I often get asked can I get Mighty without a gym? OK, they don’t actually say that but it’s often something like can I get a great physique with bodyweight training? Or as my friend Miguel asked the other day I only have 10 kg Dbs, what can I do? Well the honest answer is no! No you can’t get a great physique with bodyweight only training; and sorry Mig but 10 kg Dbs aren’t going to be much help to you.
But sometimes using your body as resistance is all you might have, and something is better than nothing; but we can only do so much with changing levers in order to make things more challenging. Lets use the most famous of all bodyweight resistance exercises as an example – the Push Up (Press Up in the UK).
There are 2 main ways of manipulating body position in order to perform a Push Up for a beginner; the trainee can either do what’s called a Box Push Up which is performed off the knees, or an elevated Push Up where the trainee performs a Push Up with their hands on an elevated surface, like the side of a bath for example.
Once the target number of sets and reps is performed then the trainee finds an implement which is closer to the floor on which to do their Push Ups, a foot stool for example. This type of progression will continue until the trainee can perform said sets and reps in a classic Push Up – or will it? What if goals are not met? With the Push Up we are lucky in that we still have many tougher variations to master. We can increase the height of the trainees feet in order to add resistance cumulating with the Hand Stand Push Up demonstrated by Nick here –
This kind of progression holds true with the Squat also; once very low bodyweight box Squats are achieved for said sets and reps the trainee can once again increase the height of the box but now use only 1 leg, and then set about reducing the box height again. Sounds good in practice doesn’t it; no doubt an athlete who could perform the following must be incredibly strong and well conditioned –
I have to admit the Steve Cotter is such an athlete but for most people with a goal of significantly changing their body 1 Leg Squats won’t be enough; there just isn’t the loading which is eventually needed in order to stress the body as a whole. Simply put, the 1 Leg Squat is a great leg exercise but a weighted 2 footed heavy Squat is a whole body exercise.
The Mighty Paul Anderson; even though he performed Hand Stand Push Ups while weighing over 400lbs he needed much more than bodyweight training to become one of the strongest men who ever lived.
So what would I recommend to Miguel and many others? As always it depends; if you really can’t do anything else, then do what you can keeping the above principles in mind. But if you do have a decent gym nearby but you’re short of time then why not perform 1 whole body session at the gym concentrating on Squats and Presses, and supplement this with 2-3 bodyweight session when you can’t use the gym.
Remember do what you can with whatever you have.