How to Use the World's Oldest Training Method for NEW Results
Whenever a new bodyweight program comes out, people seem intent on using it as an excuse to get into a debate about bodyweight training vs. weight training.
Here’s the problem: there seems to be a disturbing trend in the fitness industry to “pigeon hole” and compartmentalize – that is, if a type of training is good for something, people immediately assume it’s good ONLY for that.
Hence circuits become a “fat loss” training method—despite the fact that circuits can be used to build muscle. And it happens with a variety of training styles, even one of the oldest and most commonplace: bodyweight training.
And, with respect to the aforementioned debate, it’s become very obvious that a lot of people hate on bodyweight training. Or really, it’s not even hate—so many people simply discount bodyweight workouts altogether, and refuse to consider how much they have to offer.
But I’d go as far to say that not only does bodyweight training have merit, but it has some unique advantages over weight-bearing movements. (Seriously.) I am not trying to tell you that you need to use bodyweight training in lieu of weights; rather, I am telling you that you can use bodyweight training to get more out of weights.
I’ll get to some specifics, but let’s first touch on some of the general advantages of training with body weight: cost and convenience.
You can get a complete training session with almost no equipment at all. I say “almost” because, admittedly, it’s very difficult to truly train your back with no equipment whatsoever. Of course, if we add a simply piece of equipment like a pull up bar (or a tree branch), you now have access to some of the best and most effective bodyweight exercises in the world.
That single limitation aside, you could do a bodyweight workout at home, in a hotel while traveling, or in the gym.
Of course, you knew all of that. Just because a training method is cheap and convenient doesn’t mean it’s “good” right? Of course not. Okay, smart-ass, fair enough.
Due to the extremely versatile nature of BW training, it’s exceptionally easy to move seamlessly from one exercise to another. That, coupled with the fact that it’s simple to increase and decrease the intensity of the exercise, makes it very easy to see how bodyweight training can be used effectively for fat loss.
There are a few ways to do this, all of which are tremendously valuable.
20 reps per side
As you can see, adding bodyweight training into a pre-existing program is an easy way to take your fat loss efforts to the next level.
As we all know, strength isn’t just about the size of your muscles—if they aren’t wired right, you’re not going to be able to lift to your potential. Similarly, the more you can lift, the bigger you’ll get. It’s an upward spiral of strength and size, but it all depends on the nervous system.
Without falling back too heavily on bodybuilding clichés or so-called and oft-maligned bro-science, you’ve heard of mind-muscle connection—which admittedly sounds a bit like either mysticism or complete bullshit.
That said, mind-muscle connection is really just a colloquial way of referring to neurological efficiency, or the degree to which your nervous system will “allow” your muscles to get involved in a lift. Put somewhat more simply, it’s learning to contract your muscles as effectively as possible by maximally firing up your nervous system.
Unfortunately, that isn’t as easy as it sounds. Our bodies are designed to perform tasks as simply, efficiently, and with as little work as possible. Which means that all your body “cares” about is getting the job done; when set up to press that heavy bar off your chest, it doesn’t take into account the fact that you’re trying to grow your pecs.
Instead, you’ll recruit whatever muscles (and muscle fibers) lift the bar with the least amount of effort. If your triceps are dominant, they’re going to overpower the pecs and you won’t get the recruitment you need to stimulate your chest to grow. Obviously, this is something best avoided on the road to a well-developed physique.
The simplest and most effective way to circumvent this is with bodyweight training. Bodyweight exercises serves is a great way to “close the chain” on corresponding weight-bearing exercises; allowing you to create mind-muscle connection and increase neurological efficiency. To do this, we alternate open and closed chain movements—and in most cases, that will involve pairing bodyweight exercises with load bearing ones.
To make things simple, let’s stay with the example of benching and chest. As far as bodyweight exercises, a push up, which is a closed-kinetic chain exercise (CKCE). This is because your working limbs are grounded and fixed in place.
The bench press, on the other hand, is what we call an open-chain kinetic exercise (OCKE). In this case, the weight is free to move in space — a good thing because you’ll get more overall muscle recruitment and nervous system activation. But that uncertainty of the path of the weight could make it difficult to effectively isolate the firing of a specific target muscle.
