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!


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

3 sets

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.


Sets 3

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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