Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Lesser-known Advantages of Bodyweight Training

If readers have been stopping by and been a bit disappointed by the lack of purity in the content of my bodyweight-based blog since I jumped into the deep end of the strongman pool, I'd advise you to buy a gallon of distilled water...and shove it. 

Okay, maybe there is a bit of a point there.  I don't do a full-blown bodyweight blog any more than I train BW-only.  As I've branched out I still don't forget my roots.  Those have to be into some grounds of practicality and a strength trainer can't get any more practical than a BW training. 
This blog has always been about acknowledging that training has to mold around the rest of your life.  Getting strong can only encroach on your job, family, sleep and porn time so much. 

So, BW has a lot of advantages dealing with the pragmatism to any strength trainer.  The question is what are those advantages?  I do have three in mind that you may not realize. I'll start out with  performance-oriented one, moving to the less obvious, life molding shit. 

Need mid-section strength? You need BW
Filed under things I wished I'd saved a link to years ago was a video or picture of Derek Poundstone doing ab wheel rollouts (on his knees) .  While those athletes will likely make mountains out of mole hills debating the usefulness of direct ab work, those who agree you need some ab work will probably end up doing something BW-oriented. 

Why that is so is actually pretty simple:  the best ab work is BW stuff.  Even better is that pretty much the solid majority of all basic BW movements demand some sort of strong abdominal activation to complete.   If reach down into the toilet bowl that is T-Nation and can stomach pulling out a Bret Contreras article, he did an interesting test on abdominal activation during popular ab exercises.  The ab wheel and pull-ups topped the list. 

Never one to back away from sounding like an expert that I'm not (all while never being shy about admitting that I'm not),  I think that a large part of the reason why BW ab exercises are so fucking good for strength is that they're all largely about contracting the abs to hold the back in place during execution.  That simple cue is the basis of using abs in just about every, single lift done. 

Bodyweight is the most House Friendly Strength Training
Not too long ago, I crossed going to Iron Sport Gym off my bucket list of places that I wished to go in the USA.  This place exceeded all of my lofty expectations of how awesome it would be with its stunningly low quantity of cardio equipment, squat cages that filled up before the few token pieces of cardio equipment, and the crotchety owner Steve Pulcinella.  It's simply about as perfect of a set-up place as I'd expect any real strength sports-oriented gym to be, complete with the ability, even the expectation I daresay, of moving huge ass weights while making grunting noises and dropping shit like a fucking boss, if needs be. 

That's how a gym should be.  That's not the rest of the world.  The rest of the world, such as your home, probably expects a bit more courtesy with the noise you make, the equipment you use, and where you use it.  Few things rile a wife up more than dropping an axle loaded with plates on the basement floor, shaking the walls a bit, and making the toddler asleep above wake up abruptly. 

For this reason, bodyweight is ideal.  Since your weight is your body, it doesn't need to be loaded onto anything and it's not like you're going to drop it on the floor.  A body doesn't have a distinct metallic clank every time its used either.  This makes it well-suited for training in places where you kind of have to accommodate the peace and quiet of other people. 

Bodyweight is More Time Efficient
Since my training became mostly weights, I'm constantly plagued with the sense that I'm just not getting very much at all done.  The more you need to change weights and equipment, the longer the whole training process takes.  Strongman is even worse.  Most strongman gyms have an event day on a weekend, largely because it's such a pain in the ass to drag out so much equipment and train.  The process goes quicker when there's a few more hands on deck. 

That's the elegance of training without weights or equipment.  With no weight and equipment changes, a lot more volume can be packed into a shorter time period.  Lots of strength training deals with the notion of building a strong base.  A fundamental of that initial base strength is the capability to do a lot of work.  I can't really find a better way to get that injecting a healthy dose of bodyweight.  One of my favorite BW routines involved a simple superset of pull-ups and handstand push-ups.  I managed to put well over 100 of each in 40 minutes.  

So, if this recently-rare entry into my blog hopefully imparts on you as you push away from you keyboard is that despite the world full of toys to get strong with, the places you have to do them, and the ways that you can use them, BW has some intensely pragmatic and useful benefits that even a n00b strongman like myself can still appreciate. 

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