ready to experience your own old-school whoopin’? If so, give this simple yet sophisticated circuit a try. Do the following three exercises for thirty seconds each. Then rest for thirty seconds. That gives you one round of two minutes duration. Repeat that for anywhere from 6 to 10 rounds.

CST Leg Swoop

CST Mountain Climber

CST Quad Squat

These are the basic levels of these exercises. We can adjust the movement sophistication of each exercise in order to make them more or less difficult.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to a better, more efficient and smarter way to train. A way that suits the sort of lifestyle you embrace or you’re moving into. At the very least, I hope you’ve been inspired to ditch the gym for the rest of the summer to exercise in the great outdoors. Maybe you’ll even discover that the freedom of bodyweight exercise is an appealing option year round.

***
Adam, co-author of Bodyweight Exercise Revolution, offers a free and very complete bodyweight exercise workout manual at his BodyweightCoach.com blog. He’s a Head Coach for the Circular Strength Training® system and has taught CST workshops in Singapore, Australia, Canada, Washington State, New York City and Philadelphia. He also blogs about making better health and fitness choices at Better’s Better.

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

Hector Cuevas August 3, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Yes, everyone is looking to either exercise outside or in the comfort of their own home.. this is a great post, good job detailing the ways to get around those two dreaded options..

oh and I must say those are really interesting looking body weight exercises.. the leg swoop looked really cool – so cool, that I had to try it.. (it looks fun, but it takes some work)

P.S Fitness Black Book readers …for a video on how to build muscles, check out my link..

lenoard like gym August 3, 2009 at 10:33 pm

hey great article man, but this question is for rusty. Hey i had a question about my 2 24 hours fasts that i do each week following eat stop eat. Say that i do 48 hours total of fasting each week, can i instead of fasting 24 hours for 2 days, can i fast for 30 hours one day and 18 hours another day and get the same results? Also if i fast from 2pm to 2pm the next day, after i break my fast with a meal, do i have to skip dinner and not eat anyhting till the next morning since its not in my window of eating or do i just continue my day normally after breaking the fast? Thanks

Mike OD - BodyFitBurn August 3, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Adam,

Great article. Love more of the bodyweight stuff nowadays especially when you add in more resistance factors that make it challenging. Wish I trained more BW exercises when I was younger and not have relied on machines so much…was strong on machines, but weak with my body…..but at least I am never too old to try to unleash the inner gymnast inside of me!

Greg at Live Fit August 3, 2009 at 11:41 pm

If you don’t believe bodyweight training builds impressive strength, try doing an Iron Cross sometime.

Frank Z August 4, 2009 at 12:29 am

Hey Adam thanks for doing this post,
In the past i have done circuit bodyweight exercises for 30 min-45 min while trying to go through zero rest between sets whenever possible, and the exercises were often to failure. The movements would consist of different pushup and ab exercise variations, isometrics, partner pushups and situps etc. is this the best way to achieve tone and also endurance for a sport, like basketball or soccer? Could i be working smarter by making sure i do the form correctly and with more rest in between sets instead of just trying to burn out each session?

Rafi Bar-Lev August 4, 2009 at 1:28 am

What can I comment on this besides saying that body weight exercises are awesome? Very well written article Adam!

-Rafi

Jason G August 4, 2009 at 1:29 am

I think a lot of people don’t add body weight exercises because they only think that there are push-ups and pull-ups. I am personally going to train with body weight exercises until I can do the following three exercises cleanly:

Full Planche Pushups

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyuJ3T0sQ88

Front Lever Pullups

http://www.youtube.com/v/

90 degree pushups/hollowback press

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rghpvUUy7bA

I hope these exercises will impress the ladies at the bar. I am tired of taking my barbell set out on Friday nights.

Good Luck!

Ian Kelley August 4, 2009 at 2:02 am

Great stuff. I especially liked the fitness history as I am a big fan of historical fitness people like Eugene Sandow and Charles Atlas. Is it ok if I don’t ditch the gym I kind of like it there. It’s where my friends are and they have a sauna, tennis courts and a nice pool. Oh and thanks for the breakdancing videos!

Tyler F August 4, 2009 at 2:12 am

Rust and Adam,
I am very pleased that there is now a post on body weight training on Fitness Black Book. Over the past several months I have been getting more and more in to it, with the goals of being able to do hand stand push-ups and planche push-ups (I’m well on my way to accomplishing both!). I’ve also been developing my L-seat, and plan on training to do a muscle-up soon.

