Featured article for crosstrainingpro.com
To get stronger we have to go heavy and hard, right? Wrong. Its ok, I used to think so too. I would add more and more weight to all my exercises because I thought that was the only way forward. But, because the weights were so high I had to up my recovery time. This meant that most of the hours I would spend in the gym were spent sitting- very little training was actually getting done. I am not saying that going heavy is wrong, or should be stopped, because done right, it can yield awesome gains. For some great ‘heavy weight’ workouts head to: crosstrainingpro.com! However, it is not the only method out there.
Read on to find out how these four body weight exercises can help you reach and obliterate your fitness goals.
- Slow down
If you are anything like me then you probably think that the faster you can do an exercise, and the more reps you complete, the fitter you will become- something a lot of gym bunnies would agree with I am sure. I mean how many people have you seen in the gym rushing through sloppy movements, that probably wouldn’t even qualify as a rep, just to hit their target numbers?
Although most of us think that more is more, in reality, if you want to get the most from every exercise- from sit ups to squats, and increase your gains, then taking things slow is far more beneficial. By slowing your movements down, (not super slow, but just concentrating on control, range and preventing excess motion), you will increase the resistance on every rep. This will increase the load on your muscles, promote pure strength and get you fitter faster.
- Amplify your range of motion
Adding more weight to an exercise is not the only way to make it more difficult. By simply increasing your range of motion, you can up your gains on every rep because our bodies were made for maximum range of motion- even if it doesn’t feel like it at first!
The key is to go from as low as you can to as high as you can. So, to get more from your pull ups exaggerate the movement. So, go from a full dead hang (arms outstretched and body straight), and pull your chest (not chin) all the way up to the bar. By increasing your range of motion you will increase the distance you travel, and therefore intensify the exercise- no weights needed. Don’t worry if you have to decrease your reps, the strength stimulus your body will get from these epic pull ups will make up for it.
Another example for you is the squat. By increasing your range of motion here, i.e. squatting all the way down to the ground with your thigh pushing against your calves, you will increase your strength gains massively. When we squat and stop with thighs parallel to the ground we are selling ourselves short- so stop!
Make it harder
I bet you think this one is obvious, but it is probably not quite what you think. In order to make our training more effective we should think in terms of movement patterns, as opposed to exercises. For example, thinking of a chin up as a vertical pull. By doing this, we can take the chin up movement and increase the intensity, and resistance by doing the same movement pattern in a different exercise- thus altering load, and taxing other muscle groups
For example, by doing a single leg squat instead of a standard squat, we remove a point of contact with the ground, i.e. the foot. This doubles the load on your standing leg- without adding any external weights. Other examples are one arm pull ups, single leg calf raises and one arm push ups.
Another great way to make exercises harder without adding weights is by amplifying leverage. A great example of how this increases intensity is by comparing a standard push up with one where by your feet are on a bench. By raising the feet, more weight/ load is on the arms, so this will intensify the exercise- thus increasing your strength gains.
Getting the most from bodyweight workouts will take time and practise because the right technique is essential. However, proper technique is hard and so often to get started; you will have to just give the exercise everything you’ve got just to get it done. In order to progress and increase your gains, you may have to take a step back to get your technique on point. As you improve, you can just keep perfecting your technique, making exercises harder and harder by getting more ‘air’, aiming for more range, taking it slower or adding in a clap.
For more awesome idea’s for how you can reach your health and fitness goals, head to http://www.crosstrainingpro.com