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10 Best Bodyweight Exercises – Part 1: Mastery of the Exercises

10 Best Bodyweight Exercises – Part 1: Mastery of the Exercises

Can you gain strength, body awareness, and self-esteem, improve your physique and feel like a million bucks with one category of exercises?

Yes.

Whether you’re looking for improvements in your physique, increased strength, conditioning and fat loss, or exercises that can challenge you mentally and build your inner strength you can’t underestimate the power of bodyweight exercises.

Bodyweight exercises can be done everywhere, and they can be progressed and regressed to fit everyone. You can use them for strength gains and muscle gains, and you can put them together to form a circuit for conditioning and fat burning. They translate well over from the gym to real life as you’ll increase your relative strength; how strong you are relative to your own body weight. The best part about it is the increased self-awareness and how you can better move your body.

Narrowing these down to 10 is extremely difficult, but by becoming a Master in these exercises and variations of these you will be guaranteed to experience benefits like:

  • Increased strength
  • More muscle
  • Lower body fat
  • Increased self-esteem and well-being
  • More energy as a by-product of increased relative strength
  • Increased coordination, body awareness and athleticism
  • Positive correlations to strength gains in other gym exercises

pushups

    The 4 Essentials that form the out-spring for most variations:

    1.Pull-Ups

    Mastering the Pull-Up exercise is a goal most people set themselves when they step foot in the gym. Why? On an a physiological level there isn’t much that beats the feeling of pulling yourself up on a bar. You feel totally in control of yourself. Do not feel bad or ashamed if you can’t do them—it’s your willingness and determination to do something about it that matters. Whatever you’ve done so far, or haven’t done in order to not be able to do them is because of something you’ve created yourself, which is a positive thing because you have the power to create the change necessary to master a pull-up.

    Level 1: Negative Pull-Ups. Jump up and hold for as long as you can. Do not lose motivation when each repetition feels worse than the former, but compare your first repetition with the first repetition the next day or next week. A good shoot is to be able to hold for 30 seconds in the lowering phase.

    Level 2: Band-Assisted Pull-Ups: Attach a band to the bar and pull it under your foot or knee. Work up to sets of 10 repetitions

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    Level 3: Pull-Ups: You’ve now mastered the pull-up, so it’s time to explore a world of endless possibilities and variations to become a Master. Going from 0-1 is harder and takes longer than from 1-3 repetitions.

    2. Push-Ups

    As with pull-ups, push-ups are great to be able to master—whether you’re working on your 1st, 10th or 30th

    For mastering the first using this approach is a powerful method:

    Level 1: Incline Push-Ups: Do push-ups against a bench; work up to 3-4 sets of 10 repetitions, then decrease the angle of the incline with a lower bench.

    Level 2: Negative Push-Ups: As with pull-ups, we’ll go for negative. You’re much stronger in the eccentric, or negative, phase of the lift, so take advantage of it. Pull yourself down to the ground on a 3-count and hold the bottom position for another 3-count, then set your knees to the floor and push yourself up.

    Level 3: Pushups: Stay commited to these variations and there’s not a doubt in the world that you will master the first push-up. And like the pull-ups, going from 0-1 is much harder than 1-3, or even 5. From there is a trip in wonderland with tons of variations to accomplish.

    3.Squats

    Known as one of the “Big 3” in strength training, just mastering the movement of squatting has become problematic in today’s day and age. With all the sitting and working on computers we become tight and get restrictive movement in places we don’t want. This can be a cause of a lot of your back and knee problems. Taking the appropriate steps to becoming a master of the squat can give a whole wonder of benefits:

    • Increased flexibility and movement
    • Less back and knee pain
    • Ability to increase overall body strength

    To master the squat, start with these two steps:

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    1. Stretch: At least once a day, stretch calves, hips, quads, hamstring and lats for 45-60 minutes on each side for each muscle group. Frequency trumphs as key. 1 minute each day is better than 10 minutes once a week.

    2. Squat in your warm up: Practice makes perfect? Perfect practice makes perfect. Always include squatting in your warm up: not only will you get better in the move itself, but it’s actually a great way to increase body temperature and increase your movement before taking on more vigorous tasks.

    4.Lunges

    The last of the 4 essentials is lunges. The Squat is a great move to master, but it can lead to some problems if movement is restricted. The beauty of lunges is the use of one leg at the time. Not only does it increase the time you have to work, but it allows for better movement and easier to use good form. If you’re looking to build leg strength, build muscle and lose body fat, lunge variations are a must. Much like squats, just by doing lunges you will increase your flexibility.

    Reverse Lunges: Doing lunges backwards feels much more natural for most people, than the standard Forward Lunge. Take a long step back, you’ll most likely feel a great stretch on the front side of your rear leg (increases flexibilty and movement). Make sure your front heel is always on the ground and your shin is vertical at all times. Slowly touch your knees to the floor, or close to, and explode up by pushing your front heel against the ground. Master with bodyweight for sets of 10 reps then move on to the dumbbells.

    These were The 4 Essentials for Bodyweight Mastery. No matter what level you’re at, you can make them fit your need and challenge yourself to become better.

    climbing-stairs

      Here are six other exercises you should include or work on for developing a stronger body.

