Getting Lean, Strong & Muscular with Bodyweight Training

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What if I were to tell you that you could build an incredibly lean, strong and chiseled physique with only your body as a tool. Think about that for a second. There would be no need for an expensive gym membership and no need for bulky home gym equipment. Imagine the possibilities, imagine the freedom.

You’re traveling, you’re stuck at the office, the gym is closed, you don’t have time to commute….. All the typical excuses just don’t apply anymore. You could do a month long trip and you wouldn’t have to worry about losing strength or muscle. You are the gym and you can always get a workout in. This is just one of the many benefits of bodyweight training and trust me when I tell you there are many more.

Is Getting Lean Actually Easier With Bodyweight Training?

To become proficient at bodyweight training you need to be very lean! The less fat you have on your body the more proficient you will be. I have always found that bodyweight training makes it quite easier to lean down. This is because dieting and bodyweight training complement each other. Getting leaner and losing fat improves your bodyweight training performance. On the other hand dropping weight tends to decrease weight training performance. It can be frustrating to see your weights go down as you get leaner and subconsciously you may blow your diet to try and maintain your lifts. Whereas with a bodyweight training routine you know damn well if you keep the cals low you will have an easier time moving your bodyweight through space. Even a 3 or 4 lbs drop in weight tends to improve bodyweight performance noticeably.

You Can Get More Muscle Recruitment

Bodyweight exercises are all closed chain movements. This is where your hands are fixed to an object and your body moves through space. Conversely in weight training exercises your hands are free moving. Closed chain movements recruit more muscle fibers then open chain exercises. This leads to greater strength and muscle gains. This is the reason why chin ups will always build more strength and muscle then lat pull downs. Why full range hand stand push ups will build more strength and muscle then shoulder presses.

You Can Keep An Injury Free, Limber Body

Continued use of weight training movements can aggravate the joints, especially the shoulders. Every time I start moving my weight up on the bench and incline presses my shoulders start to give me problems. This is the case even when using perfect technique, a proper warm up and rotator cuff exercises. As soon as I make the switch to bodyweight exercises my joints feel like a million bucks! I think this goes back to closed chain exercises and how they’re better for the joints than open chain exercises. After a few weeks of a strict bodyweight training routine you will feel incredible. Limber, athletic and injury proof.

You Can Quickly Build Incredible Core Strength

Chin ups, one arm push ups, pistols, bridging and front levers require a tremendous amount of core strength and stability. Continued use of these exercises will build an incredibly strong, dense and chiseled set of abs. In fact you can build perfectly developed abs without the need for direct abdominal work.

You Can Turn Heads At The Gym

Train with bodyweight movements for several months and you will progress to some of the most advanced variations of each movement. People will stop what they are doing at the gym to admire you. You see in today’s world 300+ benchers and 500+ deadlifters are not uncommon. What is a total rarity is to see someone who has completely mastered their bodyweight.

When was the last time you’ve ever witnessed someone at the gym do a chin up with only the use of one arm? Or how about hang from a pull up bar and keeping their entire body and arms straight lift themselves up until their body was parallel to the ground? I’m going to go out on a limb here and probably say never.

Bodyweight training just looks DAMN COOL! Most people can’t relate to bench, squat and deadlift numbers. I remember when I told my brother I bench pressed 315 lbs one day and he asked me if that was supposed to be good. Seriously. On the other hand almost everyone can fathom the strength it requires to do push ups and chin ups with one arm.

Wondering What The Kinobody Bodyweight Exercises Are?

There are six movements that make up the foundation of my bodyweight training program. Each movement has a series of progressions to make the exercise easier or harder depending on your skill level. These are pretty much the same 6 movements as showcased in the book Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade. I complement Wade on selecting the most effective bodyweight workouts and movements known to man. Where my routine differs from Wade’s is the exercise progressions, exercise technique and workouts. This is where I feel Wade dropped the ball. The movements are:

1) Push ups

2) Chin ups

3) Handstand Push ups

4) Pistols (one legged squats)

5) Back Bridging

6) Hanging Leg Raises or Front Levers

Here is how I would group these movements into a weekly workout program.

Workout A – Pushing and Bridging

Push ups: 3 sets x 3-8 reps

Handstand Push ups: 3 sets x 3-8 reps

Bridging: 3 sets x 30-60 second hold

Workout B – Pulling, Core, Legs

Chin ups: 3 sets x 3-8 reps

Hanging Leg Raises or Front Levers: 3 sets x 3-8 reps

Pistols: 3 sets x 3-8 reps

Workout C – Full Body 

Handstand Push ups: 3 sets x 3-8 reps

Pull ups: 3 sets x 3-8 reps

Pistols: 3 sets x 3-8 reps

Push ups: 3 sets x 3-8 reps

Hanging Leg Raises: 3 sets x 3-8 reps

Bridging: 3 sets x 30-60 second hold

Workout Notes

For each exercise you will select the progression that suits your skill level. In the following articles I will detail the exact progressions I use for each movement so stay tuned.

Want More? Check Out My Next Article

–> Push up Progressions – Build up to 10 Perfect Feet Raised One Arm Push ups

Greg O'Gallagher

Greg O'Gallagher is the founder of Kinobody, a site dedicated to helping men and women achieve the lean, muscular, and aesthetic "Hollywood" physique. His fitness programs have helped hundreds of thousands of people transform their bodies and change their lives in the process.

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