Let take another example. Say you want to strengthen your triceps using body weight exercises. There is a move called the Half Plank Tiger Bend (see picture below)
Basically, you start off in kind of a push up position but with your hands a bit higher than shoulder width. With your elbows close to your sides lower your body down until your elbows are on the ground. Make sure to keep your elbows tight. Then press back up using your triceps. If you want to make it more difficult bring your hands closer to your hips. If you want to make it easier extend your hands out further.
2. Body Weight Distribution
This is by far my favorite body weight modification to make exercises harder. Let’s use the normal push up as an example. Start off with good posture. Now shift your weight over to one side so that your weight distribution across your arms is no longer 50/50. Shift your weight so that it is about 80/20.
See the picture below…
You can see in the picture on the left that more of my weight is in my right arm. As I lower my body down my right arm takes more weight and it makes the exercise more difficult. Its kind of like grabbing a heavier weight when weight lifting. If you do a push up with 50/50 weight distribution it easier. But if you do it with a distribution of 80/20 or even 90/10 its even more difficult.
Again, this technique can be applied to pretty much any exercise you can think of. Let’s take another example… the pull up.
Look at the picture below. Normal pull ups have your weight distributed 50/50 across both arms. In the example below I have about 70% of my weight in my right arm and about 30% in left arm. As I lift myself up I keep this balance so that my right arm is doing most of the work. After totally fatiguing on that side, make sure you fatigue the other side.
The Importance of Fatiguing Within A Low Rep Range
One of the biggest reasons people make the comment, “body weight exercises are used only for leanness” is because people don’t know how to make them harder. In order to build muscle mass you have to fatigue within a low rep range. If you are cranking out 50 push ups in a row you won’t be building large chest muscles. You are building up your chest muscular endurance but not muscular size.
You have to tear the muscle within a low rep range such as a 6-8 rep range for strength gains and a 8-12 rep range for muscle hypertrophy (growth).
When you use the techniques above make sure that you are angling your body and distributing your weight so that you fatigue within that rep range. For example, say you are doing push ups. If you can do 10 push ups and fatigue at the 10th you don’t need to apply the body weight distribution technique. If you are stronger however, shift your weight and find that “sweet spot” so that you fatigue within the right rep range. But pay attention however because each set will be different. For the first set you may have a 90/10 body weight distribution but by your fourth set you may be at a 60/40 weight distribution.
I hope you have learned that body weight exercises CAN be used for muscle growth along with leanness. I remind you that learning techniques aren’t going to bring results. Effort and dedication are the cornerstones of results. But you already know that because you have been following Chad Howse!
Todd Kuslikis is the founder of a body weight exercise site called AShotofAdrenaline.net (http://www.ashotofadrenaline.net). He is also the creator of the Complete Body Weight Training System (http://ashotofadrenaline.net/free-gift/) which can be downloaded for free.