One thing I have learned as a Trainer is there are many methods to training, but principles are few. One trainer may like bodyweight stuff, while another uses kettlebells. I subscribe to no specific style of training, except hard work. The truth is, there is no perfect program and if you want to get somewhere, there is no quicker way than hard work. I will use kettlebells, dumbbells, machines, bodyweight, TRX, ropes, bands, barbells, sandbags, tires, etc to get the effect I want. All those tools provide me with variety and help break up the monotony of training. Let me tell you, it ALL works. Work people in ranges of motion they can control and vary the tool or apparatus and you WILL get a training effect.
Free weights vs. Bodyweight
Free weights are a great way to train the muscles and allow many benefits. I love bench press because it keeps you more stable and allows for more overload where as the bodyweight push up allows more core and trains the stabilizers. It all comes down to physics, for example if you weigh 150 lbs and do a full bodyweight push up, you have to support probably close to 80-90% of your bodyweight, let's say 120 lbs of your total 150. That force is distributed through both your arms and for convenience lets says close to 50 lbs per arm. That would equate to 50 lb dumbbells in each hand, or close to a 100 lb bench press. How many of you ladies scoff at the bench press as a “manly” exercise and prefer plank holds and push ups on knees? I say put the weights on and get stronger! That will make your body feel lighter and allow you to progress to a harder version. Weights don’t necessarily make you bigger they make you stronger.
Won’t I get bigger? I just want to tone up!
Tone is a misnomer. I don’t know where people got their information, but muscles don’t get longer, slimmer, sexier, or more toned. Muscles can get stronger, weaker, smaller or bigger. You don’t want to be weak; strength is the foundation of movement. If you don’t have strength or stability in a joint, you will likely get injured. Most people (guys included) don’t have to worry about getting too big, because to tell you the truth, gaining muscle mass is probably the hardest thing to do. Also it takes a dedicated nutrition plan, and lots of consistent hard work to put considerable amounts of muscle on. The best way to get toned is to get stronger. You get stronger by lifting heavier weights or increasing the resistance. Of course you should learn perfect technique before you load on weight. Ladies don’t have to worry because unless you take steroids you will never get big like you see in some of those magazines. Women don’t have high levels of testosterone, which is a major anabolic hormone.
What should I do?
The best exercises are the ones that work the total body, are multi-joint, compound lifts. These allow you the most bang for your buck, because they work the entire body and allow you to load on weights to get stronger. This strength can then be used during circuit style training, which gives you a strength reserve to tap into. That means more work done because things are easier when you’re stronger. This is good because the more work you do the more calories you burn. Some examples include deadlift variations, squat variations, rows, bench, and shoulder press. Some notable bodyweight lifts are pull ups, 1 arm push ups, pistol squats, handstands and V-ups.
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