The Six Best Bodyweight Movements for Developing a Great Physique

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In the last article on bodyweight training, we looked at six massive and profound benefits to bodyweight training.

Well, in this post, I want to look at the most effective bodyweight movements to build a great physique and awesome strength.

First things first, my formula for building a jaw dropping physique is, well, quite simple:

It’s about hitting certain strength levels.

There’s simply no way to achieve an amazing level of strength (proportionate to your weight) without achieving a great body in the process.

Too many people get so focused on hitting their muscles from different angles, feeling the pump and following some ridiculous diet that has them eating 5,000 calories per day…

Yet, they are dumbfounded why their physique never shapes into the chiseled and muscular body they want. The reason is simple..

Muscle is a byproduct of strength! You must get stronger to build the muscle density that you want! And of course, to ensure you are lean and aesthetic, you must focus on relative strength (building strength while keeping body fat to a minimum).

This is what makes bodyweight training such a powerful indicator of your aesthetics. The better you are at bodyweight training, the better you will look.

After all, bodyweight training is a test of relative strength… Progress on bodyweight training and your physique will improve in leaps and bounds.

Now without further sidetracking… Let’s get down to brass tax!

Exercise #1: Push-ups & Push-up Variations

The most well known bodyweight exercise is the push-up – and for good reason! It’s a great exercise to build pressing strength and to increase muscle on your chest and triceps (and front delts to some extent).

Push-ups will also increase core strength. This is increasingly true if you work your way up to one-arm push-ups. Eventually, you want to progress to push-ups with your feet elevated on a bench or chair.

Doing push-ups with your feet elevated will not only make the exercise harder, it will also increase the tension placed on the upper pecs. This is great because well-developed upper pecs are one of the greatest signs of an aesthetic physique.

It gives your chest that square, powerful, “masculine” look. The highest level of strength is to perform one arm push ups with your feet elevated on a chair. If you can work your way up to this exercise for 5 solid reps… You will have a word class upper body and core.

Exercise #2: Pike Push-ups & Handstand Push-ups

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Handstand push ups are killer for building great shoulders… The key is to work up to doing them with a full range of motion, by putting your hands on blocks, or bars… If you want to make it more challenging, I suggest pausing for a second at the bottom. If you can build up to 10 full reps, with a pause at the bottom, your shoulders will rival that of a god… I know some people asked about doing them free standing without the wall… "Sorry, Maury, I'm not a gymnast" Haha! But to me that's missing the point completely. My approach is about building a great physique with lots of strength. And doing so with maximum efficiency. Dedicating a lot of time to hand balancing, does not improve either of those. If you really want to build great shoulders, you want to focus hard on tension. Not on balancing. And very few people will be able to consistently take themselves close to failure from a free stand. This makes it a heck of a lot harder to trigger muscle growth!! If you're ready to join the bodyweight mastery program.. Head on over to kinobody.com/bmp (Link in my bio)… We already have hundreds of members in the exclusive fb group, kicking it hard!! Ps. Film credit to @slightlyhuman #kinobody

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Push-ups aren’t enough to build a great upper body – we also need to work on vertical presses.

This will help support well-developed and rounded shoulders.

Great shoulder development is a key sign of a great physique! In this “bench press crazed” fitness world, there’s no shortage of guys with big, bulky pecs. But strong, powerful shoulders are a rarity in this world…

And great shoulder development exudes masculinity and power! The key to building great shoulders is to get very strong on overhead presses.

One way to accomplish this goal is by doing shoulder presses with weights. Another way is to build your way up to handstand push-ups against a wall… But here’s the kicker: place your hands on blocks or parallel bars. This will allow you to get the full range of motion.

If you can build up to 10 full-range handstand push-ups against the wall, you will have some seriously strong and round shoulders!

Exercise #3 Chin-ups and (Advanced Variations)

One of the most functional movements known to man is to hang from a bar and lift your chin up over the bar! This exercise will increase strength throughout your upper back and biceps.

In fact, the best way to build a solid back and V-shaped torso is to become a beast on the bar. When pull-ups and muscle-ups are a piece of cake, your back and biceps will be dangerously strong!

You’ll also have great shoulder width. The shoulder-to-waist ratio in men is the most powerful physical sign of attraction, and pull-ups support broad shoulders beautifully.

