Why bodyweight exercises are KING
“Herschel Walker looked like he lifted weights every day. He was built like Arnold Schwarzenegger. So what was his secret? Bodyweight exercises. Using your own body as a resistance can be the best way to condition yourself. Special Forces athletes know this as they are required by their training to do massive amounts of bodyweight exercises on a daily routine. Herschel Walker’s workout routine consisted of only a few bodyweight exercises”.
Source: — http://sealgrinderpt.com/navy-seal-workout/herschel-walker-pushup-workout.html/.
- Did up to 3500 pushups and 1500 pullups as part of his DAILY routine!
- Starting a career as a MMA fighter at the age of 53!
- Eats just ONE MEAL a day!
“Almost everybody wants to look like a body builder and do 500 pounds on the bench. That sounds good, but all of sudden you’ve got back problems and all these other problems.”
Well, well, well.
If there was ever any argument to support what I have said in bold above, the above “excerpt” should do much to put those arguments to rest ONCE AND FOR ALL.
(And before you start on a rant about how “Walker is only one person”, the same damned thing can probably be said of Mike Tyson, Bruce Lee, Ken Shamrock, The Great Gama, or any other “true beast” (when it comes to physicality and being at the top of their respective professions!)
The Gama did pushups and squats as part of his daily routine and he was literally unstoppable. The same thing applies to Walker.
And it can apply to YOU, my friend, if you just take what I am saying to heart.
The first thing people think of when they think of bodyweight exercises is that “they’re easy”, and “useless”. And they think the exact OPPOSITE when it comes to commercial gyms, shiny machines, the latest treadmills et al.
Which unfortunately is utter tripe, and a side effect of mental conditioning, but first, a bit on the great Gama of India.
The LION OF PUNJAB, the GREAT GAMA!
(1878–1960; and by far the greatest wrestler to have ever lived)
- Performed feats of strength at the age of 10 that left ADULT wrestlers “gasping”!
- UNDEFEATED IN OVER 50 YEARS
- 5000 squats and 3000 pushups daily
- Lifted a 1200 KG stone ; which TWENTY FIVE “regular” people together failed to budge.
In 1910, with no more challenges to be had in India, Gama focused his attention on the rest of the world. Accompanied by his younger brother Imam Bukhsh, Gama sailed to England to compete with the Western Wrestlers. It was then that legendary English wrestling commentator Percy Longhurst got to watch him train.
“I shall not readily forget the day when I went over to Gama’s training quarters near Kingston to watch at a spell of training.
The morning he spent in going through a few hundred repetitions of the ‘dip’; this was followed by several bouts (no rests between) with his fellow Indians, Imambux and another. A two hours rest and a meal followed. The meal, by the way was a quart of broth, concocted of a couple of folks with spices. The afternoon was given up to deep knee bending. Nude, but for a loin cloth, out of doors in the warm September sunshine, Gama began his up and down motion.
Methodically, rhythmically, his open hands on the top of a post standing about 4 foot out of the ground, Gama went on with his knee bending. There was nothing hurried about it; he started as though he meant keeping on forever. And after watching him for a long while, that, so I concluded, was his intention.
I timed him by the watch for twenty minutes, and still he continued. The perspiration was streaming down him but there was never a sign of wavering or slacking off. For how long he actually did continue I do not recall. I was deep in a chat with Mr. Benjamin [Gama’s manager in England] who told me that when Gama did finish he would undergo a vigorous all over rubbing with dry mustard.
To watch him doing the dipping exercise was a revelation. There was power put into every movement, up and down…It was easy to understand, watching the regular rise and fall of the smooth brown body, the bending and straightening of the rounded limbs, to what extend not only the arms and the shoulders, but the muscles of the chest, abdomen, back and loins participated in the vigorous execution.