This post makes me think back to an earlier one from Rusty where he mentioned being extremely sore after playing basketball for several hours, despite training hard on the treadmill 4+ times a week. It just goes to show how important it is to train your body in a practical way that is beneficial to everyday life. The other day at the gym, I watched a very massive man attempt to do pull-ups. He couldn’t do even one. His excuse? He was to “buff” from weight training…

Tyler August 4, 2009 at 2:18 am

Rusty and Adam,
Great post. I’m so pleased you guys did an article on body-weight excersing– I’ve been training in this way for the last several months, with the goals of doing handstand push-ups and planche push-ups (I’m well on my way to accomplishing both!)

For those interested in intense bodyweight excerises, check out http://www.beastskills.com they have some really great tutorials on there.

Adrian August 4, 2009 at 5:24 am

I much prefer gym to home training but if you are absolutely forced to train then it’s an option. I loved Naked Warrior videos that Pavel Tsatsouline, showed some great exercises, push ups or squat modifications that are challenging and helps building strength. This is post is good too, thanx!

Cheers

Rahul August 4, 2009 at 6:40 am

That was just a great post, Adam and great idea Rusty. I totally agree with the logic of BW excercises ie: higher functional strength and greater strength to weight ratio. Not to mention, this stuff looks hellishly more impressive than lifting weights.

However, I don’t much beyond the basic push-up, pull-ups and dips etc. Is there any site on the net you would recommend which gives a complete bodyweight training program and details on how to slowly build up strength to get to the point that u can do some of the stuff like planche push-ups etc? Am sure lot of people could benefit by just going on a complete BW program for certain periods in between their regular training.

Fit Jerk - Flawless Fitness August 4, 2009 at 8:12 am

Interesting, the leg swoop can help out some breakers develop their core strength. How about a swoop and circle through so you have to hop with the stationary leg for the swooping leg to pass? Yeah… THAT’LL kill ya!

Helder August 4, 2009 at 8:33 am

All i can say is that i totally agree with it, i’ve been doing BWT for long, first i started to train a few months at the gym, then a few months outdoors, but in the last year i’ve basically been training only outdoors, and i feel better than ever, i feel lighter, faster, stronger, movements feel more natural, and i look better, more balanced.

I’ve always been inspired by gymnasts, so i’ve started to think about it 2 years ago, there had to be something more than just weights at the gym. I also researched a lot about ancient Greece and the deeds and strenght of their athletes and soldiers was something impressive, and they already had a lot knowledge about training.

Yoga was always something very inspiring to me, though i never practiced, but i’ve seen some displays of strength and body control that has impressed me a lot.

Rambodoc August 4, 2009 at 9:12 am

Rusty,
I would urge more sophisticated and discerning students of fitness to buy Adam’s book on bodyweight exercise. Here is the link:http://www.bodyweightexerciserevolution.com/. I have found Adam a consistent source of fitness techniques that border on the exotic and bewitching. Watching him perform the leg swoop or Sonnon prance around like an ape looks overly simple, till you try it. Once you do, you worship that level of mobility and fitness that allows you to move as if there are no ligaments or tight tendons.
Those over 40 will appreciate what I am saying, at least! For this age group, I strongly urge mobility to be given as much importance as strength!

Marc Feel Good Eating August 4, 2009 at 9:36 am

Thank you Adam, very well written and full of great information.
I’ve enjoyed your blog for a while now. You ever do seminars in SW. Florida?

Rusty, thank you as always. Talk about body weight exercise, my kids and I have a new found love for stand up paddle boarding.
Great way to have fun and work out at the same time.
Have a great week.

Marc

Ian Kelley-Organicbodydiet.com August 4, 2009 at 10:37 am

People knew how to get lean, toned strong and defined over 100 years ago and I have the proof. The mainstream fitness industry has everyone running on a treadmill like a hampster on a wheel. If you look back in fitness history you find that gymnasts were the most slim toned athletes before modern gyms weight training even existed. Body weight exercises truly do get you toned and burn fat and I love this post. Although I was joking in my last post about how much the leg swoops resemble break dancing from the 80’s I love the message. I was also noticing from my instructor training for the new Les Mills Body Combat how it is just Billy Blanks’s Tae Bo from the 90’s repackaged with some new music and choreography. People tend to want whatever is new in fitness but really the truth can be found in the old secrets that have been lost and forgotten. Check out gymnast Bobby Pandour(born in 1876) at http://www.sandowplus.co.uk among others. It is a non-profit historical site that I love. Pretty strong evidence that you do not need weights or a gym to get impressively toned and ripped. Enjoy

Anna @ pathtofatloss August 4, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Interesting stuff, Rusty! I’m going to have to follow Adam’s stuff. I did some of the exercises and they sure can be tough. These are great ideas for the boot camp too. Thanks for sharing!

