Bodyweight Movements - The Guide to Increasing Intensity by Josh Bryant
Josh Bryant has a masters degree in science, is a leading expert on strength and conditioning with the ISSA International Sports Sciences Association and holds world records in both powerlifting and strongman. He is co author of best selling book Jailhouse Strong highlighting bodyweight training.
Prisons no longer have weights but still house scores of Jailhouse denizens that could easily win a natural bodybuilding show—all built with nothing more than bodyweight training.
“The Great Gama” built a 56-inch chest during his 50-year undefeated wrestling career and was considered to be one of the strongest men in the world in his prime and trained solely with his bodyweight.
You are never too strong for bodyweight training—the following five strategies are aimed at how advanced strength trainees can make bodyweight movements more challenging.
1. Focus on the Negative
As you lower yourself on a bodyweight movement, do it with control and feel the muscle fibers you are targeting. Concentration on the negative of a bodyweight movement’s increases intensity because of prolonged time under tension and a greater mind-muscle connection. For example, if a set of six pull-ups is easy, try doing a set of five with a five-second negative.
2. Move Away from the Midline
The greater the distance between the muscles you are targeting and what you are trying to lift, the less your mechanical advantage. When deadlifting, if the bar drifts away from you, it is harder to lift. For push-ups, place your hands on the floor in front of your head, they instantly become more difficult.
3. Use Paused Reps
Pause at the bottom of the movement for one second, and nearly half of all assisting elastic-like energy stored on the negative is gone; after five seconds, it’s pretty much annihilated. A one-second pause is going to force your body to recruit new muscle fibers.
4. Increase Range of Motion
A larger range of motion forces you to do more work. Some examples are doing lunges from off a step or doing a push-up between two boxes and while emphasizing the stretch.
5. Go Unilateral
So push-ups are easy? Go ahead and do them one handed. Besides having to lift a lot more weight, this will require and build better balance and core stability and exploit the bilateral deficit.