One could understand how Gama had acquired the enormous bulk of solid flesh at the back of his upper arms; whence came the wonderful size of the muscles around the shoulders and the base of the neck. Smooth, solid muscle; muscle in bulk; yet again I must repeat that when Gama “set” for example, his arm, his fist clenched, that acute outlining of the individual muscles on which the enthusiastic physical culturist is wont to pride himself, the ‘steel bands’ and ‘hard knots’, beloved of the lady fiction writer, were conspicuous by their absence. All one was saw was a rounded swelling, a smooth prominence here and there.
But there was strength, an abundance of it, in those smooth and supple limbs. Anyone who saw Gama overcome Dr B.F.Roller could be sure of that.”
– Percy Longhurst
Still need more convincing? More case stories? Well, my blog should have plenty of ’em, but for the purposes of this article let me just start off by saying that most people have been sold a bill of goods in terms of fitness, and life in general.
We’ve all been told that “hard work” and “putting in the hard yards” is the real secret behind success in any endeavor, and while that is true to a certain extent, it does NOT address the real keys.
In terms of fitness, we’re been brainwashed to believe that “paid memberships” somehow offer you a magic formula to get fit because…well, because, asinine as it sounds, “we pay for it, so it must be good”.
Just tossing a few hundred buckolas on the counter does not guarantee you results any more than lounging on the couch and doing beer curls does, unless of course you count “babe watching” as “results”.
To put this another way, the act of simply paying a swimming instructor doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll learn swimming at any level, does it?
Your efforts, and willingness to follow what he/she tells you to do, and a laser-like-focus are what matter, and count as opposed to “what you paid him or her”.
The latest spanking new machines don’t either. In most cases all they do is end up injuring those that are healthy, and aggravate pre existing injuries that folks have.
But bodyweight stuff? Oh, it’s “free”! Pooh!
How can anything “free” be good?
Well, it is in this case, my friend. The best things in life are free, and bodyweight exercises are as well. ALL you need is a few square feet of space to train and the right focus, and your good to go.
Now, am I saying that you absolutely cannot get results if you train with weights or machines in commercial gyms or elsewhere?
NO. You CAN get “some” results by doing anything with the right focus.
All I’m saying though is that you can obtain far, far more superior results doing bodyweight stuff than you can with any other form of conditioning.
“Oh, those are just pushups! Those are EASY!”
“Oh, just bodyweight squats! How can those make my legs bigger!”
“Bridging! Stretching the spine! Pah! I’m not looking to join the hippie club!”
Believe me, these are all comments I hear on a regular basis when I train folks (on the few occasions I do so).
And it’s a CROCK.
Well, first of all, even if they were to be easy, there are ways to make it harder. Do more reps. Slow the tempo down.
Do multiple sets. 25 sets of 10 pushups each done at the proper cadence and done in less than 20 minutes (if you can even get that many reps to begin with) will make you feel it, and HOW!
Or, do 5 sets of 20 Hindu pushups quickly. Or, do a set of 100 in under 2 minutes in proper form.
Or do reverse pushups in sets of 25 (most folks can’t even bang out 1, and this includes “yoga masters/yoginis” as well).
And so forth.
But the key thing here to remember though is how the exercises a) make you FEEL, and b) how they affect your entire body.
Bodyweight exercises done correctly won’t just make you feel it the way you feel after lifting weights in the gym, or running 5 miles.
“Done correctly”. And most folks don’t do them correctly.
I can’t recall the number of times I’ve come across clowns that claim they can do “100 pushups at a go quickly”, and then when I actually see them do it, in terms of execution, they’re flopping up and down about two inches and making exaggerated “grunting” noises.
The same thing with pull-ups. You see these dudes that claim to bang out “25 pullups at one go”, and yet they can’t do ONE in proper form.
Here is an actual experience (one amongst many), quoted from my blog (http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/blog/item/176-who-to-avoid-and-who-to-emulate) here: -
“Judging from the reader feedback I’ve gotten so far, a LOT of you seem to enjoy my posts describing my workouts (and sometimes, life in general) in Southern China, and for those of you that enjoy that sort of thing, this note will be right up your alley.
