Wednesday, May 21, 2008

T-Nation and Bodyweight Training

I thought I might have found a rare gem at T-Nation’s web site not too long ago when I came across an article entitled, “The Importance of Bodyweight Training”. It turned out to be a disappointment. It seems like others agreed. It has a two star rating at the top of the page. Rather than admitting that Bodyweight can stand alone as a legitimate strength training tool, it had fish-nor-fowl statements like this gem:

The truth is, most of us started out with bodyweight training when we were younger. As we improved, we naturally evolved to weight training for more of a challenge. At the time, weight training offered you a greater stimulus, and therefore a greater payoff.
Also, weight training gave you something to progress towards... lifting more weight. After all, you can only do so many push-ups before you get bored
I think that's the main problem with traditional, old-style bodyweight training. You had nothing to progress towards. Once you could do X number of reps, you just kept repeating that every workout

To me, this is a symptom of a larger problem in the strength training world: There isn’t any desire to try and make bodyweight work. There’s more to bodyweight training than just the pushups, pull-ups, and the sit-ups. The push-up is not an exercise but a family of exercises. I took three articles just to describe the variations on the standard pushup. I didn’t even get into the other pushups such as the superman, reverse, handstand, Hindu, dive-bomber, and pike pushups. These range from high volume to high intensity, depending on what you like to do.

The lack of desire to make bodyweight conditioning continues on in the article:

Rule #2:
"Bodyweight" doesn't mean that you can't add additional weight for resistance. You can, and probably should, once you reach your desired rep range. Weighted vests and dip belts come in handy for this

Technically, yes it does mean that you can’t add additional weight. If you add more weight other than your own body, then it’s a weighted exercise. There’s a deeper problem in this statement though: the idea that the only way to progress is adding weight. This is where the strength training world went wrong. There are other ways to improve strength without adding weight. This is where bodyweight gets parts of its effectiveness. You can manipulate weight distribution, range of motion, and decrease the leverage that your body has. They all make the exercise more difficult.

I think articles like this signal some cracks in the supremacy of weight training as the one and only strength training tool. Many weight-based strength-training coaches are starting to espouse the value of bodyweight exercises in strength training. It’s a way of keeping weights relevant. I’m not saying that the tide has turned in Bodyweight’s favor. Things like that take time. It’s only a matter of time before bodyweight takes it’s place next to weights as a legitimate training tool.

Read the Article Here:


H Raja said...

Good article and nice website!! I've switched away from the equipment and found the challenges and rewards of exercises you can do anywhere.

Justin_PS said...

Thank you, raja! The fact that you can do BW anywhere is the single biggest reason that I'm so passionate about it. Right now, I'm hours away from home in a motel with no weight-equipped gym in sight. I refuse to believe that I can't get strong without weights. I'm glad that you do the same.

I hope you enjoy my sight and find some useful information.

Best wishes,