Anna

Adam Steer - Better's Better August 4, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Hector – Yeah, that’s the great thing about CST bodyweight exercise. Not only can you get a kick butt workout, but you’re also developing skills and coordination.

Lenoard like gym said: Brad, the author of ESE, is a buddy of mine and we’ve talked about some of this stuff. First off, 24 hours is just a nice round number, not a magic one. The research indicates that somewhere in the 18 to 24 hour range the magic starts to really happen. So you’d probably want to go with at least 18 hours. After 24 hours (again not a magical cut-off number) the benefits seem to start to slowly reduce. And if you’re using the ESE method, no matter what time you finish your fast you just take back up your normal daily eating routine. There are no windows. Just stop eating for 24 hrs (approximately) then start again with your normal patterns.

Mike OD – There are so many variables we can play with… There’s a whole world of fun waiting to unleash your inner gymnast! I can do things now that I’d never dreamed of when I was so “seemingly” strong under the bar.

Greg – There a ton of examples like the Iron Cross. I find it hard to believe when people say that bodyweight exercise isn’t challenging enough…! :-O

Frank Z – You definitely want to keep the form at or above a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. In CST we call this the Rate of Perceived Technique (RPT). When you exercise you aren’t just conditioning muscles and cell metabolism, your building movement patterns that you can call on in life and sport. When you train with an RPT lower that 7, you start training variables that are unpredictable, unknowable and are not reproducible when you need them. Also, for sports like soccer and basketball I’d recommend protocols that involve explosive effort followed by low intensity recovery rather than long stretches without rest.

Rafi Bar-Lev -Thanks Rafi!

Jason G – Great challenge exercises man! The full planche is a killer. With my heavy lower body I’m still working on that one… You might have some success with the ladies if you actually perform them ON the bar. Awesome!

Ian Kelley – If we go back passed the polished chrome and blinking lights of modern fitness facilities, it’s amazing how much richness there is to be discovered in the stories of physical culture! Oh, and regarding the breakdancing, my clients all give me a line something like that when we start out… 😉 Then they get hooked and before they know it they’re doing stuff they never would have believed possible. The stuff in those clips is just the tip of the iceberg.

Tyler F – Too buff, huh…? Good one! Yeah, strength, like any attribute, is very venue specific. Only by training it through an entire spectrum of movement potential can you become versatile in being able to apply it in different situations. In CST we use a perceptual tool call the 6 Degrees of Freedom when designing programs to make sure we take the body through all the different possible movement patterns.

Adrian – The gym certainly has a place in our physical culture. Heck, I train most of my clients in one (although sometimes we get some pretty funny looks. LOL). I just want people to understand that there is a whole world of possibilities beyond the conventional and two-dimensional thinking we find in most (not all) gyms these days.

Adam Steer - Better's Better August 4, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Rahul – We’ve got a totally free workout program that we offer from the blow (bodyweightcoach.com). The other option is to buy the Bodyweight Exercise Revolution ebook that goes into great detail in how to build up your bodyweight exercise prowess. Another option on the free side is beastskills.com. Oh, and there are lots of video examples if you click on the “Bodyweight TV” tab on the top menu at BodyweightCoach.com…

Fit Jerk – Actually, that’s one of the variations we use. You can see that and a bunch more on this YouTube clip (Leg Swoop is 2nd exercise in):

Helder – Yoga, in it’s older iterations, was definitely as much about “overcoming” as it was about “yielding.” Of course, in the west we are more focused on strength and power so it makes sense that we adopted and imported the softer side of disciplines like yoga and taiji….

Rambodoc -Thanks doc! 😉

Marc – We’ve come close to setting some stuff up in FL. I’ve got a good friend and CST instructor in Jacksonville. At any rate, if you’re on my email list you’ll be the first to know. And speaking of kids and exercise, my daughter just amazes me how quickly she picks up stuff I spend weeks trying to perfect! 😉

Ian Kelley – Amen! Good movement is good movement. It’s out there to be discovered. That’s what I love about Coach Sonnon. He went digging for it, assembled it all, looked at it, and reassembled it in a comprehensive system that makes sense and is accessible.

