Goku Training: Does Bodyweight Training Work? (2017)
100 push ups, sit ups, and squats every single day. But does that work? Today, I’d like to talk about calisthenics aka bodyweight only training.
If you’d rather watch than read:
Some of the resistance surrounding people who want to get in shape but haven’t made the jump yet includes statements such as ‘I don’t have time!’ or ‘I don’t have access to a gym!’. Which is understandable to an extent, we have a finite number of hours in a day and although the hyperbolic time-chamber would solve both those problems, we don’t have one. But I do have another solution for those people who can’t get to a gym.
Before I continue don’t get me wrong: I think weight training is very likely to be the most optimal way of gaining muscle mass and if your goal is purely aesthetics it’s the undisputed most effective way to achieve them in record time as long as you have a solid routine. But it isn’t strictly necessary, just because something is optimal doesn’t mean that there aren’t other methods to get to the goal. Sometimes we don’t need the best or the most efficient, we want what’s possible and achievable within our individual limits.
So what’s the solution? Bodyweight exercises done at a relatively high intensity for a high amount of volume.
This type of training is known as calisthenics and it definitely works. The benefits of weight training aren’t due to lifting weights per se, it’s because your body is going against resistance which loads the body with a stimulus high enough to encourage an adaptation. Rather than using weights, using bodyweight exercises is another way to load the muscles by using you own bodyweight as resistance.
To get stronger and therefore gain muscle, weights are the most efficient way of encouraging this adaptation because it’s easy to apply overload: you add a rep or a small amount of weight to the bar when you’re strong enough. This is what’s known as progressive overload and it’s necessary over time if you want to gain muscle.
There are many ways of encouraging progressive overload with bodyweight exercises but this is my personal preference:
>Pick a big exercise for the main 3 movement patterns (squat/push/pull)
>Set a timer for 7 minutes
>Get as many reps as you possibly can in 7 minutes
>Try to beat that record each time
So for me, my chosen exercises look like this:
Squat movement: pistol squats. First set: 10, total reps: 30
Pushing movement: push ups. First set: 50, total reps: 130
Pulling movement: chin ups. First set: 12, total reps: 32
After I set the timer I try to beat two records: My reps for the first set and my total reps in the 7 minutes. My first set is taken very close to failure and between each ‘set’ I rest around 30 seconds before going close to failure again. I might get 8 reps on the first set, but only 1-3 on the following sets. After I finish up the 7 minutes I rest 5 minutes before going to the next movement pattern.
Something to note: my current chosen exercises are based on my fitness level. For your squat movement you should start with the traditional bodyweight squat and build up to stronger variants overtime. Same goes for chin ups, you might not be strong enough to do chin ups just yet so I’d either recommend using bands for assistance or you can load up a suitcase and simulate a dumbbell row off of the floor.
You may also notice that I use a pull up bar. Well, you can either buy a portable pull up frame like this one, install a pull up bar in your home like this one, or you can go to a park.
Those 3 movement patterns are a foundation which cannot be replaced but you can add accessory movements for smaller muscles too such as calve raises or diamond push ups as long as you can still recover. Do these after your foundational movements.
If these movements stop challenging you, you can either get people to sit on your back to add additional overload or you can switch to a harder variant. I mentioned one way of doing this earlier, which was switching to single limb variants such as a pistol squat or a one armed push up. Another method is adding a jump to the movement (jumping pistol squats are deadly) adding an incline (I’m currently training the handstand push up) or adding a deeper stretch (chest dips, deeper squats)
So here’s progression examples:
>If you can get 100 reps of deep squats, next time try and get 10 pistol squats
>If you can do 100 push ups, next time try and get one armed push ups
>If you can do 100 one armed push ups, next time try a handstand push up
>If you can do 100 chin ups, next time try a one armed chin up.
Keep adding reps and keep progressing to harder and harder variants to ensure progress. I do this workout every time I don’t have access to a gym which is usually when I’m travelling, at a convention, or I just get too carried away with work and I lose track of time! I don’t think that this workout or bodyweight training in general can ever truly replace weight training but I do think it has it’s place. And besides, gymnasts are pretty damn jacked and can do some really impressive things. That’s proof enough that these methods work as long as there is consistent progression.
So go, get out there and get your squat to a pistol squat and your push up to a one armed push up.
Be More Shonen my friends <3
Cosplay: Son Goku (DragonBall Z)