By, Justin Purcell
So it seems that most of the modern day exercise approach is based around body weight, or low weight exercise. From P90X, Crossfit, and most of the late night infomercials that promise dramatic results if you by their magical piece of equipment. There is some validity in being able to train with your body weight, and most would find it surprising that many top level bodybuilders and power athletes would be unable to do a pull-up if they needed to.
I believe that everyone should be able to do body weight style exercises. Not necessarily for training purposes but for overall survival. Suppose you slipped and fell off a cliff, but you’re unable to hold yourself up, or pull yourself up, what do you do now? Now as an athlete that walks around over 300lbs I concede that an athlete half my size will run circles around me doing pull ups, but I still train them many times per week, and holding my bodyweight up isn’t a challenge.
So for beginners looking to add a little muscle and strength I believe body weight is an excellent tool to start with. You can build a solid foundation in that respect, and many of our armed forces train solely with body weight. Beginner level Crossfit start out with very basic body weight movements like sit ups, push-ups, pull ups, and jogging, but quickly progress into weighted movements once a foundation has been built. Body builders generally start out being able to do these movements, but body weight, and flexibility issues definitely come into play when attempting basic body weight movements. Power lifters, especially heavy weight class athletes would probably be unable to do a pull up in most cases, and it’s not to say that they’re weak or less of an athlete, but they don’t train it, and they don’t need it to be dominant in their sport. Although, on a basis of being impressed, I’m always taken back to see any athlete over 300lbs do a pull up. Even the industry is against us, most gyms can’t accommodate big athletes doing pull ups, the equipment isn’t rated for us.
So I believe the basics as a guideline for body weight exercises it to always train them, whether it’s a warm up to your workout or if you’re a beginner in the world of resistance training. I still firmly believe pull-ups build Lats and should be integrated into any training regimen. Push-ups, and sit-ups are also a good part of any training foundation. I used to crank out 2,000 pushups a day while working an 8 hour shift in between customers. It gave my chest muscles amazing endurance, and helped with my competitions in that I rarely get tired during any pushing event. The big point is to not rely on them. Your body adapts and gets bored, and unless you weight progressive increases indefinitely you will plateau and your results will diminish. So always keep your body guessing with new movements, techniques, and challenges, but always keep the old school tricks in your back pocket. If you continue to plateau or if you burn yourself out remember that supplements are there to take us to the next level. Protein and glutamine for recovery, and proper diet. With the right intake our outputs will never plateau.