Your open chained exercise requires more overall muscle recruitment and nervous system activation because of the need to stabilize the weight. But your closed chain exercise allows you to really fire up the exact muscles that you’re targeting.
Put simply, you start with a set of push-ups and then move onto the bench press.
As soon as you’ve done that set and amped up the timing and coordination of your pec activation, you bring that to bear on the bench press—you’ll notice that now, you can feel your pecs throughout the entire movement, allowing you greater recruitment, strength, and ultimately size.
Don’t confuse this with a pre-fatigue method though. You only want to do enough reps, say 8-10, to really get a feel for the pecs and get the nervous system primed. Start each rep by flexing the pecs and then explosively press of the ground. On the way down, focus on keeping the pecs actively flexed throughout the movement.
Another way to do this is to perform explosive push-ups, which have risen to popularity as part of what are called neural charge workouts.
By combining the bench press with a push up activation set, it’s like a neural 2-for-1, and the result is a more efficient firing of the nervous system, more strength and more muscle growth.
Along the same lines of using alternating open and closed chain movements to increase a general neurological efficiency, we can go a step further for a slightly more directed effect.
In this case, the goal is to utilize bodyweight movements to create a phenomenon known as post-activation potentiation (PAP).
Essentially, post-activation potentiation is a phenomenon by which certain muscular performance characteristics are briefly enhanced as a result of their “contractile history.”
Which is to say that your muscle tissue quite literally remembers recent stimulus, and, if coaxed correctly, can outperform previous set.
The way this is usually used is when exercises with a heavy load are done prior to explosive activity. This induces a high degree of CNS stimulation—the results of which is greater motor unit recruitment on subsequent sets, be they of the same exercise or something similar.
Simply, an explosive exercise done after a heavy one increases and potentiates the activation of the muscles involved in those exercises. Hence the name. Get it?
Of course, one of the most convenient and effective ways to incorporate explosive exercise is with bodyweight exercise.
Here are a few great examples of PAP pairings:
Keep in mind the reason for doing this—the explosive exercise increases CNS stimulation, and resultantly fiber recruitment. Which means that, for example, your second set of squats could actually be MORE productive than your first, thanks to the explosive nature of the jump squat.
Over time, pairing exercises like this will lead to increased power, speed, and (assuming you pair the right exercises) greater overall athleticism.
If that’s not an argument for bodyweight exercises making weighted ones more effective, I don’t know what is. PAP is effective, interesting, and above all, cool. Give it a shot next time you’re in the gym.
As you can see, bodyweight training has a long and storied history of getting people into shape—and despite what many people erroneously conclude, training with bodyweight is good for more than just warm-ups and days when you “can’t make it” to the gym.
If used properly and under the right conditions, bodyweight exercises can be used to take your fat loss, strength, and overall training to the next level. A tool in your toolbox, and one you can use in any number of situations. Give these a shot and I promise you will not be disappointed.
Which means, of course, that while the Bodyweight BURN program is great on it’s own, if used withing the context of a complete and balanced training strategy, the program becomes even more effective.
By combining programs like Bodyweight BURN with more conventional workouts, you have a new weapon in your arsenal for fat loss and muscle gain. A great example would be to take a moderate and balanced approach. Four weeks of Bodyweight BURN followed by 4-6 weeks of Final Phase Fat Loss.
And that’s why I’m offering you bonuses that include weights when you pick up Bodyweight BURN — because used together, these methods are by far more effective than when used on their own with exclusivity. And so, when you pick up Bodyweight BURN, I’m going to hook you up with HORMONAL SURGE TRAINING and FOUR MINUTE MONSTER SETS. Each of these is special in it’s own way – HST uses a completely unique mixed approach to optimizing your hormones, and 4MM is just some of the fastest fat-shredding workouts I’ve ever written.
Each of these is worth the price alone, but I’d rather hook you up and support a program I believe in.
Whether you decide to direct alternation, OR a more organically blended approach like those described above, it’s easy to see how bodyweight training can help you to take it to the next level.