This is because the bigger and stronger your upper back is, the wider your torso will be. Once you’re proficient on chin-ups and pull-ups, you’ll be working your way up to one-arm chin-ups and muscle-ups. These are the movements that will take your physique to a whole other level!

Exercise #4: Pistol Squats (And Pistol Progressions)

It’s no mystery that the most basic and effective leg exercise is the squat. It involves all the major muscles in the lower body. When we’re working with our own bodyweight, the logical step is to advance to doing a full squat on one leg.

This exercise is called a pistol squat – the reason being that the bottom position resembles a pistol. The advantage of pistol squats over traditional barbell squats is that the lower back isn’t a limiting factor.

What’s more, pistol squats will increase balance, coordination and flexibility. When you can explode up on your pistol squats with ease, you will have a serious set of legs – legs that will allow you to sprint fast and jump high!

Legs that will make you an athletic beast! I believe everyone should work up to being able to do 5 pistols on each leg. The next step from there is speed pistols. This is where you focus on standing up as fast as possible.

If you want to take it even further, you can do pistol jump squats. For this exercise, you want to explode up from the bottom of the exercise into a powerful jump. You can imagine the tremendous power this exercise will develop.

Exercise #5: Hanging Leg Raises and Front Lever Pulls

What would a bodyweight course be without an emphasis on specific core training?

Now, when it comes to the core, there’s no need for a dozen abdominal exercises. Simplicity is best! The hanging leg raise exercises are hands-down the best abs exercises you can perform. You’ll build incredible core strength without causing back pain or stress.

When full-range hanging leg raises are no longer a challenge, the next step is to work towards performing front lever pulls. Not only does this exercise look freaking badass, it will build the abs of a world-class gymnast.

That, and you’ll develop some incredibly strong lats! I have developed some seriously etched-out abs, yet I hardly do ANY direct abs training.

Usually I just work in a few sets of front lever pulls and L-sit holds into my training – and that’s it! For example, check out the picture below (ignore the half naked model, lol):

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Exercise #6: L-Sits & Back Bridges

Two exercises that have delivered for me massively are the L-sit and back bridge. Not only do these exercises support incredible core strength, but they build a very valuable type of flexibility.

They build flexibility during tension. These exercises will absolutely injury-proof your body. Implementing back bridges and L-sits into your routine will turn you into an athletic badass.

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This is one of the moves from my Cardio, Abs & Mobility course… The L sit builds a very strong and well developed core while promoting flexibility throughout the hamstrings, and low back… It's also great for injury proofing the body ! Three sets of 10 second holds is sufficient. Though, eventually you can build up to 3 sets of 20 seconds (or even hold your legs up in a V shape) Most people have no idea about the program. It's only available for people following one of my full blown courses. To find out the best program for you, hit the link in my bio (kinobody.com/survey) and take the physique survey! Or if you just want to maximize fat loss (while maintaining muscle), go with aggressive fat loss (kinobody.com/afl) #kinobody #abs #core #mobility #santamonica #lsit #gymnastics #training #la

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In the Bodyweight Mastery Program, I recommend you finish ALL the workouts with some L-sits and back bridges. If you have had back pain or shoulder pain, get ready to say goodbye once and for all!

You see, you can have all the strength in the world… But if you have a bad back or nagging shoulders, what’s the point? All that strength and size is useless. It’s important to be highly limber, functional and resistant.

Do You Want To Master These Bodyweight Movements?

Cover-FinalBodyweight training is something everyone should work into their regime for many reasons already covered.

I personally incorporate bodyweight training into everything I do – and some months it’s ALL I do. Best of all, working up to the advanced variations on bodyweight movements will also help bring up your lifts in the gym as well.

If you want to start incorporating bodyweight training into your routine, then I highly recommend checking out my brand-new Kinobody program, the Bodyweight Mastery Program.

Simply put, it’s the best and most effective bodyweight program on the planet – because, well, it actually works. Not only does it give you proven strategies that allow you to build up to the most advanced bodyweight movements known to man…

But it also accommodates ANY level you’re currently at, meaning there’s a place for you to start even if you can’t do a single pull-up.

Anyway, if you think this is something you’d like to check out, then click here to learn more about it!

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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