The Four Core Exercises in Endurance Upper-Body Work

When people think of endurance sports like biking or running, they often imagine that leg muscles do most of this work. While it is true that the legs are the power behind the propulsion, neglecting the upper body in endurance sports is a recipe for disaster. Having a strong core and upper-body strength drives added stability, balance, and energy to the legs, enabling more efficient movement and injury prevention.

 As an endurance triathlete, I’m a big fan of body-weight exercises with minimal equipment that you can do anywhere. So, here are my top pics for the best four core upper-body exercises that don’t require a gym.

Pull Ups

female_pullup1 There is a reason that this is a test in the US armed forces to determine overall strength; this exercise utilizes many important muscle groups in the entire upper portion of the body. Pull ups work the truck, or latissimus dorsi muscles. However, you will also feel it in your arms, shoulders, abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, hands and forearms. These are all muscles that will help stabilize your form and power you through endurance sports. If you are new to this, you may want to use a pull-up assist machine or have a spotter hold your feet to take some weight off your arms. However, if you are able to easily knock out 20 reps, more weight can be added to a belt around your waist to increase the intensity. You can also switch to one-arm pull ups or muscle ups (moving from a pull up position to an above-the bar dip) for an extra challenge.

 Proper Technique:

  1. Grab the bar with your hands facing forward about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bring your torso back around 30 degrees. You do this by sticking your chest out and curving your lower back slightly.
  3. Bring your torso up so the bar touches your chest while exhaling by drawing your shoulders and upper arms down and back.
  4. After holding the position for a second, inhale and slowly lower your body back to the starting position with your arms fully extended.
  5. Do as many reps as you can with proper form before you fatigue the muscle, or you can do reps in sets based on your training plan.

Dips

TricepDips This exercise mainly works your triceps, but your chest and shoulders also pitch in. Again, if you are new to dips, you can use a machine to assist you at the gym, or have a spotter hold your legs. Weight belts can also be added for the more advanced candidate. Strong arms, shoulders, and chest help to support you with breathing economy and efficiency in movement on any endurance sport you encounter.

Proper Technique:

  1. To start, hold your body up above the bars with your arms nearly locked.
  2. Keep your elbows close to the body as you inhale while slowly lowering your torso down to a 90-degree angle between the upper arm and forearm.
  3. Exhale as you push your body back to the starting position using your triceps.
  4. Repeat for the planned set of reps.

Planks

Plunks Planks should be in every endurance athlete’s training plan. They are a type of isometric exercise that requires your muscles to stabilize against resistance (gravity). Planks are often used for injury rehabilitation and conditioning. However, they can also help you push through training plateaus and transfer energy between your upper and lower body when performing endurance sports. Planks target your rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis, or your outer and inner abdominals. These muscles stabilize your core during the exercise. However, you will feel this workout throughout almost every muscle group. While some trainers tell you to hold the plank as long as you can before collapsing, I am of the opinion that once proper form is lost, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Therefore, if your hips start to sag or arms shake after eight seconds, then do six reps of eight-second planks followed by two seconds rest for total of one minute. This way, you keep proper form the entire time and create more of an interval training scenario. As you progress, you can hold the planks longer. However, I believe shorter planks performed correctly with multiple repetitions give you better results than poor planks held for a longer timeframe.

Proper Technique:

  1. Lie on the mat on your stomach. Get into a pushup position, except you put your forearms on the ground instead of your hands. Keep your elbows under your shoulders.
  2. Squeeze the glutes and tighten the abdominals too keep your entire body straight and parallel to the mat. Keep your neck and spine neutral by keeping your eyes down.
  3. Hold the position for as long as you can maintain proper form or do specific intervals.

Push-Ups

Marines_do_pushups Push-Ups are another litmus test of muscular endurance prized by the military and athletes. Like the plank, they can be performed anywhere with no equipment required. Push-ups utilize the chest, shoulders, triceps, smaller muscles of the upper back, and the core, conditioning them to support the endurance athlete in all disciplines with proper posture and power transference. The exercise ranges from the easiest version performed on the knees to advanced moves utilizing medicine balls, weights, and leg movements.