      5.Bulgarian Split Squats

      Put your rear leg on a bench, drop straight down, and make sure your front heel always stays in contact with the ground to avoid excess stress on the knees. Retain a tall posture throughout the whole exercise. To advance you can pick up a pair of dumbbells.

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      They will work quads, glutes and abs, and let’s not forget your ability to stabilize.

      3 sets of 6-10 reps will do the job.

      6.Burpees

      For conditioning and decreasing body fat this exercise might be one of the most effective ones out there, and most intense. And you need zero equipment. This is done for either time or reps.

      Stand erect, squat down and place your hands on the floor. Kick your feet back to a pushup position, and depending on strength levels you can do a “push-up” by laying your body flat on the floor. This might go for a correct Burpee, but for speed and intensity purposes it’s more efficient to go for a push-up position, then jump back to the squat position and do a jump in the air.

      3 sets of 10-12 repetitions with 20 second rest between sets or go for time: 4-6 sets of 20 seconds with 10 seconds rest.

      7.Sprints

      One of the most underrated forms of bodyweight training is sprinting. You’re basically throwing your body forward, which is a test of relative strength. Can be done for short duration, high intensity, short rest for conditioning and fat loss purposes or longer rest periods, high speed and short durations for explosiveness and increase your potential to increase strength. By working on sprint technique you’ll be more aware of how to move your body in space. Mastering the art of sprinting is one of the most athletic skills.

      The last 3 exercises are more advanced variations

      8.Handstand Pushups

      Want to take pushups to a new level for building muscle and increasing strength? Try handstand pushups. Start in a pushup position by a wall. Walk back up the wall until you stand erect. The worst thing, and biggest fear for most people in the beginning, is the uncomfortable feeling of standing so close to the wall. You feel like you’re about to fall over. Get used to just standing there first. Then progress towards slowly lowering yourself to the ground. Once you start feeling comfortable start cranking out reps.

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      Do 3 sets of as many reps as possible

      9.L-sits

      A foundamental move from gymnastics, L-sits can be done from the ground or on handles. The handles will make it easier as there’s more room for movement. Sit on the floor, or handles, and lift yourself up from the ground. Legs straight out. Hold for sets of 30 seconds. Your triceps, shoulders, abs and hip flexors will be on fire the whole time.

      10.Muscle-Ups

      The best measure of upper body athleticism may be the Muscle-Up; also a basic exercise from the gymnastic world. This is basically a pull-up into a dip. The transition is the hardest part. Get strong in pull-ups, then work your way up towards 20 reps and get strong in pull-ups with additional weights. While you’re on that mission start with grip training for the muscle-up. You need something called a false grip (see picture to the right), which enables you to make the transition easier. With the false grip practice just hanging there, and progress towards doing pull ups. One great way to get better at mastering the transition is to lower the rings, or stand on a bench if you use a bar, and jump up and get the feeling of going from a pull into a dip.

      As you get stronger, be careful, they can be stressful for the shoulders if done with high frequency.

       

      There you have it: 10 bodyweight exercises to form a foundation for mastery to not only gain strength, build muscle, and lose body fat, but also reveal the great secrets and benefits you get from bodyweight training. Increased coordination, athleticism, self-awareness, and self-esteem team up with the truly great feeling of mastery you experience once you are able to do exercises and variations with your own body that you were not able to do before.

       

      In Part 2 of the series we’ll spread these 10 exercise into 4 training templates to use in:

      • Gym routine/strength training
      • On vacation – The Vacation Body with zero equipment
      • Conditioning and Fat Loss Routine
      • Advanced Bodyweight Training

      What’s your favorite bodyweight exercise?

      More by this author

      3 Keys to Success in Life (That Will Change You in 2019) Bodyweight Workouts Part 2: Inclusion of the Exercises 10 Best Bodyweight Exercises – Part 1: Mastery of the Exercises

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      Last Updated on February 18, 2019

      13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

      13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

      Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

      Why is this so critically important to you?

      The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

      Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

      1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

      Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

      When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

      • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
      • The man facing the judge.
      • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
      • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
      • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
      • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

      These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

      Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

      Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

      2. Accept Your Fear

      Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

      We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

      And here’s what can be done.

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      3. Get Some Perspective

      I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

      And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

      That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

      We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

      So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

      • Are you really at risk?
      • Will this kill you?
      • Which leads us on to..
      • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

      4. Hold a Hand

      As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

      Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

      We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

      Ask yourself:

      • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
      • Could that really happen?
      • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
      • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

      By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

      5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

      This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

      Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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      The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

      It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

      For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

      Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

      6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

      I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

      Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

      Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

      Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

      Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

      Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

      7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

      Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

      I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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      It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

      One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

      Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

      It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

      8. Assume the Worse

      If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

      Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

      • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
      • Think about how they feel about champagne?
      • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

      And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

      When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

      Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

      9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

      If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

      Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

      Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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      10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

      One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

      11. Go with Fear

      When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

      I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

      Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

      One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

      However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

      We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

      12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

      And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

      The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

      What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

      13. Own Your Fear

      Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

      We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

      You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

      More Resources About Fighting Fear

      Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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