This is an excerpt from Bodyweight Strength by Bret Contreras.
The Bodyweight Advantage
Many folks absolutely love the prospect of being able to train efficiently in the convenience of their own home. Most fitness enthusiasts have gym memberships and have become highly dependent on machines and free weights to work their muscles. While I’m a huge proponent of using all types of resistance, bodyweight training is without a doubt the most convenient type of resistance. All you need is your own physical being, and you’ll never be without equipment or a facility and you’ll never need a spotter. In other words, if you learn to use your body as a barbell then you’ll always have the ability to obtain a great workout. You can gain tremendous functional fitness in terms of strength, power, balance, and endurance from progressive bodyweight training, and recent research shows that you can enhance your flexibility to the same or even a greater degree through resistance training than from a stretching routine.
I like to watch all types of athletes train. As a strength coach I’ve watched thousands of athletes lift weights. Two types of athletes have always stood out to me in terms of superior muscular control: gymnasts and bodybuilders. In awe, I watch the gymnast on the rings or the pommel horse maneuvering his body around the apparatus with precision. I watch the bodybuilder contract his or her muscles against the resistance with total concentration. When training with body weight, you want to learn from these athletes and develop a tremendous mind–muscle connection, which will allow you to achieve an amazing workout anywhere you go.
In this book I will teach you the best bodyweight exercises and show you the most effective way to combine them into cohesive programs consistent with your fitness goals. You will learn how to progress from the simplest variations to the most complicated and advanced bodyweight exercises. You will learn to use your abdominals and gluteals to lock your torso into position and create a stiff pillar of support while you move your limbs. You will become lean, limber, and athletic. Push-ups and pull-ups won’t intimidate you. Your glutes will function like never before, and the confidence you gain from this program will shine through in every aspect of your life.
You will never fear having subpar training sessions when you go on vacation because you’ll be able to perform an effective workout from the comfort of your hotel room. You’ll realize that you don’t need barbells, dumbbells, or elastic resistance bands. With sound knowledge of the biomechanics of bodyweight training, you can learn to create just as much force in the muscles as if performing heavy resistance training.
Better yet, you’ll save thousands on gym membership fees without compromising the quality of your workout. You can use these savings to make healthier food choices so you can realize even better results from your training. All in the comfort of your own home!
I was recently asked whether or not I believed that I could maintain my muscularity and fitness solely by performing bodyweight exercises. Without hesitation I answered, "Yes." As you progress to more difficult variations and increase the number of repetitions you perform with the various exercises, you will continuously challenge your neuromuscular system. Your body will respond by synthesizing more protein and laying down more muscle tissue. In essence, your body adapts by building a bigger engine. Recent studies have shown that high repetitions can provide a potent muscle-building stimulus, more so than most experts imagined. I’m glad you’ve decided to take the bodyweight challenge and learn how to manipulate your body to achieve a world-class workout. I’m glad that you’ve decided to no longer be a slave to the gym. Now the world is your gym and you are the resistance.
Learn more about Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy.