I am often asked whether or not body weight exercises can make you stronger and bigger. It has always been assumed that body weight exercises only increase the stamina of your muscles. This is in and of itself a good thing, however, I am here to assert that body weight exercises can improve your strength and build muscle.
Let me explain. If you want to be a powerlifter and squat 700 pounds and deadlift 800 pounds then body weight exercises will only play a small role in your overal workout program. Body weight exercises exclusively will not propel you to achieve personal bests in your lifts. But just because bodyweight exercises won’t make you a world class powerlifter doesn’t mean they won’t make you stronger.
Body weight exercises create functional strength. One of the strongest people I have ever known never stepped foot in a weight room He would not be able to do heavy benches, squats or deadlifts. Much of this involves technique and some of the lifts done don’t have real world application. However, my friend owned functional strength. I believe bodyweight exercises help provide you with functional strength. But as we will see in a little while it can also provide you with weight room strength.
Here are four exercises that can be done with little or no equipment that can dramatically increase your strength.
One Leg Squat
This is often referred to as “the Pistol.” It is a pure strength exercise. Many people are not able to do this exercise due to the strength required. Others get excited because they were able to do it one time. Of course, I am talking about being able to do it 10+ times for 3 – 5 sets. Now as I mentioned many of you will not be able to do this initially. Therefore, you will have to find something to assist you. I would recommend standing beside a pole or a chair that you can grab onto to give yourself the needed boost to get out of the bottom of the exercise. Possibly the best way is to use a piece of rope attached to the ceiling of your garage or secured in a door that you can hold on to.
One Arm Push – Up
This is another exercise requiring great strength. Make sure to widen the base of your legs when doing this exercise or you just may tip over. Again the goal here is not to just be able to do 1 or 2. The goal is to perform this body weight exercises for multiple set of 10 – 15 reps. If you can work up to this you will find your strength increasing.
Pull – Ups
Pull ups are a fabulous strength exercise. If you want a big and strong back then pull ups are essential. If you get to the point where you can knock out 20 – 25 pull-ups in one set without a problem then go to the store and buy yourself a cheap backback. Load the backpack with 20 – 25 pounds of weight, strap it on and jum back on the pull-up bar. The added weight will make it more difficult. By the way, when doing pull-ups set yourself a goal and don’t stop till you reach it on matter how many sets it takes you to achieve it.
Handstand Push Up
This is another tremendous strength exercise. Kick your feet up against a wall with your back to the wall and lower yourself until your head touches the floor then raises yourself back to the starting position. If this is too difficult to start you can always do the tent version with your feet on the floor or a chair.
As you progress, I would recommend that you build some parallelettes that will allow you a greater range of motion. You can build them out of 2? PVC at very little cost.
So try these four exercises and watch your strength grow.