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Bodyweight Training: The Biggest Problem And The Solution

Jan 18, 2008
The key to success with ANY form of physical training is PROGRESSION. If you are not progressing, you are not improving. And if you're not improving, you're wasting your valuable training time. Progressive training (whether it be with outside resistance like dumbbells or barbells, or with your own bodyweight) is what translates into real world physical improvements you can USE, and physique improvements you can SEE.

So, it should go without saying that in order to get the most from your bodyweight training, you must progressively become better. For your exercise sessions to be successful, (producing the ability and physical changes you desire), you must be making progress. If you are not increasing the challenge of your training on a regular basis, you are doing little more than manual labor, and you will never reach your goals.

Sounds simple, but here's the biggest problem:

Bodyweight training is different than progression in other types of training because the weight of resistance is fixed! Your bodyweight does not change. So, how do you continue to progress when the weight you are using as resistance remains the same, or actually becomes less due to fat loss?

In other forms of resistance training, there are multiple ways to progress, for example... increasing the weight you use for the exercise. You can use heavier dumbbells. Or you can add more weight to the bar.

But these options don't exist for bodyweight training. And unfortunately, instead of searching for a reasonable solution to this problem, most people ONLY progress by increasing the amount of repetitions performed. And this is ONE way to progress.

However, this SINGULAR progression approach often leads to boredom, or worse, overuse injuries. In either case, the bodyweight training only goes so far.

So, what's the solution?

In simple terms, look to progress on multiple levels. Be creative, and there are many ways to progress even when the weight of the resistance stays the same. Here are a few of my favorites:

- Split the exercises up into Basic, Intermediate and Advanced levels. Progress by increasing the difficulty of the exercises in the program.

- Increase the amount of repetitions performed PER SESSION. Don't go for high reps per set, but increase the amount of overall reps by doing more set, circuits, rounds, etc. In this way, you can increase the volume of your workout effectively and safely.

- Reduce rest periods between exercises, sets, circuits, rounds, etc. This places greater stress on both the muscles and cardiorespiratory systems by increasing the density of the workout.

- Here is the most important one. Do a combination of all three. Simultaneously uses more difficult exercises, do more overall reps and reduce the rest periods. Talk about a progression method that forces your body to become stronger, leaner and more fit.

Here is the one thing you should notice. All the above progression methods do not involve increasing the amount of resistance. And I think these methods should be used with weighted resistance programs as well.

As you can clearly see, bodyweight training is not limited because of the inability to add weight to the exercises. There are many ways to progress that does not involve only adding weight. Multiple progression methods should be used in bodyweight exercise as well as other forms of training.

Are you using these progression methods effectively in your training?
About the Author
Coach Eddie Lomax builds strong, lean, athletic bodies by using multiple progression methods in Workout Without Weights. Bodyweight calisthenics are an integral part of his Athletic Body Workout.
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