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I absolutely love bodyweight training! I would choose some type of push-up over a barbell or dumbbell press any day of the week. Bodyweight training is so underrated and under-appreciated, it’s not even funny. Many fitness experts preach that you cannot build muscle just from bodyweight training alone. I tend to agree to a certain extent, but only if all you do is bang out 25 push-ups and 100 sit-ups each set.
But answer this question…What is the difference between a 3 rep max bench press and a 3-rep max handstand push up?
Your body can’t tell the difference between a barbell, a dumbbell, a kettlebell, or its own bodyweight. It only knows how hard it needs to contract in order to move the resistance.
1. Increased training frequency
If you’ve been in the iron game for a while, with a quest to get jacked, there is a fair chance you are pretty beaten up. Maybe you experience sore shoulders after benching or an aching lower back after squatting? What about your elbows, how do they feel after a few sets of tricep extensions?
All of this pain contributes to one thing… Less time spent in the gym.
I can guarantee you the guy who gets in 200 workouts a year is going to be much bigger than the guy who only does 100.
Well, the good news is you can still continue the quest to getting jacked without using deep heat before and after training because bodyweight exercises offer a more natural range of motion which therefore decreases joint stress on the body.
2. Greater Neuromuscular Demand
Whenever you move your body through space there is a greater neuromuscular demand on the body; this means that the brain will recruit more muscle fibres which will result in greater strength and muscle gains on a pull up as opposed to a lat pull down. Both are the same movement, but pull ups require your entire body to move through space as opposed to just your limbs on the lat pull down.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at gymnasts, these are by far the most jacked, ripped and strongest athletes in the world. And all they do is bodyweight training on rings and bars, not to mention training 6-7 times a week with full body workouts. Quite frankly, if you ask me, someone who bangs out hand push-ups is far more badass than a dude who can bench 200 kilos.
3. Incidental Training
When you bench press you obviously hit your pecs, deltoids and triceps. The only other way to turn on any additional muscle groups is to consciously do it.
However, if you flip over onto your stomach and crank out some one arm push ups, you now have a lot of incidental training going on. Apart from your pec, deltoid and tricep getting amped, your lats turn on to protect your shoulder, your abs and glutes fire to stop your hips from sagging, and your quads and hamstrings ignite to keep your legs straight.
All this adds up to a lot more time under tension which will result in greater muscle growth.
As I previously stated, people choose exercises that are far too easy and perform nothing but sets of 20+ reps. The magic formula to getting jacked can be summed up quite easily… “Get a pump with heavy weights” – Pavel Tsatsouline, Beyond Bodybuilding.
Therefore, you must select exercises that are a little more advanced beyond push ups and sit ups…
I can guarantee you if you try any of these exercises, you will truly appreciate the difficulty that comes along with bodyweight training.