Anna – Have fun with it Anna! Download the free ebook, it’s well worth the few seconds it takes…

Adrian August 4, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Adam, thanx for answer 😉 I will try some of the exercises for sure!

Now, you think bodyweight training can give better results for a skinny ecto wanting to gain some muscle (30-40lbs) and have a nice beach body than training 3 times a week on a routine made of compound movements mostly? I do know that bodyweight exercises are great for relative strength but how about transforming the skinny body to buff one?

Cheers

Norbi August 4, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Adam,

thank you for the guest post! I really like it that your main focus is keeping and improving one’s mobility and athletic performance. Although I just started weightlifting in bodybuilding style to gain some muscle size, I’ll try to give your exercises a try in between (I got the free e-book you guys are offering). Another interesting thing I realized after looking at the exercises is that they are very similar to the warm – up / conditioning part of the martial art training I go to.

Adam Steer - Better's Better August 4, 2009 at 6:45 pm

Adrian – You can definitely build what I call the “Functional Physique” with bodyweight only. Think of the male gymnast as an example of what you can expect if you apply yourself to a mass building bodyweight regime. If you are looking for serious size you are probably going to have to lift weights. But incorporating bodyweight training will help keep your movement potential sharp and integrate the strength gains you make with the weights into more functional patterns.

Norbi – The genesis of Circular Strength Training was tied tightly into the martial arts. It has since grown into a system of health and wellness that spans across any sport or training goal. But yeah, a lot of the movements were inspired by ancient physical traditions such as traditional MA, yoga, Russian dance, etc.

David @ The Fat Loss Authority August 4, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Adam, great post.

I’ve started to incorporate more body weight exercises in my training regime and it’s incredible how challenging it can be.

My eyes really opened up when I bumped into an old friend who’s still into gymnastics. I wrote about it here -> http://www.thefatlossauthority.com…gains-without-weights/

The exercises he talked about and the things he could do were unreal. And if you didn’t know he was a gymnast, you’d swear he was training like a mad man with crazy poundages and unlimited supplements. The guy has never taken/needed protein shakes!

Salman August 4, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Hey, would these types of exercises be safe enough for a teen (I’m 16). And how much muscle could i build using them, not that i wanna build a lot, but just a little more to my arms. Thanks.

Venkat August 4, 2009 at 11:48 pm

Adam,
Can you suggest body weight back exercises other than the pull up? A bodyweight squat, pushups and different variations of the push up will take care of the rest of the body, but if I dont have access to a pull up bar, I cant work my back.
Thanks

Adam Steer - Better's Better August 5, 2009 at 6:32 am

Venkat – Ever tried the straddle planche with bent arms? The lats are used as isometric stabilizers and they are activated like h*ll… (here’s a link xercisefactor.com/view_video.php?viewkey=be7e3ba84431ad9d055a)

For the glutes you can use an old classic, one-legged hip bridge. But I like to use an isometric version, trying to drive the hips towards the sky as much as possible and concentrating on glute contraction for anywhere from 30 – 60 seconds.
(photo bodyweightcoach.com/hip-bridge-one-legged-photo/)

Salman – Of course… We were made to move this way. They are safe for my 4 year old daughter. 🙂 As far as muscle mass goes, you’ll always pack on muscle commensurate with what you are subjecting your structure to. In other words, you’ll build the muscle you need in order for your body to adapt to what you’re asking it to do. At your age, it’s going to be easier to pack it on no matter what you’re doing. But using exercises (bodyweight or not) that are lower rep / higher intensity are going to stimulate muscle mass more than high rep stuff. So variations like adapted one-legged squats, one-arm press ups & one-arm pull ups would certainly be options. I also like lots of isometric work (static holds) using bodyweight exercise in order to stimulate mass.

Vic Magary - GymJunkies August 5, 2009 at 9:08 am

Great post Rusty! I use body weight training for myself and my clients all the time. Thanks!

