After seeing everyone post their favorite bodyweight exercise in during the No Gym, No Problem Workout Program giveaway last week I got to thinking about some of my all time favorite bodyweight exercises. Putting this new program together had me gathering and sorting through all sorts of great bodyweight exercises (the final program will include almost 50 exercises) and while they are all awesome in their own way there are certainly a few that I really like.
So how about you? Can you pull these exercises off? If you can do at least one of them I have a challenge for you…
When you read my list keep a couple things in mind – first, while a lot of these exercises are pretty advanced I have spent a lot of time on the “easier” variations building my technique and body control. One of the most essential elements to bodyweight training is the principle of using exercise progressions, which means that you need to start with the basics and work up to the advanced level stuff. Too many times we see a super cool exercise and want to start with it, not realizing all of the work that went in to be able to get to that level in the first place. In fact, using exercise progressions is one of the centerpieces of the upcoming No Gym, No Problem Workout to help you create the best workout for your current strength and fitness levels.
Second, while these are some of my favorite bodyweight exercises I don’t do them all the time. Since they are pretty advanced and intense exercises my body would break down if I only did them. I like to mix it up with some easier variations from time to time to keep things fresh, both physically and mentally. Again, a big part of the upcoming No Gym, No Problem Workout Program will be teaching you how to cycle Hard and Moderate workouts so you give your body a chance to recover and the results to keep coming.
So, with that out of the way, on to my list …
1 – Uneven Push Ups: This push up variation has you place one hand on something to raise it up off the ground while the other hand remains in contact with the ground. You can use a medicine ball, kettlebell turned on its side or even a phone book. By placing one hand higher up off the ground you put it at a disadvantage, which forces the other arm to work harder. You also force the hand that is higher into a deeper range of motion at the bottom, which helps with shoulder mobility. This variation is also pretty challenging on the core since the uneven hands result in uneven forces through the torso, which causes the core to work overtime to counteract the rotation that wants to happen.
2 – Airborne Lunge: This is a unique exercise variation that helps ingrain the torso position and leg action need to get down into a pistol squat. To perform this exercise you stand on one leg and bend the other leg, trying to get your heel as close to your butt as possible. You then squat down, keeping the heel drawn in towards your butt and trying to touch the trail leg knee to the ground. Sounds simple but it is incredibly hard and takes a lot of body control and hip mobility to execute. Once you get it down, though, you will find your single leg squats much easier and be well on your way to a full pistol squat.
3 – Walk Back & Up Bridge: I love this one simply because it looks scary and really cool. Few things take the faith that leaning back and committing to your first Walk Back Bridge do few things take the core strength that the Walk Up Bridge do. To execute this exercise you simply stand a few feet in front of a wall (better too close that too far at first) and then bend backwards into a backbend. Keep bending until you have to reach back for the wall to stop you from falling backwards. Keep walking your hands down the wall until you get them on the floor and end in a Bridge. You then walk you hands back up the wall, pushing off at the top and coming back to the starting position. This exercise takes a lot of mobility, core strength and guts – it is one of the hardest exercises I think I do in my routine.
So there you have it, 3 bodyweight exercises that provide some pretty unique benefits and offer some unique challenges. While these 3 exercises don’t represent the hardest variations possible for the exercise category they fall into they will give a lot of riders something to shoot for and, when you get them down, provide an important stepping stone to those harder variations.
So how about you? Can you pull these exercises off? If you can do at least one of them I have a challenge for you – I’ve got 3 free copies of the No Gym, No Problem Workout Program (which will be released this Friday the 27th) to give away – one for each person who is the first to post a picture or video of them doing an Uneven Push Up, Walk Back & Walk Up Bridge or the Airborne Lunge (just pick one, you don’t need to do all 3). Just post your pic/ vid or a link to it showing the exercise you can do and I’ll send you a copy of my new program on Friday.