Training with Body Weight

This entry is part 4 of 11 in the series Training Programs

This is an exercise program that uses mostly body weight for resistance. For a couple of muscle groups, dumbbells are pressed into service to deliver the right amount of resistance, but most of the exercises depend on body weight. The exercises require very little equipment, take little time, and provide extraordinary health benefits. They’re worth doing!

Originally published 1999

This is a two-day a week program. Each session takes 20 to 30 minutes. That’s pretty time efficient, considering that every major muscle group gets exercised. On the other days, you might try to work in exercises on a schedule like this:

Session #1
Session #2
AbsGrips & Hips

I have found over time that more than two days a week of serious resistance training puts me into “overtraining” (fatigue, ennui) in a matter of weeks. So this program is built around what I know I can take. If you’re in high school or college, or not far out of those, you may well be able to stand a more aggressive schedule. Play with it. See what works best for you.

Play around with the schedule anyway. I tend to come up with a new training schedule every couple of months. As a friend of mine once said, if you want longevity in exercising, you have to commit to variety. Wise words.

Session 1

This session centers on the chest, back, arms, and trapezius muscles. Here are the exercises:

  • Toe touch (calisthenic warmup)
  • Push ups (use pushup bars — chest)
    For extra work and variety: raise feet to same height as bars.
  • Horizontal pullups (use a broomstick across to chairs — upper back)
  • Dips (hands on two chairs — tricepts)
  • Curl ups (pullups with palms facing inward — biceps)
  • Good Morning / Deadlift (dumbells — low back and hamstrings)
    Be sure to keep your back straight or slightly arched when you bend over.
  • Elbow Raise (dumbells — trapezius)
  • Shoulder shrugs (dumbells — trapezius)

Session #2

This session works the deltoids, lats, and leg muscles. Here are the exercises:

  • Windmills (calisthenic warmup)
  • Neck isometrics (forward/back, side-to-side, turning left/right)
  • Handstand pushups (deltoids and trapezius)
  • Standing Rotations and Raises (deltoids)
    Arms straight ahead, circle hand counterclockwise 10 times, then clockwise 10 times. Arms to sides, do the same circling. Then lift arms straight ahead 10 times and then to sides 10 times. For extra resistance, hold very light dumbells (a pound or two).
  • BentOver Rotations and Raises (deltoids)
    Same as above, only bent forward from the waist.
  • Pullups (palms out — lats)
  • Squats (dumbells — quads and buttocks)
  • Calf Raises
  • Foot Curls
    Imagine a towel under your foot. Work to curl it up.

Grips and Hips

The sequences above work all the major muscle groups, with the exception of the forearms, hips, and inner thighs. To target those muscle groups, here are some exercises you can optionally throw in for a third day of exercising:

  • Wrist Rolls
    The best piece of equipment for this is a weight hanging from a rope attached to the center of a bar. Rotate the bar to bring the weight up, then rotate in the reverse direction to lower it. This works the inner forearm on the concentric (raising) movement and the outer forearm on the eccentric (lowering) movement. After the weight is lowered, continue rotating in the same direction to work the outer forearm on the concentric movement and the inner forearm on the eccentric. {If you can’t find or make that piece of equipment, use a dumbell to do wrist curls. Sit, resting your arm on your leg, and curl a dumbell with your wrist, palm up. Use a slightly lower weight to do the curls palm down.)
  • Hammer Curls
    Hold a heavy bar at one end, with the long part behind you. Rotate the wrist down using the same motion you use for a hammer so that the far end of the bar rises up behind you.
  • Reverse Hammer Curls
    Hold the heavy bar at one end with the long part in front of you. Raise the far end of the bar upwards using only the wrist.
  • Wrist Rotations
    With the bar upright, grasp the bottom end. Rotate the bar until it is parallel to the ground, first on one side, then on the other.
  • Donut Curl
    Squeeze one of the donut-shaped hand exercisers. If you can’t find one, use one of the hand-squeeze exercisers or a tennis ball.
  • Pelvic Thrust
    Lie on your back, legs bent with feet flat on the ground, hips in the air. Squeeze your butt and push your hips up. Use a weight plate for extra resistance.
  • Inner Leg Raise
    Lie on your side, with one leg over the other. For the upper leg, put the foot flat on the floor in front of you. Lift the lower leg towards the ceiling. For extra resistance, use ankle weights.
  • Outer Leg Raise
    Lie on your side and lift your upper leg towards the ceiling. For extra resistance, use ankle weights. For variety, do this exercise standing up.

Copyright © 1999-2017, TreeLight PenWorks

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