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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

      Eirik Forlie

      Consultant, Coach and Business Owner based in Norway.

      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 March 13, 2019

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

      1. Work on the small tasks.

      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

      2. Take a break from your work desk.

      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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      3. Upgrade yourself

      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

      4. Talk to a friend.

      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

      7. Read a book (or blog).

      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

      8. Have a quick nap.

      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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      9. Remember why you are doing this.

      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

      10. Find some competition.

      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

      11. Go exercise.

      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

      12. Take a good break.

      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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