Not too long ago, I got a message from guy named Ian with a couple of questions and nice compliments about this blog. His two, principal questions were how I started doing BW strength training and if there was a sport that required Bodyweight training. I was going to PM him but I'm short on blog ideas at the moment and I thought that this would be a good time to touch on the genesis of my training.
Ever since I was a spindly teenager, I've always liked doing push-ups and chin-ups, particularly the latter. I never took the time to do a regimented workout devoted to BW-based strength training. I was just doing pulls, chins, and push-ups on a whim. At one point, I got a gym membership from my parents, started taking some weight gaining supplements, and worked out on the machines at the gym. This didn't last much longer than 8 months and I stopped going after I got a full-time job.
I was very active with sports during my middle school years. I played soccer in the fall and in the spring I did lacrosse and baseball simultaneously. This tapered off to no sports at all throughout high school. Strength training and sports never seemed to intersect during my teenage years.
Things converged back in 2001 when I decided to take up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It didn't take me long to realize that the better conditioned that I was, the harder I could train. It also helped compensate for my lack of technical skill. One thing that all of my interests have in common is that I buy magazines about them. BJJ was no different and I couldn't get past the full-page ads for "Combat Conditioning" without checking it out. In the summer of 2003, that's exactly what I did.
Now, I don't think that it was the greatest book on BW conditioning ever but It definitely got me started and I got results pretty quickly. One thing that I appreciated about the book was the bluntness of it. It formed a hard-nosed, hard-core attitude about training that I have to this day. To me, a day without conditioning feels like a day without a shower: just not complete.
Has it helped with my BJJ? I'll never forget the day that I was complaining about lower back pain in class due to work. My BJJ instructor suggested that I lay off the weight training. I told him that I didn't lift weights. I can still hear his stunned response. "YOU DON'T LIFT WEIGHTS????" In my school, I've always surprised people with my strength level. One of my best friends from school, a 6'3 and 230 lbs man, told me that at 175 lbs, I'm just as strong as any 220 lbs man he's ever rolled with. Under the normal run of things, I roll with someone my own size. Since I mostly strength train with my own weight, I'm very comfortable moving someone close to my own weight several times. That's the foundation of my strength training.
It's worked out well, no matter where I am or how much time I have on my hands. For the best combination of practicality and results, I just don't think that you can beat a good BW-based strength training regimen.