Some of the most effective exercises are bodyweight movements. They are a staple of my workout and how you perform them is a good indicator of overall fitness. Some of my favorite bodyweight exercises are:
- Chin Ups
- Push Ups
- Inverted Rows
- Bodyweight saws
With that said, some of the basic exercises of all my workouts are below:
(Underhand or Neutral Grip)
I change the basic chin up adding weight to myself or choosing a rep range and doing however many sets it takes to accomplish the set number of chin ups (i.e. 75 reps, 5 sets of 15). You can also change the tempo of the reps – focusing on the negative by lowering yourself slowly or holding at the top for a set number of seconds. I have found chin ups to be much more effective in building your back than any type of lat pulldown. Remember to pull with your back and keep your scapula retracted. Chins ups while principally a back exercise, you will also hit your arms, shoulders and core.
This should be the bedrock of all lower body training days. This trains whole posterior chain (lower back, glutes and hamstrings), which is the source of all your power and speed. Also by squatting with a barbell and not a smith machine or any other assistance machines, you are engaging your core. You can change the basic squat up similar to chin ups with rep tempo. You can also use it as a max effort exercise (using Prilepin’s Chart from my previous blog). Another alternative is to use it to develop power by using a sub-maximal weight (55-65% of your max) and moving the bar as fast as you can. Even when performing “max effort” work, the reps should be done as crisp as possible. Squeeze the bar as hard as you can, keep your scapula retracted, engage your core and sit back on your heels. People try to use going parallel as a rule of thumb, but squat as deep as it is comfortable. An alternative also is to perform box squats, which is great for beginners and advanced trainers.
(Barbell or Dumbbell)
Great upper body exercise to developing strength and size. One of the biggest mistake people make is to flare their elbows out, so that they are parallel to the floor. The key is to keep your elbows 45 degrees from upper body, keep your scapula retracted, where you are almost sitting on your traps. As you lower the bar you want to be almost trying to pull the bar apart and as you fire the weight up, drive through your heels. The same rules apply here with varying with rep tempo etc. One of the variations I added this summer after completing my primary sets, was to perform 2 sets of 6 where I used 55% of my max and lowered the bar to 1 inch off my chest and held for 3 seconds; then fired the bar up. I performed 6 reps like that for 2 sets. This was a great way to break through a sticking point.
I wrote a whole blog on the benefits of sprinting. You are producing forces 3-4 times your bodyweight (what exercise in the gym can you do that the weight is 3-4 times your bodyweight?) and it’s great for getting lean.
I just listed out 3 basic exercises with probably somewhere between 20-30 variations overall. Changing things up is one of the best ways to keep things fresh while your training. I change up my routines every 3 to 4 weeks by changing exercise selections or rep schemes. To some up this blog you want your training time to be the most efficient and effective and the best way of doing that is to focus on bodyweight exercises and compound movements with barbells or dumbbells – stay away from machines!