Baz August 5, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Hey adam,

I must say I think I was one of the people who asked Rusty about bodyweight excercise while on vacation only a few days ago so my eyes were wide open when I saw this post. If I were to think as I usually would, to be honest I wouldn’t believe that bodyweight excercises could be more effective than weights, however, when you mention things like ancient times where weights were not around and yet men had the most amazing bodies it makes you think. The movie 300 is a great example of that. Yes it may be a movie though it was a potrayal of what men looked like in those days without gyms and barbells. I have done mountain climbers before I started my weights program in order to get my body used to the idea of hard work and I van honestly say that I have never sweated so much while performing a single excercise. Great post and came at the perfect time for me

thanks heaps

Sam August 5, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Rusty or anybody else with experience,

I remember reading in one of your older posts that doing marathon cardio is a good way to actually lose some bulkiness in the body and also can help people really lose a lot of fat fast if they do not care about maintaining as much muscle. I have been doing around 60-90 minutes of cardio daily at 75-80% heart rate, which I think is due more to the ephedra product, Hydroxynol, I am taking. I also have been lifting 3 times a week while following a modified version of Lyle’s Rapid Fat Loss Handbook. Since my cardio is much more than he recommends and at a higher intensity, I have been eating very low carb, chicken breast, vegetables, and limit to 2 pieces of fruit a day, but just with more calories than he recommends in his book since I want to avoid a metabolic slowdown. I am trying to get ready for a vacation I have beginning September 2nd and would like to lose around 15 pounds in that month. I know this is crazy and will most likely mean I will lose some muscle, however I figure eating a high protein diet will spare this somewhat. If you could please give me your thoughts on this I would appreciate it.

Norbi August 5, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Adam,

just out of curiosity: have you ever heard of ‘gravity training’? If yes, what’s your opinion about it? (as it uses your bodyweight for different exercises as well, so I’m not completely off topic 🙂 ).

Thanks,
Norbi

Adam Steer - Better's Better August 5, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Vic – Yeah, me too. Right in the middle of a gym full of equipment… 🙂

Baz – Sometimes my clients visibly quiver when they see I haven’t pulled any equipment out. (insert evil laugh here…)

Sam – To be honest, I think you’ve concocted a perfect cocktail to make yourself sick and injured. That much volume on anything close to Lyle’s RFLH is just too much IMO. It’s easy to fall into the trap of more is better. And I agree that it is possible to lose fat much more quickly than conventional thought would have us believe. But I don’t think that running yourself into the ground is the best way. If you are going to stick to such a low carb regime, I’d recommend maintaining your weight training and throwing in some short, sweet and high intensity energy system work (can be something like the circuit above). You’ll rev up the metabolism, encourage GH and keep from crashing your immune system with the chronic cardio.

Norbi – I took a look at the Gravity thing. Reminds me a lot of the Pilates apparatus… Looks interesting but not something I’ve tried or could comment on.

Yash August 6, 2009 at 12:23 am

Adam, that chains of tension link/article was awesome. As was the one above obviously haha. I like your point about bodyweight exercises and sports. How efficiently and quickly you can move your own body in space is ultimately what translates to sports or other activities. There’s no iron on the field, just you and the other guy.

Mike Foster August 6, 2009 at 12:51 am

Amazing information, thanks! Just goes to show that you don’t need machines to stay in shape, just hard work and desire.

peace,
mike
livelife365

Yavor August 6, 2009 at 5:35 am

Mobility, functionality and well being are a missing link in many people’s fitness lifestyles.

You are onto something, Adam. Awesome post!

Cheers,

Yavor

Flynn August 6, 2009 at 11:09 am

This is an amazing article. It’s great to have alternative methods to the typical work out advice. One body weight exercise I have been doing is the plank exercise. I really find it helping my whole core. I can now easily manage two minutes of this. If I’m going to keep improving should I do the exercise for longer or should I add weight?

Thanks

Jim August 6, 2009 at 9:34 pm

hi adam,

rusty advises to do 1hour of cardio for 21 straight days to get in vacation straight. i am also doing the weights… do you think it would be okay to do 15min of weights and 45min of cardio.. .with 20min being hiit? i dont have 1 hour 15min each day but could do 1hour per day.. your thoughts? great article by the way… hope you do more in the future… very helpful.

chuck August 7, 2009 at 4:34 am

hi rusty, i just got my hand on beachbody’s insanity, and i must say it is a tough workout. all bodyweight exercise without weights. only interval!!! could you review on that?

