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Build Your Best Physique: Bodyweight Workout

Phase 1 of Build Your Best Physique workout has you mainly performing traditional, no-frills exercises easily done in most gyms. But I often get questions pertaining to how to modify workouts when certain equipment isn’t available or because of crowded gyms. Additionally, many want bodyweight alternatives when on the road or training at home.

With all that said, a common follow-up question is if one could actually build any significant amount of muscle with bodyweight training. Will it be worth your while to perform a few bodyweight moves in order to shore-up your training when the availability of weight training equipment just isn’t a reality? Can bodyweight training be challenging enough to overload the muscle or muscle group in order to induce a substantial training effect?

The short answer is yes. But how do we go about making some relatively “easy” exercises into muscle-building tools that could potentially rival more traditional gym moves? The answer lies in progressive measures. That is, modifying bodyweight exercises in order to make them more challenging for a training overload. But first, let’s take a look at a couple of ways we can plug in bodyweight training.

Total Bodyweight Training

Some may want to perform bodyweight-only training when on the road or for home workouts. This isn’t just an effective way to train it’s also a great mindset to possess. Why? Because if you have an effective, efficient, and mobile training program at your disposal then you instantly avoid the stress of finding a gym while on the road. You’ll feel confident in the fact that you’ll always be able to train wherever you are.

Adding in Bodyweight Training

Another great practice to adopt is to substitute in some key bodyweight moves into your existing traditional program for a new challenge. Bodyweight moves such as dips and push ups can be great finishers after the big weighted moves are out of the way. They also teach you more balance and stability to make you whole-body strong which will assist on improving other exercises too.

Progressive Bodyweight Training Plan

What we’ll do now is take the Phase 1 workout and unpack it with bodyweight substitutes. We’ll also look at progressions (making the move harder for those who need more of a challenge) and regressions (making the move easier for those who need to start with more of a learning curve). Simply choose one substitute per traditional move for your next workout.

Incline bench dumbbell press, flat bench dumbbell press, incline bench barbell press

Progressions:

Feet-elevated push up
Weighted push up (weight plate on back)
Banded push up (band end in each hand and over shoulders)
Banded chest fly (band around upright and in each hand),

Regressions:

Standard push up on floor
Hands on bench or elevated bar push up
Push up on knees
Push up against wall

Medium-grip pull-up, bent-over barbell row, narrow grip cable row

Progressions:

Weighted pull up/chin up
Feet-elevated rack row (can also be weighted with plate in lap)
Slow cadence pull up (2 to 4 second up and down)
Pull up and hold (for a 4 to 6 second count)

Regressions:

Banded pull up (band looped around pull up bar and foot)
Partner or bench-assisted pull up (feet on bench for an assist)
Rack row with feet on floor

Barbell back squat, barbell-loaded lunge, leg press, leg curl

Progressions:

One-and-a-half rep bodyweight squat
One-and-a-half rep walking lunge
Alternating bodyweight squat and squat jump
Pistol squat

Regressions:

Bodyweight squat
Walking lunge
Front-foot elevated lunge
Half rep squat

Seated calf raise, standing calf raise

Progressions:

One-and-a-half rep single leg calf raise
Slow cadence calf raise (4 second up and down)
One-minute jump rope

Regressions:

Single leg calf raise
Double leg calf raise

Seated dumbbell shoulder press, standing barbell shoulder press

Progressions:

Handstand push up
Banded lateral raise (band in each hand and under feet)
Banded face pull
Pike push up

Regressions:

Banded shoulder press (band in each hand and under feet)
Pike push up with hands om bench

Parallel bar triceps dip

Progressions:

One-and-a-half rep dip
Weighted parallel dip
Bench dip with feet on bench
Diamond hand push up with feet on bench

Regressions:

Diamond hand push up on floor
Band assisted dip
Bench dip with feet on floor

Barbell curl

Progressions:

Reverse-grip chin up
Rack curls (under bar curl up)

Regressions:

Banded curls

Ready to Start?

Whether you go bodyweight training full-tilt or you just want to put a few into your existing routine give a few of these moves a try and challenge your self to progress. Don’t forget to leave a comment below. Good luck!

***

List of the entire program:

Best Physique Introduction

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

Bodyweight options

By Brad Borland

Cancer Survivor, Military Veteran, University Lecturer, Strength Coach, Natural Drug-Free Bodybuilder, Husband, Father

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