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Reddit Bodyweight Exercises

Can Bodyweight Exercises Build Muscle?

As a Men’s Health reader, we know what you’re thinking. Those impressive benefits are all well and good, but if you can’t grow bursting-through-your-t-shirt muscle, what’s the point? Hold fire before you head to the squat rack, because when it comes to muscle hypertrophy (i.e. getting stacked) science has shown bodyweight exercises to be as effective as weights. Genuinely.

Muscle growth “can occur independent of an external load,” research published in Physiology & Behaviour concluded, so long as you perform bodyweight exercises through their full range of motion. And in a study by the University of Valencia, press-ups were found to be as effective as bench presses for building strength. So, when it comes to building muscle, there’s really no need to keep adding more weight to your barbell.

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Video

Horizontal Pushing

One Arm Pushup Progression

Push-Up

Get into a Plank position, with your hands directly below your shoulders. Lower yourself so that your chest touches the ground, and push yourself back up. The core should be tight, keeping the body straight. The elbows should be kept back if possible, do not allow them to splay out more than 45 degrees from the body.

Diamond Push-Up

Perform a push-up as described above, but with your hands close together so that your thumb and forefinger form a diamond. If you have trouble doing this, start with a regular push-up, and gradually move your hands closer together over the course of many workouts.

One Arm Push-Ups on Stairs

This is a very good progression for one arm push-ups. Find a staircase, and place one hand on a stair that is slightly lower than shoulder height. The hand you use should be either directly under your shoulder, or under your chest, whichever you prefer. Perform a push-up using only this hand, making sure to keep the body straight. After the stair you are on gets too easy(over the course of a few workouts), move down to the next stair and start over. If you have trouble transitioning between two stairs, see Straddle One Arm Push-Ups.

Straddle One Arm Push-Ups

This movement can be done on the floor or the stairs. Perform a one arm push-up as described above, but with your legs spread out. This changes the force required to do the movement, making it easier. It is a great movement to if you are having trouble transitioning between two progressions. To progress to the next movement, work on moving your legs closer together each workout.

One Arm Push-Up

Get into a plank position and put one arm behind your back (because it looks cool). Slowly lower yourself to the ground, and push back up. If your form sucks at first, that's normal. Work on keeping your core tight and your body straight.

Making Things Interesting

Most of these movements can be done on gymnastics rings, which will make them considerably more of a challenge. If rings are not an option, consider adding weight. Weighted dips and weighted pull ups are some of the best upper body movements around.

Pair 3:

Push-ups:

I have a tutorial covering the Push-up in depth (here). For brevity and to avoid repeating myself a lot, you can read about it there and I will just provide the progressions that are listed in the routine here with GIFs

Incline Push-ups:

  • Go on as high or as low of an object to make it as easy or hard as you need it do be, but don’t go needlessly high. It should still be hard.

Push-ups:

  • Refer to the form points in the tutorial

Decline Push-ups:

  • Be aware that you may not be able to get your chest to the floor. Do not arch to get your chest to the floor. Just go chin to floor or do them on push-up bars to get deeper.

Ring Push-up:

  • Even though its not ‘RTO’, turn the rings out at the top of every rep, just don’t maintain the turnout through the movement.

RTO Push-up:

  • Maintain the turnout throughout the whole movement.

RTO PPPU and PPPU:

  • Lean forward, protract the shoulders, maintain a hollow. Rings should come down by your hips, or closer to your hips than your chest.

(Excuse the lack of RTU PPPU Gif. I could not do one with very good form as I have never trained them)

Rows:

I briefly explain how to do the first two progressions of rows at home with a Table if you do not have access to a bar or rings in my Pull-up Tutorial (here).

Incline Rows/Bent Leg Rows:

  • Come up more onto your feet/come to an incline if you are using rings
  • Bend your legs if you are using a bar or a table
  • Or do both. E.g. if you are using a bar rig for rings which you cannot lean so far back on without it tipping, so you incline a bit, but then also bend your legs.