 Proper Technique:

  1. Lie on the ground face down and then bring your torso up with extended arms. Your hands should be about three feet apart.
  2. Lower yourself down to where your chest almost touches the floor while you inhale.
  3. Then, press your body back up while squeezing your chest. Pause at the top, then repeat for as many repetitions as you can do with proper form.

 Don’t get me wrong, I also utilize weights in the gym, but these four body-weight exercises are my favorite for building overall core and upper-body endurance no matter where I am. There is a reason they have been a part of fitness work for decades and aren’t just the latest rage the flashy new fitness craze being marketed on the Home Shopping Network.

 They are also no-excuse exercises. They are simple to do anywhere. Even if you aren’t a member of a gym, you can often find an outdoor playground with equipment to perform the pull ups and dips and work it into a training run or bike route. You can also perform planks and push-ups in between swimming sets or after a hard bike session or tempo run. When you add these disciplines safely into your workouts, you will notice your performance power increase and your risk of injury drop. While legs may be the wheels of most endurance sports, your engine is your core. Focusing on your upper body and core muscle endurance will translate to faster times in races and stronger, longer training sessions.

4 Great Ways to Get Fit at Home With Little to Nothing

home fitness Getting fit doesn’t necessarily require a gym – in fact, it’s actually better to get in shape without needing to rely on a gym. If you feel as though you HAVE to go to the gym, then what are you going to do if your car doesn’t work, or if you have to be at home for one reason or another?

Learning to get fit at home can be your greatest asset. In fact, you’ll find that you need very little to get in shape:

Adjustable Dumbbells

A pair of adjustable dumbbells is an amazing investment if you want to work out at home. You’ll find that a top-notch pair will run you about $200 or $300. If you’re looking for a bargain, you can find one on Craigslist or eBay. Two adjustable dumbbells – adjustable from 5 to 50 pounds each – is more than enough weight to get you into awesome shape!

Resistance Bands

If you’re sick and tired of lifting weights, why not try resistance bands? You can still do many of the classic bodybuilding exercises, but without the annoyingly heavy weights in your hands. The bands will be much easier on your wrists, and you can still get an awesome workout.

Of course, you will need a complete set – which will only run you about $100 – but it will allow you to do almost all of the exercises you’d do with free weights and machines at the gym. In fact, you’ll find that resistance bands are much more versatile than any machine, and they’re so much more you-friendly than those thick, heavy metal bars!

Home Gym

home fitness A weight set can be a costly investment, but you can actually make your own home gym for peanuts…if you’re smart about it! Building a weight bench can be very cheap, though you’ll need to be sure that it’s strong enough to hold your weight plus the weight you’re lifting. You can use pretty much any metal bar as your barbell, and weight discs can be made with concrete – using buckets, tin cans, and water jugs as your mold. You can build your own frames for dips, pull-ups, and leg lifts without spending a fortune, and your sweet home gym is ready for you to work out!

Exercise Program

One of the cheapest ways to get in shape at home is to use an exercise program like TacFit Mass Assault. The program cost less than $50, and it’s the total package. All you need is a pair of dumbbells. Click here to learn more. 

See, there’s no need to hit a gym when you can get in shape in your own home!

3 reasons to Perform Whole Body Bodyweight Workouts, and 3 Reasons to Perform Circuit Training Workouts

I’ve often preached the idea of training your entire body in one workout. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the workouts I publish on this site are whole body in nature. But, what exactly are the benefits of whole body bodyweight workouts? Well, here are three reasons why you should consider training your entire body in one workout:

1) Build More Functional Strength

Functional strength training has become a popular buzz word in the fitness industry. But, what does it exactly mean? Out of all the interpretations out there, I believe that functional training simply relates to how your body moves. A more functional body means that you are better at performing sport and daily activities.

