Help! I Can Barely Lift My Own Body Weight, How Do I Start?

August 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Bugs Workout Routines, The Fitness Bug

Build strength with bodyweight

When I first began to get serious about working out and improving my body strength, I was still a student. I wasn’t entirely broke like most students are, but paying for a gym membership would definitely sting my bank account every month. Even so, I didn’t let that stop me and I at least wanted to make a start.

My plan was to initially use my own body weight to increase my strength and size by doing the following,

  • Push-ups
  • Dips
  • Pull-ups
  • Squats
  • Lunges

After about a week of getting into the routine I realised that I had one slight problem.

I could barely lift my own body weight!

I WAS WEAK!

This was especially noticeable with pull-ups. I would do,

3 sets

Reps
1. 10
2. 5
3. 2
(To failure!!!)

In my view that was just simply pathetic strength endurance for a young and generally fit guy, almost embarrassing. Not to mention that these were ordinary pull-ups too, no wide/ close grip, which is where most people initially struggle.

With that said, things did improve over time, but that was with the assistance of weight training.

The key thing to take home here is that using your own body weight for exercising (Functional training) is still the no.1 method for increasing your strength, balance, flexibility, and natural muscle development. Below I’ll outlay some methods of how this can be done.

Green fitness Exercises

Before you even decide to start increasing your strength from doing bodyweight exercises, you may want to start doing these first, especially if you are as weak as I was. This would include taking up activities such as sprinting, riding, climbing, hiking or yoga. All of these activates will improve your functional strength, strength that you would use performing real world activities.

Start with the basics

Once you have a routine in place, then you may begin to consider starting to use your own body weight to increase strength. Earlier I mentioned that I started with,

  • Push-ups
  • Dips
  • Pull-ups
  • Squats
  • Lunges

These are a great set of body weight exercises to start with. I would recommend that you structure your sets ‘To failure’. Which means that you push your self until you can push no more.

Example

Sets 3

Reps
1. 10
2. 8
3. 6

Everyone’s strength levels will be different, so change your sets to suit.

Advance to this

Once you have become quite competent in those exercises, get yourself a dipping belt for your pull up exercises, this will allow you to add weights to your body to increase the difficulty of the exercise. Then add these into the mix,

  • One-arm push-ups
  • One-legged squats
  • Handstand push-ups
  • Headstand leg raise
  • Mahler Body Blaster
  • Knee Jump

All of these exercises can be quite challenging, so I wouldn’t recommend jumping straight into them unless you know that you will be competent at doing them.  If you do then here is a routine to follow,

  • Handstand Push-ups – 5-10 Reps
  • One-Arm Push-up – 5-10 Reps
  • One Legged Squat – 5-10 Reps
  • Knee Jump – 5-10 Reps
  • Headstand Leg Raise – 5-10 Reps
  • Mahler Body Blaster – Work up to 25-50 Reps

If you really want to test your strength and you think you are an expert, try out the exercises in the videos below. If you do manage to perform all of these exercises with no trouble at all, then you must post a link in the comment sections of you doing so. If you do, I will be very impressed. Not even I could do some of these, and I’m quite an animal when it’s time to ANTE UP!

To conclude

Lifting weights will always be a superior way to increase strength and in quick succession. But if you’re a beginner, just want to be strong and have a naturally toned body, then this would be the way to go.

What are your experiences with body weight training?

See you in the comments.

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Athletic Body Building: Why Your Training Doesn’t Result In An Athletic Body

July 27, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Build an Athletic BodyOk, so not everyone out there wants to be a muscle bound tough guy with a ‘hard man’ image. Most exercisers want the strong, lean body of an athlete. But sadly most of the workout programs out there are bodybuilding workouts and will never work. Luckily, a lot of trainers have learned that to look like an athlete you need to train like one.

You Are Still Training Like A Bodybuilder

Whether you know it or not, most workout programs are based on bodybuilding type training. If you can rattle off muscles, talk about split workout routines and think your training should only be about building muscle… you have a bodybuilder mentality. If you base your workout program on a bodybuilding program, you probably will fail to reach your athletic body goals.

First, most bodybuilding workouts only concerned with maximizing muscle growth are very long. And unless you have 2-3 hours to spend in the gym every day, you are not going to get the muscle building results like the pro bodybuilders do. And some of you might be thinking that since you are going to do a “similar” workout, but shorter, then you’ll get the “athletic” muscle you want and not the puffed up bodybuilder look. How has that thinking been working out for you so far?

Second, to build an athletic body you need to train more like an athlete, and less like a bodybuilder. Athletes look the way they do because they are fit. So, you need to train to increase your overall fitness level. Plus, you need a nice balance between strong, athletic muscle and low fat. So, you need to build strength and size and lose those performance robbing pounds of fat.

You Need Multiple Workouts To Get The Athletic Body

I wish I could tell you there was one workout that could satisfy every goal. But the truth is, some people need more work in one area than others. For example, some people have a low level of fitness and need to work on that before they can be concerned about building muscle or losing fat. They just don’t have the physical capabilities to get through those type of workouts.

On the other hand, some people are fit and lean, but need to put on muscle (Myself). Or, they put on muscle easily, but need to shed a few pounds of fat to look more like an athlete. But no matter how you look at it… you need to address fitness, fat loss and muscle building at some point to ultimately achieve the athletic look you desire.

You need to rotate between three different kinds of workout with different major goals… Fitness, Fat Loss and Strength & Size. Each of these workouts should be slanted to the specific goal of the workout, but not work against the other goals. For example, when you are doing the fitness workout you could put on muscle and burn fat. When fat loss is your goal you should be burning fat in a way that also increases fitness and builds (or keeps), useful muscle. Same for the strength and size workouts.

So, the key to getting the athletic body you want is to change the way you think about working out. Stop training like a bodybuilder if you don’t want to be one, and start training like an athlete if you want to look like one. Use a variety of workouts designed to build the athletic body you seek, without sabotaging the other performance and appearance goals. I think you find that by approaching your workouts this way… you’ll build the strong, lean, athletically muscular body that not only performs great, but turns heads as well.

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