Saturday, June 6, 2009

Do what you need to do

When I write blogs, I like hearing feedback from those who read my work. It lets me know what people are doing, what they like or dislike, what they they think, what is useful and what they might need help with. I've put a lot of ideas about how to train and exercises to try, hoping that people will find some useful ideas. I've noticed that I frequently put out ideas for pretty advanced exercises. Actually, I'd say that well over half of the exercises that I've put forth as suggestions could be considered advanced BW strength training.

For years, I've read and heard suggestions that BW is too easy and lacking effective progressions. Once someone's mastered the exercise, the only perceived way to make it harder is do do more reps. By this point, the argument becomes that you're not getting stronger. You're only gaining more endurance. So, I've fielded ideas on how to make things harder and more intense without the added volume. I tend to shy away from some of the higher volume exercises too for practical reasons. As I've stated in the past, traveling has a way of limiting time to train. They go hand-in-hand and I like exercises that cut back on my training time. That way, I can get more done in less time.

Lately, my coorespondance with my readers seems to indicate that some of my ideas are too hard for many. I've answered several questions how to make exercises less taxing and seen several comments about making BW exercises easier. As far as I'm concerned, the best kind of training is the kind that gives you the right amount of challenge. What on earth good does it do to try an exercise that you can barely do effectively for one or two reps? If you need to make it a little easier by modifying the exercise, then that's completely fine. You're just reverse engineering what I did when I thought up the exercise to begin with.

In fact, if you're not doing that before you train, then I think that you need to start. One very good piece of advice that I can give you is to try an exercise before you commit to working out with it. Play with it and see what kind of a challenge that it gives you. Keep in mind that when you do it, you'll be doing several sets of these for multiple reps. If it's too hard, try the exercise a different way and see how it works for you.

For example, if you can barely do two push-ups because your chest feels too weak to push yourself off the floor, then grab yourself a couple milk crates (or something like that) and do the push-ups to the top of the the crates. If you can do 10-15 of these, then you're getting somewhere. As it gets easier, then drop them out of the exercise and try them from the floor. I've also blogged extensively in the past about how to make BW exercises harder. If you want, look up those articles and work backwards from them. Ultimately, it's your training and you should make it work best for you.

As always, if you want some help on making an exercise work for you, get in touch with me here, on my forum, or PM me at the forums that I post at. I'll do my best to help you out, Always!


Sol G - Chicago said...

I have aggravated my rotator cuff multiple times and frequently find it hard to do pull ups. What are alternatives to pull ups that i can do at home using my BW?

P.S. LOVE the blog, keep up the good work

Justin_PS said...

Hi Sol G,

Wow, you asked a tough one! What part of the pull-up aggravates your rotator cuff exactly? I do have a couple of ideas off the top of my head.

Pavel is really big on this one: when doing pull-ups and chin-ups, KEEP YOUR SHOULDERS IN THE SOCKETS. In case you're not familiar with what I'm speaking of, I'll sum it up for you. Don't let your shoulders get closer to your ears than your arms.

Another thought would be to place a chair behind your bar just far enough so you can rest your feet on the chair in a kneeling-like position. When you pull up, you won't be lifting the weight of your legs from your knees-down. The higher the chair, the eaier the exercise gets.

If you want to buy gear, then you can buy some exercise bands and do chins or pulls with those.

The common suggestion from many is to suggest rowing exercises. They're certainly easier and a good exercise but they don't exercise the body like a pull or a chin will. I don't mean that in a bad way. It' just different.

Have you sought some help from a pro yet? I'd encourage you to do so. Bear in mind, I'm not an expert. I'm just a somewhat knowledgeable guy... ON THE INTERNET!

Good luck,