Within the fitness food chain there's a source of many levels of different styles and forms in exercise and workouts. Some people do the cardio machines, lift weights, go to aerobics class, do those weird ass kangaroo bounces with those shoe springs and there are forms of fitness that are not normally associated with the gym. Within bodyweight exercises a lot of people see that as toe touches, jumping jacks, military push-ups, basic squats, planks, burpees or whatever and you see these in the gym every now and then but the key to remember is that bodyweight training within the right system are extremely important for any workout routine. If you take a look back in history say 100 or more years ago; Barbells and Dumbbells were in the early stages of the major weightlifting world but the main type of training these old-timers used were Bodyweight exercises and why is that?
In another lifetime, using one's own bodyweight was a main source of health, strength, conditioning, flexibility and even looking the part. The reason why was because back then, gyms weren't as mainstream as they are today and if any young man or woman who weren't doing farm work, working in the coal mines or oil rigs hell even the railroad or skyscraping in the big cities they couldn't always afford a weight set so they had to learn to use their bodyweight in great many ways. Training in this manner teaches how to master your body from all sorts of angles the body is able to manage or develop. Think about it; if you mastered lifting your own weight that's a great amount of strength to withstand even in the most basic positions. There a lot of programs out there today that do work but very few teach how to go to a level of physical strength that is beyond the basic components. You do need a foundation and progress to a different level otherwise how will you achieve a higher status of mastery. Mastering the basic exercises doesn't mean how many reps and sets you can do and although that's awesome what more can you do; how about changing the tempo, speed, holding and slowing down the movement. Say you can do 250 push-ups in a single workout or within a few sets of up to 25-50 reps at a time, great now how about you change things up a bit like doing them on your fingertips or getting in the push-up position and go down for a ten count and up a ten count. You are taking a basic exercise and using the body on a whole other level that is not just using external formalities but building an internal strengthener.
I'm all for pushing the body to its maximum capabilities, it's a test of your mettle of how the body is taken to a higher level however; with that being said I also believe in testing the body in doing exercises that are a little out of the norm and building that relaxed strength and moving at a much slower pace or holding a certain position that is difficult. It's creating that internal power that you don't always get from just a regular routine. Holding certain postures or creating dynamic resistance to get that heart rate up in another way. Its power beyond the typical strength and endurance concepts you're used to seeing. I've done well over 500 push-ups in a workout and for nearly an hour I did over 1000 squats but yet I can also do the exercises in a much slower pace like doing 15 count push-ups and going so slow in the squat it not only gets me breathing more but it also creates a sensation in my body I can't experience any other way. I'm mastering my body in a different way that builds energy from within. The next time you hear that "Bodyweight exercise is only good for endurance" bullshit, have that person tested on that theory by having do exercises at a much slower pace or holding a posture for say like 3 minutes max; they won't be giving you a hard time and they'll either run away or won't have a clue what the hell hit them.
Are bodyweight exercises good for only smaller people like gymnasts? Fuck no, it doesn't matter what size you are, you can do bodyweight exercises. For big men, this is extremely important because if you master your body at a much larger size, you're doing something most can't even fathom. Say you want to do 10 pull-ups but you're a big guy say around 220 lbs. or more, is it possible? Of course it is as long as you understand the mechanics and how your body to weight ratio works in unison with the muscles needed to do that many pull-ups. I'm over 250 lbs. and I can do around 12 pull-ups if I chose to do so and that is exceptional for a man that size. If you are a big person and still want to do hard bodyweight exercises you can do them if you practice and learn how to use the muscles for that exercise. One of the greatest lifters of all-time Doug Hepburn was the first man to bench press over 500 lbs and was well over 260 lbs. but would you believe he was also an exceptional hand balancer? How about wrestler The Great Gama who was 5'7 and well over 250 lbs yet was capable of doing reps in the push-up and the squat in the hundreds, how about Bud Jeffries; at around 6'and 280 plus lbs. he can do push-ups that make smaller guys look like chumps from clap push-ups to one-arm and beyond. There are possibilities and don't think for a second that you can't achieve something because of your size. Make it work for you and don't try to surpass someone else, learn to surpass yourself and build strength that reaches your potential.
Have a kick ass Friday, have a wonderful weekend and be awesome.