Personal fitness is all about progression.
It’s all about taking the person you were and working hard to transform into what you want to become.
The key to doing this is simple – in order to keep progressing towards a goal you HAVE to continually progress WHAT you are doing!
If you’re running you run further/faster. If you’re weight lifting you pick up heavier weights or do more reps. It’s this progression that makes the difference in how far you can push your results.
But what if the majority of your exercise routines comes from BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES? You can’t always “add more weight” to air squats and it’s hard to “increase the resistance” on your push ups.
That is – until today!
Today I wanted to share with you three awesome tips that are guaranteed to make ANY bodyweight exercise harder. Take these principles into any bodyweight workout and see how far you can take your results!
The number one underlying theme to each of these progressions is you have to do something DIFFERENT than you’ve been doing. The three simplest ways to achieve this are 1) change the speed, 2) change the range of motion, and 3) change the surface upon which you perform the exercise.
1. CHANGE THE SPEED – varying your speed is a great way to make your bodyweight exercise harder. You can either increase or decrease the rate at which you perform your exercises to throw a whole new feel at them.
A. INCREASE SPEED – performing bodyweight exercises faster engages fast-twitch muscle fibers at a quicker rate. The exercise becomes what we would call “plyometric” as your feet/hands leave whatever surface they were originally contacting and the motion becomes “ballistic”. This is my personal favorite way to take your bodyweight gains to the next level.
B. DECREASE SPEED – performing bodyweight exercises at a slower speed does just the opposite – this engages our body’s slow-twitch muscle fibers as you emphasize control and timing. This is also a great way to incorporate “eccentrics” into your workout. That means your muscles are slowly lengthening against a resisted load. Eccentrics are a phenomenal way to take your bodyweight exercise to the next level.
2. CHANGE THE RANGE OF MOTION – in general, I always advocate doing your exercises through full range of motion to ensure maximum muscle contraction.
But when that becomes the “norm” and you need something a little extra to break out of it I like to recommend “pause squats” to clients. This is where you go all the way down in a rep, come back up only halfway, pause, return to the bottom of the rep, and then come all the way up.
If you can get through 3 sets of 10 regular reps pretty easy I challenge you to try 3 sets of 10 pause reps instead. This is a great way to progress your exercises and really take your results to that next level.
3. CHANGE THE SURFACE/STABILITY – For the most part, bodyweight exercises are performed on a flat, firm surface.
One great way to progress these exercises is to do something that compromises this surface.
For example – put one of your feet up on a step and perform your air squats (feet will be at different heights). Try doing your pushups this same way. Or for an even greater challenge try to do your pushups with your hands on a BOSU ball or one hand on a medicine ball.
Adding instability or variation to the surface upon which you’re performing the exercise confuses your muscles and makes them work harder – thereby providing you greater return on your exercise time.
If you feel like you’ve stalled out in your progression and are looking for ways to get your progress back on track to accomplish your goals I know these tips can help. The to continual progression is to keep progressing!
Try out these three tips during your next bodyweight workout to take your results to a whole new level!
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