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9 Reasons Why Bodyweight Training Rocks

9 Reasons Why Bodyweight Training Rocks

There’s no doubt about it: there are a lot of people out there who would argue that without question, training with weights is the best way to get fit and strong, fast.

In fact, the majority of the fitness world treats bodyweight training as far less superior than heavy weight training, reserved only for traveling, coming back from an injury, or exercise newbies.

But there’s another group of people—people like Paul Wade, author of Convict Conditioning, and Al Kalvaldo, bodyweight and calisthenics expert, as well as the impressive feats of athletes like Barstarzz—who are proving that calisthenics are making a comeback. As masters of exercises like one-arm pull-ups, single-leg squats and one-arm handstand push-ups, these fitness fanatics are proving that bodyweight training is not just for wimps.

Here are 9 reasons why bodyweight training rocks:

1. It requires minimal to no equipment

Unlike most other forms of exercise, all you need to do bodyweight training is your own bodyweight—and maybe a pull-up bar or some dip bars. This gives you the freedom to work out in your local park (many city parks have pull-up bars to use—or the monkey bars at a kid’s playground work just fine), or even just in your own home.

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This is a huge plus for anyone who travels often, doesn’t have access to a gym, or just plain likes to be able to work out anywhere, any time.

2. It’s 100% free

Gym memberships these days can range from $25 a month at a chain gym like 24 Hour Fitness to $200 or more at a CrossFit gym. For anyone on a budget, that’s a huge monthly expense!

Switching to bodyweight training means you no longer have to pay your monthly gym dues, since all of a sudden your entire workout is free.

3. It helps your body move like it was supposed to

You’ve probably heard a lot about functional fitness, a type of workout that helps you move better in real life and in sports, these days.

And there’s no doubt about it, bodyweight training is the ultimate form of functional fitness, since it helps you develop useful athletic abilities that can benefit you no matter what you’re doing—whether you’re climbing a tree, lifting a suitcase over your head in an airplane, or playing with your kids at the playground.

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Better yet, since bodyweight training means you’ll be moving your body the way it was designed to move, you’ll move better in all areas of your life.

4. It makes you a better athlete

If you do any other sports aside from your workouts, you probably need to run, jump, twist, lunge, squat, pull, or press, if not all of the above.

And since bodyweight training helps your body move the way it wants to move naturally, all the bodyweight exercises you learn to do will help you tremendously in whatever sport you do, and make you a better, stronger and more efficient athlete overall.

5. It protects your joints and keeps you injury-free

To be strong all over, you need to not only have strong muscles, but also strong joints. And because bodyweight training works the joints and tendons as they are meant to be worked, it helps to create strong joints and tendons for life—and helps protect you from injuries.

One of the reasons that so many bodybuilders end up with joint issues in their shoulders, wrists, knees, or neck is that the joints of the body are simply not designed to deal with heavy loads of weight training. But calisthenics can prevent these all too common injuries by helping to strengthen your joints and tendons as well as your muscles.

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6. It maximizes strength

Getting strong isn’t all about how much weight you can lift, press, or pull—it’s also about how strong your joints and tendons are. And since bodyweight training works your joints like they’re meant to be worked, calisthenics can help develop greater strength and power than weight training alone.

Plus, since bodyweight movements use multiple muscle groups at once, bodyweight training helps the body learn to work together as a whole, making your body more efficient overall and as strong as possible for your build.

7. It’s a cool party trick

Have you ever seen someone do a one-arm push-up, a freestanding handstand, or even a pistol in person? It’s a pretty impressive feat—and will no doubt amaze your friends.

So while I would never recommend switching to bodyweight training just to impress your friends, it’s certainly a plus.

8. It builds muscle (yes, really)

When most people think of bodyweight training, they don’t associate it with building muscle—you need heavy weights for that, right? Wrong.

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If you stick to light, modified versions of bodyweight exercises, that’s all too true. But if you constantly push yourself to master harder versions of bodyweight exercises—going from the standard push-up to one-arm push-ups, from the basic air squat to a one-legged squat (also called a pistol), and regularly including handstand push-ups and harder versions of pull-ups into your routine—your body will turn into a muscle building machine.

9. It regulates body fat

Take a look at a lot of bodybuilders and participants of endurance athletics these days, and you’ll notice a trend: not all of them are as lean as you might imagine for someone doing so much exercise. That’s because when you’re constantly overloading your body with intense exercise, the natural result is that you get hungry—and unfortunately, you don’t always burn more calories than you eat with that type of training.

Because excess weight makes bodyweight training harder, however, your natural tendency will be to slim down and lose body fat to make the training easier and more efficient. As a plus, since the training is easier on your body, your appetite will level off and you’ll start eating the right amount for your body.

So find a pull-up bar, some dip bars, or just use your own body and get training in calisthenics today. You’ll not only get stronger, leaner, and more muscular—you’ll also become a better, healthier athlete overall.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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