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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 October 15, 2019

      How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

      How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

      What is success to you? How to be successful in life?

      To some, when they think of success, they imagine wealth; others want power; some just want to make a positive impact on the world.

      All of these are perfectly valid, indeed success is a concept that means different things to different people. Though no matter what success is to you, it almost certainly isn’t something will come easily.

      There are countless guides and books to being successful, however, as success is personal and unique to each individual. The advice contained in these books can often not be relevant. Therefore following the advice of a single individual can often be unhelpful.

      With this in mind, considering the advice of a great many people, people whose ideas of success were different both to each other, and quite possibly, to you can be a good alternative.

      What follows is a list of thirteen of the best pieces of advice from some of the most successful people who have ever lived. If you want to learn how to be successful, these 13 tips are essential:

      1. Think Big

        From Michelangelo Buonarroti, Great Renaissance Artist:

        “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

        There are few artists as influential as Michaelangelo. Today centuries after his death, his work still inspires and connects to people. His work is world famous, just think of his statue of David, or the Mural in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

        Imagine then, if he decided not to work as an artist.

        Being a successful artist has always been extremely difficult, imagine if he decided to give up this ambition in favour of something easier?

        Oftentimes, people often decided to put their dreams aside for something more “realistic”. To give up their dream for something easier. This quote teaches us the danger of such a point of view.
        Instead be ambitious.

        2. Find What You Love to Do and Do It

          From Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul:

          “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it.”

          This is a good quote to remember and think about when you’re at work.

          Imagine being as successful as possible in your current job. Ultimately you’ll probably find yourself working extremely hard and this it will take up much of your time.

          If it’s a job you hate, then being successful at it might only mean filling your life with something you hate to do. What’s the sense in this?

          Instead, why not focus on doing something you love? When you’ve found what you’re passionate about, you get the motivation to keep you moving. Success at this means the fulfilment of your dreams.

          Not sure what your passion is yet? You should learn about this Motivation Engine first.

          Even if you’re not successful, you still filled your time with something you love to do. Many successful musicians spent years of their lives doing unpaid performances, the only reason they kept playing was because they loved to perform.

          3. Learn How to Balance Life

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            From Phil Knight, CEO of Nike Inc.:

            “There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.”

            All too often, people think that to be successful, they need to make the object of their success their life.

            If a person thinks their job will lead them to success, then they may spend countless hours per day, and well into the evening working hard.

            However this comes at the cost of rest, your health and having an enjoyable life. Ultimately they may burn out and cease to be successful at their job anyway.

            If success comes from having a strong social life and a good group of friends, their job may suffer; meaning that they may lose their job, and then be unable to afford going out with friends.

            In these ways, success, as Phil Knight says above, is helped by balance. Think of it as a balance between rest and work, or work and play.

            To achieve that balance, this Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life can help you.

            4. Do Not Be Afraid of Failure

              From Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors:

              “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

              There is a story, it’s unconfirmed whether it actually happened, yet the message within is none the less true:

              Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb was the result of several hundred failed attempts. In an interview, he was asked “How do you feel after all of your failed attempts?”

              His response was great, “I didn’t fail, I learned hundreds of ways not to invent the lightbulb”

              He saw each “failure” as a lesson. From that lesson he learned what won’t work, and also might work instead.

              Each failed attempt, each rejection, were key steps on his path to success. It is easy to feel like you should give up after a failure. But perhaps in that failure is a lesson.

              Pay attention to your failures, study them. Perhaps then you’ll learn how to succeed.

              If you find it difficult to fight your fear of failure, here’s a guide for you: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step)

              5. Have an Unwavering Resolution to Succeed

                From Colonel Sanders, Founder of KFC:

                “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”

                This, in many ways relates to the above quote about learning from your failures.

                It’s the easiest thing in the world to give up from a failure. The only way to push on is if you have the true burning desire to succeed, to not be moved or dissuaded from your goals.

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                If you are not truly dedicated towards success, then each failure will hurt more, each set back will slow you down.

                Success is hard; without the unwavering desire to succeed, this difficulty may seem insurmountable. With the desire, it is merely an obstacle to go through.

                6. Be a Person of Action

                  From Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance Genius:

                  “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

                  Though it was said hundreds of years ago, it works just as much today as it ever had. It applies to literally any successful person.

                  Think about it, picture someone like William Shakespeare:

                  When we think of the time he lived in, we think of the time in a way shaped by him. When we think of Renaissance era Italy, we think of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Or think about the present day, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Our current way of life would simply be incomparably different if they didn’t accomplish what they did.

