BODY WEIGHT STRENGTH TRAINING
As the name implies, body weight strength training is a form of strength conditioning focused on building strength solely with the use of body weight exercises. In terms of strength training we generally think along the lines of building absolute strength, which is the maximum force that an individual’s muscle can produce against an external resistance (i.e. dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, etc.). While this is an important component to building strength, it is only one piece of the puzzle. Most sports and functional activities require higher levels of relative strength more than anything. Specifically, relative strength is the maximum force that an individual can generate per unit of body weight. This style of strength requires the exerciser to control their body weight against gravity as opposed to “lifting” an object. Think of sports like wrestling, rock climbing, hiking, running, biking, martial arts, and gymnastics. All of these activities require high levels of relative strength. Being able to lift massive amounts of weight doesn’t carry over into the activity as effectively as the use of body weight exercises.
Some examples of body weight exercises include:
· Single Leg Squats
· Pistol Squats
· Floor Bridges
· Back Extension
· Rope Climb
· Box Jumps
· Split Jumps
Of course, experienced exercises will get to the point to where their muscles are no longer overloaded enough for continued results. That’s where the use of fitness devices like weight vests, gymnastics rings, TRX suspension trainers, and balance boards come in. Any of them are very effective increasing the “relative” load in a progressive manner as strength and endurance levels increase. Other effective ways to add challenge is by simply slowing the tempo. Performing pushups with a 3 second descend and 2 second pause at the bottom is an entirely different animal than simply banging out reps. Don’t believe me? Try it…I dare you! The same approach can be used with other exercises like single leg squats, lunges, etc.
So next time you’re ready to hit it hard with a strength workout, I challenge you to stay away from the weights and try a 5-6 exercise circuit with the sample exercises listed above. Or even better…here is sample of one of my favorite Body Weight Strength Circuits.
Reps: 20-16-12 reps (Descending each set)
Rest: 30-60 sec between exercises/1-2 minutes between sets
2. BOSU Up and Overs
3. Ring Flys
4. TRX Hamstring Curl to Hip Press
5. Single Arm Rope Pull
6. Stability Ball Prone Overhead Press