Ground Rows/Straight Body Rows

  • Stay flat close to the ground if using rings with a straight body
  • Straighten your legs if you are using a bar or table, keep a straight body.
  • Pull the rings or table to your chest

Once those get easy, or if you don’t want to do Wide Rows, you can do them at a decline as well, so that your body is straight at the top of the row rather than the bottom:

Wide Rows

  • Same thing as above but pulling wider.

Tuck FL

  • Prerequisite: Elbows to Knees Leg raises –> Tuck Front Lever Raises
  • Stay parallel to the ground. Record yourself if necessary.

Tuck FL Icecream Makers:

  • Chin over the bar at the top every rep
  • Lock out at the bottom
  • Keep your back parallel to the ground

Tuck FL Rows:

Adv Tuck FL Rows:

Reddit Bodyweight Fitness Recommended Routine

The complete structure of this workout routine looks like this:-

  1. Warm up
  • Dynamic stretches
  • Joint prep
  • Movement practice
  1. Strength work
  • 6 exercises targeting different major muscle groups of your upper and lower body.
  • 3 exercises that will be performed in a triplet to enhance your core strength.

You have to follow the below-mentioned exercising protocol. Your Reddit Bodyweight Workout Routine will look like this.

Warm-Up- Dynamic Stretches (5-10 Min)

Warm-Up- Dynamic Stretches (5-10 Min)

Exercises

Reps

Notes

Yuri’s shoulder band warm-up

5-10

You can also use your t-shirt to perform these.

Squat Sky Reaches

5-10

They can also be performed in an assisted manner.

GMB wrist prep

10+

Perform as many reps as you want.

Deadbugs

30 seconds

Once you reach negative pull-ups you can add deadbugs.

Arch hangs

10

Support hold

30 seconds

Once you reach negative dips, you can perform support holds.

Easier squat progression

10

You can add these after performing Bulgarian Split Squats.

Easier hinge progression

10

You can perform these after reaching Banded Nordic curls.

Strength Work (40-60 Minutes)

 

First Pair

Exercises

Sets x Reps

Notes

Pull-up progression

3 x 5-8

You need to perfect your basic squat form so that in the coming time you can progress with barbell squats.

Squat progression

3 x 5-8

Second Pair

Dip progression

3 x 5-8

Focus on perfecting hinge progression, so that you can perform them weighted using a bar.

Hinge progression

3 x 5-8

Third Pair

Row progression

3 x 5-8

Perform them with a full range of motion.

Push-up progression

3 x 5-8

Core Triplet

Anti-extension progression

3 x 8-12

 

Anti-rotation progression

3 x 8-12

Extension progression

3 x 8-12

 Notes

  • Instructions

The nine exercises mentioned above are to be performed in pairs or triplets so that your workout will wrap up in a shorter span of time. While pairing two exercises you would be doing a set of the first exercise then take rest for 90 seconds, then do a set of the second exercise, again rest for 90 seconds. You have to repeat this until all the 3 sets are completed. If you are choosing to go with a triplet, you would perform single sets of three exercises taking 60 seconds of rest in between, and will continue like this till all the 3 sets are completed.

  • Rest time

It is recommended that you rest for at least 90 seconds between your sets. You can even rest for 3 minutes if 90 seconds is insufficient for you.

  • Tempo

You will be performing these exercises with a “10×0” or (1,0, X,0) tempo. These numbers represent the time taken on the way down/pause at the bottom/on the way up and pause at the top while performing your reps. Following the Reddit Bodyweight Workout Routine, you will take a duration of 1 second on your way down with no pause at the bottom. Then you will explode (X) your way up and continue completing your reps without taking any pause at the top.

