The Bodyweight Strength Program
Instructional Videos and Specific Instructions for each exercise:
This is a classic exercise for overall strength, especially chest, arms, and shoulders, as well as core strength and total integration from head to toe. It is typically done incorrectly with the elbows flailing out to the side. Be diligent with form!
✓ Your elbows SHOULD be close to your body, pointing down and back.
✓ Your body should be straight from head to feet.
✓ Keep your legs straight, locking out your quads, and glutes.
✓ Keep the glutes TIGHT! If you “LOSE” THE GLUTES, you place excessive stress on the low back. *DO NOT LOSE the tension in the glutes. SQUEEEEEEEEEZE!
✓ The most common error other than a jelly-like butt, is to have the butt too high. Look in a mirror to ensure an absolute straight bodyline.
✓ Keep your head in line with your spine.
✓ Keep your feet together and squeeze them tightly. Feet together!
This is a compound pulling movement that is easier than a pull-up and engages your entire trunk including your arms and hands. (Yes, as you gain strength, you will transition to a pull-up. Master the chin up first).
You need a bar high enough so you can bring your legs off the floor. Make sure to follow the direction I give you in the video – start where you ARE and go from there!
Grab the bar and then engage your back (pack your shoulders by pulling / pinching your shoulder blades together and pulling your shoulders away from your ears) fully before raising your feet up off of the floor.
Remember, IF YOU ARE UNABLE to perform a chin up as described you have options. Watch and learn from the video!
Need an idea for a Chin Up substitute when you’re traveling or away from your gym or workout studio? Check out this video where you’ll find some ideas and helpful tips!
The “Table Bridge” is a great movement for strengthening the entire posterior “chain” of the body, especially glutes, hamstrings, shoulders and mid/upper back.
It is also a more challenging version of a regular basic glute bridge. If you haven’t already, make sure you review and master the basic bridge which is part of “RESTORE: The Foundation Program,” which is also here on the site.
In that basic bridge, you’ll learn all about the essential elements that will make THIS Table Bridge easier and better.
Remember, you’ll need a mini-band for this movement, too! It’s essential to get the most from the exercise.
Performing this movement correctly builds a great “hip hinge” pattern which can be used in the future for deadlifting and swinging the kettlebell, among many other movements!
Your goal is to have a 90-degree angle at your knees when into a fully extended position, so adjust your feet accordingly when you set up the exercise.
Your hands could be turned out or turned in, either is fine. Use the hand position that is most comfortable for you.
To begin, position your legs and hands correctly and gradually lift your body off of the ground.
✓ Actively press your feet into the ground and your hands into the ground, and then slowly raise your hips UP and extend fully all of the way to the highest position you can, squeezing your glutes, hamstrings, arms and core. Hold and squeeze.
✓ Keep your trunk stable, like a rock-solid “piece of steel.” No rolling, or loosey-goosey midsection here! J
✓ Lower yourself until your butt almost touches the ground and then transition smoothly back up.
✓ Unless you’re at Level 1, do NOT rest or pause at the bottom. Keep your muscles TIGHT and tense and keep the movement continuous.
PIKE PUSH UP
This exercise is a “vertical” pushing movement which loads the shoulders and arms and is very different from a horizontal pushing movement like the classic push up.
For this exercise, you’re in a “pike” position – hips flexed and “high,” and legs straight and locked out. (If you’re like me and you lack the necessary hamstring flexibility to straighten fully, a very slight bend is ok).
Keep your head in line with your spine, and attempt to get your feet flat on the ground for the start of the movement. As you lower, your heels will rise.
MAKE SURE the surface you are using provides good traction so you do not slip and fall. Maintain the tension and the focus. This is a HARD EXERCISE to do correctly!
CALF / HEEL RAISE
To perform this exercise, you’ll need a secure step that you should place the balls of your feet on. It’s ok to hold onto something for balance, but do keep your center of mass over your feet and don’t lean on or hang on what you are using for balance.
Progression of this exercise is slightly different than the other movements, in that the direction is toward unilateral (one leg) from two legs.
Push up HIGH on the toes and maintain that height, actively moving up and down throughout.
As you lower to the point where your feet are parallel, continue to lower until the point where you feel a gentle stretch. That’s your lowest point.
Importantly, PAUSE there in that stretched position very briefly, before moving continuously and reversing direction smoothly, pressing yourself back up to the highest position.
These are best done barefooted, however, if you find you need to wear shoes for comfort or safety reasons, you can certainly do that.
View and study the video for additional guidance and ask if you have questions about progression or regression to more or advanced levels.
THE BASIC BODYWEIGHT SQUAT
*NOTE: Even as you are learning this movement early on, it is a good idea to use a MINI BAND around your knees for added hip engagement and strength.
This compound movement is about as good as it gets for targeting the entire body, especially the hips, legs and core/trunk.
You will begin your progression with this exercise with the most basic version of it. It is my belief that athletes need to first demonstrate the ability to perform a BASIC squat well, before moving on to more advanced progressions such as the Hindu Squat, or the Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat.
You should begin by placing your feet slightly wider than hip-width, toes turned out slightly. Find a comfortable position and make sure you watch the video closely for technique tips.
Make sure you keep your knees tracking over your toes as you descend. This is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL to ensure you don’t train poor movement quality by allowing the knees to track inward toward the midline.
Also, important: Maintain the normal curvature (neutral) of your low back – do not allow it to round into what is commonly referred to as a “butt wink.” This places unnecessary stress on the spine and isn’t optimal. Engage your low ab and “stabilize”, maintaining the normal curve in the process. As soon as you feel yourself or see yourself losing the curve, stop. Go only as low as you can, maintaining a neutral low back position.
Lower down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. If you are unable to go this low with control, stop short of this position. Do the best you can, working on increasing the depth over time. Do NOT go below parallel. This is “not” a deep squat.
✓ Attempt to keep your trunk as UPRIGHT as possible. Avoid leaning forward as you drop down. If you find this is difficult, you will benefit from additional t-spine mobility. Work on this routinely with a foam roller and the help of a provider. Ask if you’re unsure.
✓ Your arms can be held in close to your chest or extended out to provide better balance. Either is ok.
✓ Keep your eyes up and look straight ahead, maintaining a neutral neck and head position.
✓ Keep your knees over your toes. Do NOT allow the knees to cave inward.
✓ Maintain tension in the legs, hips, trunk and core throughout!
✓ “Static stomp” your feet into the ground. Maintain firm pressure to engage the ground. *DO NOT LOSE the tension.
You NEED to bring the necessary focus and tension into this exercise in order to reap the benefits. It should almost be difficult to move once you’ve reached the bottom and require tremendous focus to reverse direction and start raising yourself up.
Watch and study the video for additional guidance.