Contrary to popular belief, body weight training can be used to gain size and strength. Gymnasts, for example, use it as a staple of their programs; and you can’t argue that the gymnast in the picture below doesn’t have some impressive shoulders and arms:
However, knee push-ups and bodyweight squats aren’t going to cut it if gaining muscle is your goal; to add real mass with bodyweight training alone, you’ll have to use some advanced movements. Here are three drills to add right away to your body weight strength training routine:
Open a door halfway and place a towel over the top. Place your hands on the towel and let yourself hang off the door.
Pull yourself up by leveraging your body weight against the door until your chin is over the top. Your elbows will be pressing against the door throughout the drill. Lower yourself slowly back to the starting position and repeat for reps.
This advanced push-up variation is great for building upper body strength, stability in the shoulders, and a rock-solid core.
Place one arm behind your back and lower yourself to the floor with the other arm. Abs should be braced hard and your feet should be in a wide stance for added stability. Touch your chest to the floor and press yourself back up.
(The Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline is a great resource on bodyweight training, by the way, and it uses the one arm push-up as one of its main bodyweight strength training drills.)
Start the pistol standing on one leg. Dropping your hips back behind you, squat down to a full squat position and stand back up using the same leg.
The pistol squat is a very tricky exercise to master; for an article that goes into great detail about how to perform the pistol squat, click the following link:
Many folks question the efficacy of body weight strength training; however, using advanced body weight moves such as the door pull up, the one arm push-up, and the pistol squat, one can gain size and strength.
*Also important to note is that this short article should just be an introduction to these advanced moves; they’re all tricky to master, and I encourage you to learn further and hone your technique before incorporating them into your workout programming at full speed.*
Train hard and good luck!
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