Whole body bodyweight workouts generally involve compound movements, or movements that train more than one muscle group at a time. Most compound movements have a greater “transfer effect” when it comes to sport and daily life. For example, the motion of a bicep curl is rarely ever used in average daily life.

However, the squatting motion is one of the most commonly used movements in our daily lives. Another common movement is picking things up off the ground and placing them over head. This is why movements such as bodyweight squats are so important.

2) Build More Muscle and 3) Burn More Fat

Compound movements are not only functional in nature, but they also activate a lot of muscle mass. The more muscle you activate, the harder you work. The harder you work, the greater stress you place on the body. This stress causes the body to build up stronger and bigger.

There are numerous hormonal responses that occur when you activate and train a large amount of muscle mass at once. Two hormones that are released both during and after your resistance workouts are Testosterone and Growth Hormone.

Growth Hormone is important because it increases the utilization of fatty acids as well as the breakdown body fat. This means that your body will use fat stores for energy (as opposed to muscle mass) both during and after your workouts.

In other words, more muscle and less fat!

The Easiest Way to Organize your Whole Body Bodyweight Workouts

There are lots and lots of variations you can choose from when designing your own whole body bodyweight workout. But one of the easiest ways to design a whole body workout is Circuit Training. The purpose of circuit training is to keep your body moving and working at all times.

Circuit Training is one of the most efficient ways of training your whole body within a very short period of time. Think about it, if you were to rest 30-60 seconds after each set you performed, you’d be spending more time resting than actually working out.

The biggest misconception surrounding circuit training is that it’s just a fat loss technique that you performing using easy exercises and high repetitions. The truth is that you there are many variations of circuit training and parameters which you can easily modify for strength, mass, and fat loss.

If you’re up for the challenge, try these Bodyweight Cardio workouts and burn upto 500 calories per session! (Click here for more info)

Top Three Reasons to Use Circuit Training

I’ve written about Circuit Training so many times that there is really no reason to keep repeating myself. However, here’s a quick review of why Circuit Training works so well for whole body bodyweight workouts:

  1. Allows you to work your aerobic system while working your muscles. This translates to a fat burning and muscle building effect at the same time. If you’re burning more fat with your circuit workouts, that means you’ll have to spend less time on the treadmill.
  2. Remember how compound movements release lots of Testosterone? Well, short rest periods also aid in releasing more testosterone. We already know why Testosterone is so important for overall fitness. Also, long boring cardio sessions lower testosterone levels, so you’ll be boosting Testosterone your levels even more by staying away from the Treadmill.
  3. The final reason why I love circuit training so much is that it allows my workouts to remain short and sweet. Sometimes I have workouts that last a mere 10 minutes, but these workouts are usually the most intense because I’ve pushed myself to the maximum.

If you’re up for the challenge, try these Bodyweight Cardio workouts and burn upto 500 calories per session! (Click here for more info)

But if you’re really stuck on figuring out how to exactly organize your workouts, then here’s a simple template you can use:

  • Step One: Choose a Push Up Variation (Pushups, Hindu Pushups, Feet Elevated Pushups, Dive Bombers, Elevated Pushups, T-Pushups, Spiderman Pushups, One Leg Pushups, One Arm Pushups, Uneven Pushups, Handstand Pushups).
  • Step Two: Choose a Pull Up Variation (Pullups, Chinups, Mixed Grip Chinups, Side Side Pullups, Circular Pullups, Commando Pullups, Typewriters, L-Pullups, Gorilla Chins, One arm Chinups, One Arm Assisted Chinups, Assisted Chinups)
  • Step Three: Choose a Lower Body Exercise (Squats, Lunges, Squat Jumps, Side Lunges, Boot Strappers, Ankle Grabbers, Hip Raise, One Leg Hip Raise, One Leg Boot Strappers, Tuck Jumps, Squat Tuck Jumps, Duck Walks, Bear Crawls)
  • Step Four: Choose number of circuits to perform (usually 2-20)
  • Step Five: (Choose rest interval (0 to 120 seconds)
  • Step Six: Choose repetitions for each exercise (1-100)