  • Progression

Since this program basically relies on your own body weight making it more difficult for ensuring effective progressive resistance is a bit tricky. In that case, you would be fine-tuning the bodyweight movements to suit your strength levels. For instance, if you are weak at performing regular push-ups, you can choose to go with incline pushups. Similarly, if you find regular push-ups too easy, then you should try your hands at ring pushups, diamond push-ups, pseudo-planche push-ups, decline push-ups, etc. This will ensure that progressive resistance is provided throughout the workout routine.

  • Choose one suitable progression exercise depending on your current strength levels. Then in your first session, perform 3 sets of 5 reps of that exercise. From the next session onwards, keep on increasing 1 rep per set until you get strong enough to perform 3 sets of 8 reps with strict form. Afterward, proceed to the next progression following the same protocol of performing 3 sets of 5 reps.
  • Exercises that include static holds like the tuck front lever have sets that consist of holding the position firmly for 10-30 seconds. Now once you are able to hold that position for 30 seconds for all 3 sets you can proceed to the next progression which will be more difficult.
  • If you are unable to follow the main progression due to the unavailability of certain equipment or if you are skeptical about the main progression, you can go with the alternatives to do it.
  • The rest time mentioned in this program promotes 99% replenishment of ATP in the muscles that limit fatigue in the muscles. This further helps in maximizing both volume and effort level that serve as the foundation stone for your strength and hypertrophy oriented goals.

Reddit Bodyweight Workout Routine Spreadsheet

The Reddit Bodyweight Workout Routine Spreadsheet provided below will provide you with detailed and descriptive information about the program. Apart from the normal sets and reps scheme that you would be required to perform following this training protocol, this excel sheet also guides you about the movements you are required to perform.

In general, this Google sheet is broadly divided into three subheadings namely dynamic stretches, strength work, and core work. The dynamic stretches will aid in stretching up your muscles so that the chances of injury is minimized.

The strength work under this training protocol includes progressions that are performed in 3 sets of 5-8 repetitions in each set. This aids in building your strength on bodyweight movements like push-ups, chin-ups, dips, hinge, row, and squat. These bodyweight movements are performed in various ways that make them more challenging. This spreadsheet will guide you thoroughly about what variations you need to include in performing those bodyweight exercises.

The credit for the creation of this spreadsheet goes to

Download

How Progressions Work

  • You cannot adjust the difficulty of bodyweight exercises like with weight training by simply adding or removing plates of weight. Therefore, in order to effectively increase or decrease the difficulty, you need to use different variations of a type of exercise. For an example in the push-up progression, some people may find a push-up on its own too difficult, and some may find it too easy. Therefore, variations of the pushup exist to make it easer (e.g. incline push-ups) or harder (decline, diamond, ring, pseudo planche etc. push-ups) so that you can pick a variation that is appropriate to your strength level, rather than simply doing an exercise that may be far too easy to make you get stronger, or far too hard to do properly.

  • When you get to the strength training, you will be greeted with progression exercises listed in order of increasing difficulty. Pick an appropriately difficult progression for your current level of strength, and perform 3 sets of 5 reps of that progresssion on your first session. In subsequent sessions you should try to add one rep per set until you are performing 3 sets of 8 reps with good form. From here you should move on to the next progression, but again at 3 sets of 5 reps. Note that this means that you only perform one of the exercises from each of the listed progressions in each session. Once you move up in the progression, there's no need to keep the easier exercises in your routine (except for using it as a warm-up if you feel like it).

  • Some of the exercises are static holds, such as the support holds or the "tuck front lever" in the rowing progression. Instead of dynamic reps, one set here consists of simply holding the position statically for 10-30 seconds. Move on to the next harder progression once you hit 30 seconds for all 3 sets.

  • You'll see there are multiple "progression paths" for the exercises. However, don't overthink this – if you're not sure pick the main progression and do it. If for some reason you can't follow the main progression (lack of specific equipment, for example) then pick one of the alternatives and do it.

Overwhelmed? You may prefer starting with the Minimalist Routine.

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