For those that don’t — — well, you might want to read it anyway — — if just for yet another reminder to avoid doing “bunny curls” at the gym, and so forth, hehe.
Anyway, I’ve been noticing a strange guy wheedling around the park on one of those “one wheeled cycles” that seem to be the rage for some people these days (though for the life of me I can’t figure out why).
This guy looks like the epitome of the “roid crazed” bodybuilder I talk so much about — — shirt stretched tight over “puffed up (to the max)” pecs, huge arms, a broad upper back and legs that. . . well, legs that look rather like chicken legs compared to the rest of his “physique”.
(and given that the bulk of the work they get is holding him up on the motorized tool he so proudly struts around on, music playing to the max, that isn’t surprising, is it?)
Anyway, this dude whizzes around the local park quite a bit, and I’ve noticed him often after returning from my daily climb, usually just before I start part #2 of my workout. And a couple of days back, this dude stopped right by the monkey bars (where I was working out) and parked himself on a bench nearby, flexing his “massive” biceps as he did so, hoping to catch the passerby’s attention with every pose he struck.
And catch their attention he did — — though not for the reasons he’d want. With his sunglasses, shaved head, massive upper body and stork like legs and music that blared nonstop through his phone — — and of course, his “one wheeled cycle”, he WAS the center of attraction, but again, not for the reasons he’d want.
I mean, it was one of the ONLY times where I can remember breaking down laughing during a workout — — but more on that later.
Anyway, I noticed the dude “sizing” me up from a distance, and he was soon at the monkey bars, music in tow, preparing to do a set of pull-ups.
He grabbed the bars, and hung for a second or so, or what seemed like it.
And then, he proceeded to emit a set of curious sounds.
“UGGH! GRR!! MMMPPFFF” (all this before the actual pull-ups, mind you).
And then, he “jumped” up to the monkey bars, chest flopping around as he did so, and held himself there for a minute, furiously grunting and moaning as if he was trying to lift King Kong on his back.
(and just so you know, the sunglasses stayed on while he was “exercising”).
Down a few inches, and up again. Down, and up. Down, and up. And then I heard a loud thud, as the “man mountain” fell down to the ground, much like the figurative ton of bricks, and furiously started flexing his biceps, and wiping imaginary sweat off his brow.
(and that, my friend, is saying a lot considering that the humidity levels here are over 90% — — not to mention the actual temperatures themselves — — I seem to start to drip with sweat even after a mild walk — — let alone a vigorous workout!)
Actually, I’m exaggerating when I say a “few inches”. Those “massive arms” could barely go up and down more than TWO inches, if that, and that was the extent of his pull-ups before he moved on to the dipping bars.
The strange grunts emanated from him again, and he jumped up to the “top” position of the dip, and furiously held himself there, contorting his face, looking every bit like a gorilla that has bitten off more than it can chew.
But he never did a single dip.
A few seconds later, the contortions were replaced by a wide grin, and the dude starts to “pedal” on the dipping bars, moving his legs slowly around, much like a dowager slowly cycling through the neighborhood market.
No — — I’m NOT kidding you — — that was his version of the “dip”, and it was at that point that I burst out laughing — — hey, some things are too much for even yours truly to ignore, and laughter is good for health anyway!
After that he looked around, grinned at all the onlookers snickering behind him, and made his way down the path again, ruffling his “hair” (though he had none), and ogling all the women as he did so.
Sanity returned to the place for a while — — or at least until he showed up again — — but that’s a different story altogether!
Jesus jumpin’ Christ on a pogo stick. Makes me want to puke when I see this tomfoolery.
My websites at www.0excusesfitness.com and www.rahulmookerjee.com and blog address these issues periodically but for the sake of this book, let’s just say that proper form is key, and most people do NOT have a clue (or don’t care to) about how to do these exercises correctly.
Anyway, back to how they make you feel?
They will make you feel ALIVE. You’ll be sweating buckets, even if you work out in an air-conditioned environment (which I currently do for various reasons). And if you’re working out outdoors in extreme heat and humidity, be prepared to sweat GALLONS.