                  You’re probably reading this article on a device by a company that they either founded or companies influenced by them.

                  All these figures were proactive, they saw ways to do things differently and did them. If they let the world shape them, then they’d simply fit into the background. Instead they shaped the world.

                  Applying this to you?

                  Don’t be afraid of going outside the norm. If you can think of a better way to do something, do it that way. If you fail, try again.

                  7. Cultivate Positive Relationships

                    From Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of America: “

                    The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

                    The best leaders and some of the most influential people (and Theodore Roosevelt is one of the best leaders and one of the most influential people to have lived) were not those who caused commotions, who fought with people or disregarded people; but were people who were friendly to those around them.

                    People liked them. They wanted them to do well.

                    This is key to good leadership.

                    It’s logical. If someone likes you, they want to help you; if you give them a suggestion, they’ll gladly follow through with it.

                    But if someone doesn’t like you, they may either refuse to help or actively get in your way.

                    What’s more, it’s always a good idea to cultivate good relationships. You can never tell who will prove to become someone who’ll be able to help you in a big way, or even be a good and supportive friend.

                    As such, help people and they may help you; and be good to people, and they my be good to you.

                    8. Don’t Be Afraid of Introducing New Ideas

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                      From Mark Twain, Famed Author:

                      “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

                      It is an unfortunate truth that those with the boldest ideas are often disregarded.

                      Most of us are taught from an early age to think and do things similarly to everyone else. This can be great to fill an existing role. But to truly do things differently (and all successful people did things differently), you need to think differently.

                      If you have a new idea, don’t throw it away because it’s new and different; instead, celebrate it. Your strange new idea might one day be the one that leads you to success.

                      9. Believe in Your Capacity to Succeed

                        From Walter Disney, Founder of Walt Disney Company:

                        “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

                        Success has to be something you can imagine yourself achieving.

                        It is possible that you will come across those who doubt you and your ability to succeed. You must not become one of these people because the moment you cease believing and dreaming is the moment these dreams fall away.

                        Keep dreaming!

                        10. Always Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude

                          From Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of America:

                          “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

                          Like the above quote says, you need to trust in your ability to succeed. This is the only way to cultivate the right mindset.

                          Replace negative thoughts with the positive ones. You need to approach problems, not as obstacles stopping you, but merely tasks that need to be completed for you to keep going.

                          If you stay positive and think like this, setbacks won’t affect you so much, people’s doubts won’t impact you and even the biggest obstacles will seem like minor problems.

                          However with the wrong mindset of doubt, you’ll be much easier to stop.

                          11. Don’t Let Discouragement Stop You from Pressing On

                            From Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of America:

                            “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”

                            It is an unfortunate fact of human nature — all of us in some way, doubt ourselves. This can be made far worse if others doubt us too.

                            When surrounded by doubts, giving up can actually seem like a good idea.

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                            Don’t pay attention to the doubts. If you are discouraged, ignore it.

                            If this discouragement moves into your mind and you begin to doubt yourself. It is important to ignore this too.

                            This is How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck and How to Overcome It

                            12. Be Willing to Work Hard

                              From JC Penny, Founder of JC Penney Inc.:

                              “Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.”

                              You might have heard the quote that “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” or you may have heard about the 10,000 hours idea.

                              Whichever way you frame it, they say one thing:

                              True success comes from work.

                              You’ll never become successful if you don’t work towards your goal in life and keep working towards it.

                              Check out this article and you’ll understand Why Hard Work Beats Talent.

                              13. Be Brave Enough to Follow Your Intuition

                                From Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Inc.:

                                “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

                                In ancient Greece, there was a group of Oracles who lived in Delphi. Everyone who needed advice or to know their future visited them, from the poorest of society to kings. Above the doorway of the temple were the words “know thyself”.

                                If you strongly believe and desire something, chances are that you already have an idea how to get there. If not, you may naturally know what things will help you and what things will slow you down.

                                It’s like how your body can detect danger even when things seem safe.

                                Ultimately then, you need to trust your own instincts.

                                Final Thoughts

                                What you might have noticed is that many of the above lessons are similar — most are about developing the right state of mind. This clearly suggests that the key to achieving success, in whatever you wish, comes down to the way you approach it mentally.

                                Moreover, no matter what stage of life you’re at now, you can still make a difference and pursue success. You can make resetting your life possible when you do this: How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

                                More to Help You Succeed in Life

                                Featured photo credit: Ryan Wong via unsplash.com

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