GeoffDixon August 7, 2009 at 10:36 am

Hey Adam. Greta post,bro!! I miss all you guys over at RMAX

Joe August 7, 2009 at 11:06 am

Hi rusty,

is it okay to do the 21days straight of cardio along with Eat stop eat? Didn’t know if this would be to extreme along with fasting 2 days a week since you are doing 60min of cardio with 20min of high intensity for 21days. thanks for your help…

Shaun August 9, 2009 at 3:10 pm

What a fantastic post. Ever since i started to train i always knew that starting with your own body weight was the best way, especially to increase strength. That is how the old guys did it for sure. Today there is too much supplement and steroid use and it’s not really needed. I won’t bother write an article on this, ill just share it with others 🙂

STAY FIT!
SHAUN

David August 10, 2009 at 10:45 pm

I’ve been using these workouts for a week now, along with cardio, low-volume low-rep exercises, alot of protein, and a healthy low calorie diet.

I am doing all that because I am trying to gain muscle (definition) while burning body fat for solid abs.

Is it possible to gain muscle while dieting?
Or should I gain muscle, THEN diet hard for abs?

I’ve been doing these workouts and dieting for about 2-3 months now and I am not getting very good results.
I’m asking you, Rusty, because I love this site and I trust your judgment on matters such as these.
Help would be appreciated!

LynneP August 12, 2009 at 11:18 am

Hi Coach Steer,

Thanks for the doing this guest blog and for the videos. I’m a martial artist (female, almost 52) and body weight exercises look like they would provide the functional strength and flexibility I need to become a better martial artist.

journeyman August 14, 2009 at 7:51 pm

USA is great for the CST method.

Daniel Munday August 16, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Awesome stuff! Bodyweight training is a great no excuses way to get in a training session anywhere. These exercises just crank it up a notch and proves that bodyweight exercises are a lot more than just push ups and squats.

Chrishealey August 17, 2009 at 2:56 am

So I have been using this workout routine that Jillian Michaels from The Biggest Loser, its a set of different 2-5 minute workout emphasizing different area of the body or techniques. She has released it in the form of a widget, so I put it on my google homepage and every time I open my internet explorer the widget is on there so I just click a new routine and do a lil worktout before surfing the net. You can even put it on Facebook (Which I did) and other places…but my homepage and Facebook are good enough for me cuz I find myself doing routines 2-3 times a day with Jillians Slimdown widget. If you wanna try it out go to: [Jillian Michaels Slimdown Widget|http://www.clearspring.com/widgets/4a6f4a5eb15c66c6?p=-&flv=cat%3d]

Its free, so let me know what you think of it. Hope you slim down just like I have!!

LynneP August 18, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Jillian has started selling fat burners and other crap, too.

Ab Circle Pro August 20, 2009 at 10:32 am

You can get into great shape without spending coin at the gym. I find dips to be one of the best exercises to transform your upper body. They focus on tricepts, shoulders and chest all at once. It’s no beginner exercise but I do them at home just by putting two chair together and folding my legs.

georgette pann October 19, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Awesome…we bootcamp trainers love to see innovative bodyweight training!

MacKnife50 January 11, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Coach, you’re all over the place. I subscribe to the bodyweight coach site. People, if you want the truth, Coach has it for you. Pay attention and be well for it.

Nik March 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Excellent post!

just a little bit of knowledge I’d like to contribute.
The reference to the wrestler who did 1000 pushups a day has NOTHING on Karate master Mas Oyama!

Sensei Oyama once spent 18 months in isolation on a mountain in Japan. He did 2000 pushups a day, trained in Karate for 8 hours a day, and practiced his vertical leaps over ever growing reeds. I just thought I’d share just a small part of this interesting man’s life with some of the readers.

like I said…EXCELLENT POST!

Mayhem April 27, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Hello,you see i have designed a fullbody bodyweight routine that im planning to use and i will do it in the days when i lift weights my question is should i do the bodyweight routine before or after my usuall workout?

Bryan - Workouts Without Weights August 30, 2010 at 12:35 am

Some people that I have talked to want a straight forward workout without weights and are kind of old school.
I do my best to tell them that a dynamic full body exercise program can be better because it requires your muscles and brain to adapt to new and changing postures.
These videos are a good way to try and convince them otherwise.

Chris- Swiss Ball March 20, 2011 at 5:40 pm

I used to be real adamant about training with weights and I would scoff at the idea of body weight exercises. It wasn’t until i actually tried them that I realized how effective they were

jay wilner November 30, 2011 at 4:03 pm

never thought about just using my body to workout. been going to the gym and using weights pretty much all my life. more out of habit and hesitancy to change than anything else.

Also doing beginner pilates exercises which I guess is a type of workout without weights huh?

thanks for great article. cool!

jay wilner

Randall December 5, 2012 at 8:35 am

I visited many web pages except the audio quality for audio
songs existing at this site is truly excellent.

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