Literally gallons. I’ve often come home after a hard outdoor workout feeling like my T-shirt weighs about 10 pounds, and that ain’t no exaggeration.
They will make you huff and puff like a runaway locomotive on steroids.
Now, it stands to reason that all this sweating and huffin’/puffin” will accomplish more than just “blow the house down”. You’ll lose weight and oodles of it, and FAST. If your already in super shape, you’ll just get in better condition (think the “V” shape, or “Greek God” sculptures, what have you).
Most importantly though it will MAKE YOU FEEL ALIVE for the rest of the day. And you’ll get a buzz, a spring in your step, that feeling of sheer exhilaration and confidence that you just CANNOT get from long distance cardio, aerobics, weight lifting, or ANY other physical activity that I know of, bar none.
And this confidence and exuberance will reflect in every area of your life, including, but not limited to, business, inter-personal relationships and more.
The deep breathing involved will energize you and set you up for the rest of the day. More importantly, deep breathing ALONE done correctly has the potential to literally TRANSFORM you from the “inside out”.
As Martin Farmer Burns, old time wrestler and strongman famously said, “Deep breathing alone has made many a sick man well, and many a weak man strong”.
There is great innate wisdom in these words.
You’ll have to experience it to really understand what I am talking about, of course. Mere words do not and can’t do justice to what I’m saying.
The key thing to remember as well is that most people treat bodyweight exercises as a joke, and something to be done “after serious training”. It’s amazing, but despite all the literature out there, you still come across folks that do bodyweight training and complain it doesn’t given them any palpable results.
What a load of absolute baloney.
If anything, it’s the exact opposite.
But don’t just take my word for it. Look at the athletes that we consider to be fittest and most conditioned, such as boxers, sprinters, wrestlers, UFC fighters, gymnasts etc?
What do they do as the bedrock of their routine?
You guessed it. BODYWEIGHT stuff. Sure, they may add weights in there somewhere, but the bodyweight stuff is what really forms the core of their routines, and in most cases that’s all they do.
Now, I don’t know about you, but if there was a “fight” or “functional fitness strength” between say Ken Shamrock, and Arnie, as an example, I’m pretty sure who I’d put my money on.
Bah, I hear you say. Humbug. Shamrock is a trained fighter. Arnie is training purely for looks!
True, I’d say.
But is he really strong? More to the point, what can he do with that strength?
Most modern day gym goers and bodybuilders can work up to the point where they can “lift” a ton of weight, either free weights, or machine assisted weights.
And that’s good if that’s what you want, but yet those same people are often times completely unable to bang out 10 regular pushups in proper form.
The reverse is not true though. Take any professional gymnast or even dancer, and you’ll see the comparable ease with which they can “hoist” weights, even though not having done it as the base of their routines.
So much for “gym goers” being stronger than those who do bodyweight stuff exclusively.
Last, but not least, most bodybuilders/modern day weightlifters have absolutely atrocious and next to none conditioning and cardiovascular health. Ask one of those bloated “roid monsters” to climb a steep hill, and chances are he won’t be able to move for the next few days after doing so.
Believe me, and trust me later, my friend. These exercises are hard, hard, and HARD.
And REGARDLESS of your current fitness levels, they WILL make you work like you ain’t never worked before IF YOU DO THEM CORRECTLY.
The old timers practiced bodyweight stuff on a regular basis, and I don’t think anyone can argue with their results, can they?
Let me close this out by saying that smart folks reserve judgment until AFTER they “do the thing”.
If you’re still not convinced, then “do the thing” and then get back to me.
I’ll bet you my bottom dollar you’ll be a singing an entirely different tune.
P.S. — The above is an excerpt (somewhat modified though) from the 0 Excuses Fitness BOOK (part of a System containing FIVE mobile compatible videos). The book alone is over 300 pages long, and the system is well worth a grab; truly the BEST darn fitness system ever. Here is where you can grab it — https://0excusesfitness.com/0excusesfitnessystem/