The Ultimate Guide To Bodyweight Training – Part I I

updating imageBecause of the nature of body weight training and the minimal eccentric damage put upon the muscular system and little stress on the CNS, you can perform them 3-5 times per week and still make progress.  Regardless if you are implementing a weight training program now, or looking for a new program, doing this can be easy.

Let’s take an athlete (13-14 years old) who is lacking proper movement efficiency, lacks mobility and strength, and is completely new to training.

Sample Beginners Program

Start with 4 weeks of body weight training and re-assess every 5th week. Example:

“SAMPLE” Body weight Training Workout Program

WEEK 1: M/W/F- Bodyweight Training
• Perform 5 body weight exercises, 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps each.

WEEK 2: M/T/Th/F- Bodyweight Training
• Perform 6-8 exercises, 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps each.

WEEK 3: M/T/Th/F- Body weight Training
• Perform 8-10 exercises, 4-6 sets of 15-25 reps each.

WEEK 4: M/T/Th/F- Body weight Training
• Perform 10-12 exercises, 5-7 sets of 20-30 reps each

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You should see substantial improvement in your overall fitness and conditioning as you progress from week to week. With a 4 day cycle, divide most of the exercises into an upper / lower split.  Even though body weight exercises are low stress, these are new trainees, take care of their muscles!

Bodyweight Training Coaches Notes

At Synergy Athletics, I like to combine these body weight exercises with sled dragging and light odd object training to prepare the “new guys” for the weights.  This is essential general physical preparedness that a lot of trainers SKIP!

What are your tested lifts?  I’d like to propose they change with the training age and abilities of the athletes.  I see no reason to test a beginning middle school or even high school athlete on the bench and squat anymore.  Instead, I like to create baseline bodyweight goals.

For example, I’ll test push ups.  Once the person can get up to 30 pushups, then they can start doing some weighted pressing movements.

For young athletes, push ups, pull ups, number of body weight squats, etc are a MUCH more accurate way of assessing their current physical abilities as opposed to loaded exercise in which they have no experience….and barely enough strength to perform.

These exercises will build up a baseline of strength, balance, coordination, and neurological adaptations.

You can play with the rest periods too to see improvements in the number of reps you can do without stopping. Start with 60-90 seconds rest, depending on your fitness levels. Try to take off 5 seconds of rest per day.

Before you know it you will hit the recommended numbers listed above after a few weeks of solid training and consistency.

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**Also, an important point to remember:**  just because the numbers are written on paper doesn’t mean the athlete is ready for it on that given day! Remember if you’re training an athlete, client, or simply using these tips for yourself, when your form starts to go, terminate the set.  It is not effective to use awful looking reps and reinforcing bad technique (especially in beginning lifters).

To quote World Class Speed Coach, Charlie Francis “First do it right, then speed it up!” In other words, perform correct reps, then add more when you’re ready!

Of course, this is just an example, nothing is set in stone. You can throw in a bodyweight training day a couple times a week, or add them in to your current weight training program.There’s nothing wrong with performing some high-rep body weight work to take stress off the joints, as well as aid with recovery from a brutal training session the day before.

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The Top 5 Movements Explained

This luckily is pretty easy and the combinations are almost endless. The basics are always in place, but you can branch off to variations as the basics become too easy or you are looking for variety.

For the purpose of this article, I will discuss the 5 basic exercises in detail (squat, push-up, chin-up, sit-up, and dip). Then you can take a look at the variations that can be utilized after you’ve conquered these basic movements first.

The Ultimate Guide To Bodyweight Training Part I I I Later this week
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About John Cortese 4 Articles


That guy to the left on the gymnastic rings– that’s me, John Cortese. Do you typically see exercises like this  being done in your gym on a regular basis? Probably not, but I’ll get to that later.

Some interesting facts you might like to know about me:

    • I’m a certified Youth Fitness Specialist through the IYCA (International Youth Conditioning Association), one of the PREMIER organizations built upon maximizing youth athletic development and fitness for a fun and healthier lifestyle from ages 6-18.
    • I’ve worked with athletes and clients of all types and ages, ranging from 12-55, in sports ranging from football, track and field, volleyball, soccer, baseball, basketball- basically any sport that would require more SPEED, STRENGTH, AND EXPLOSIVE POWER to excel among your peers; and with all types of hardcore strength and fitness enthusiasts ranging from doctors to electricians, pilots to CEO’s, and financial advisors to name a few!
    • I was a former football/track and field athlete (I played wide receiver and ran the sprints/relays in high school at Vintage High in Napa, CA and also at Santa Rosa JC in Santa Rosa, CA- one of the top JC football programs in the country), so you can trust that I’ve been there in regards to training for maximal strength, speed, and power! I have Personal Bests of 49.8 seconds over 400 meters, 22.5 seconds over 200 meters, 4.47 seconds 40 yard dash, as well as a 9′ 7″ standing long jump and 33″ vertical jump– not bad for a 5′ 10″ 185 pounder right?
  • I’m currently a Senior undergraduate student at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. I will receive my BS in Kinesiology in June, 2010 (pretty soon!)*

Now, enough about ME. Let’s talk about what I mentioned above in the first few lines.

How common is it to see exercises being done that are either a) HARD, b) HEAVY, c) elicit some sort of RESULTS, or d) just plain out GRUELING ?!
Answer: Not very often! And I’ll tell you why very briefly:

Most people hate getting out of their comfort zones. It can be scary to try something you’ve never ever done before. Add that to lack of know-how and proper knowledge on HOW to train PROPERLY for maximal RESULTS, and you get a recipe that gets most people spinning their wheels -OR- as I like to call it, going nowhere fast, in their quest to get faster, add some muscle, get shredded, etc, etc etc.

So, then, you might be wondering “Well John, I totally agree with you– What is the solution?!”
I feel your pain, believe me. It’s not your fault. We are constantly being bombarded with misinformation about exercise and nutrition that it makes me want to scream, pull my hair out, vomit.. you get the idea. So, I made this website to diminish all the misconceptions, lies, and myths that you’ve been told for years and years.
More than likely you’ve been lied to– hey, they may not have known right from wrong. But you’ll come to find out very quickly that I’m here to help YOU.

I post on a regular basis, including audio interviews, videos, links to other great resources, recommendations. I give you the FACTS and I don’t like to steer you in the wrong direction.

It is my purpose to help you achieve all of your goals with methods that are actually proven in the REAL WORLD to WORK,  free of gimmicks, fluff, and bull shit.

If you like this style of training and communication, then you and I are on the same page my friend.

Here’s to maximizing your Performance,

Your Friend/Coach,
John Cortese YFS

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