The following is a sample workout showing how all the steps fit together:

Perform 3 rounds of (Step Four):

  • Hindu Pushups, 10 reps (Steps Two and Six)
  • Gorilla Chins, 5 reps (Steps Three and Six)
  • One Leg Boot Strappers, 20 Reps (Steps Four and Six)
  • 30 Seconds Rest (Step Five)

If you’re up for the challenge, try these Bodyweight Cardio workouts and burn upto 500 calories per session! (Click here for more info)

 

Get Ripped and Strong with Bodyweight Training at the Park

Have you ever wondered how some of those guys training at your local part got so big and ripped? They don’t seem to be lifting ANY weight and yet they seem to be MASSIVE! What gives?

If you’ve ever seen those Calisthenic Kingz or Barbarian videos on YouTube, you notice that these guys are doing all sorts of insane things on the pullup bar. If you’re thinking, “Well I can’t do those things!”

Guess what! At some point, those big guys you see at the park were either overweight or scrawny. Their physiques are the product of countless hours of practicing the skills they enjoy showing off.

If you haven’t devoted a specific amount of time to ONLY bodyweight training, then it’s time to start! Today I present to you a three-day per week program that requires ONLY what you will find at the park:

Pull Day:

  • Chinup – 5×50% of max reps
  • Inverted Row with Feet on the Floor – 2×20 reps
  • Wide-Grip Pullup – 3×50% of max reps
  • Inverted Row with Underhand Grip – 3×20 reps
  • Parallel Grip Pullups – 4xmax reps

*Tutorials for all pulling exercises can be found here: Bicep Bodyweight Exercises for Bigger Arms

Push Day:

  • Dips – 4×50% of max reps
  • Pushups – 2×15 reps
  • Decline Pushups – 3×10 reps
  • Close Grip Pushups – 3×10 reps
  • Bodyweight Shrugs – 4×15 reps

*Tutorials for Dips and Decline Pushups can be found here: Best Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises You Can Do at Home
*Check out more pushup variations here: More Ways to Make your Pushups Harder

Leg Day:

  • Bodyweight Squats – 4×20 reps
  • Burpees (without pushups) – 4×10 reps
  • Squat Jumps – 5×5 reps
  • Lunges – 3×8 reps each side
  • Shuttle Sprints – 4×30 seconds

*Tutorial for the Bodyweight Squat can be found here: Bodyweight Squat Basics
*Tutorial for the Burpee can be found here: Burpees the Most Intense Bodyweight Exercise
*Here are some more cardio options to add in your park workouts: 7 Cardio Exercises for Faster Fat Loss

Try these bodyweight workouts for a month and see what kind of shape you get into. Once you get through this basic phase, you need a TOUGHER program. Check out the Underground Manual by Brett Kilka: The Undergound Workout Manual.

Bodyweight Training – Strong, Fast, and Lean

bodyweight training When I began training with just my bodyweight, I began with a lot of hindu push ups and hindu squats. This high volume training got me bigger, faster, and leaner. My shoulders and quads blew up. I was able to move faster in Karate. It was also easier to keep my weight down while performing long marathon sessions of hindu push ups and hindu squats.

This prescription comes straight from the pages of Matt Furey. Although I respect the guy, and I’m sure this isn’t 100% his fault…but my knees started hurting. BAD! One day my leg literally LOCKED into place, and I couldn’t move it for a while. Then, a few days later I experienced some extreme knee pain while on my morning jog.

Since then, I’ve warned against hindu squats and excessive jogging. There are better ways of getting bigger, faster, and leaner which do not need you to lift any weights.

Get Strong

The basic principle of getting stronger is making your movements more and more difficult over time. The reason gymnasts are so freakishly strong, without ever lifting a single weight, is that they contort and control their bodies in ways which are nearly unimaginable to us.

We forget that they had to start from somewhere. They most likely were not concerned much about getting bigger or stronger for the simple sake of getting bigger and stronger. A gymnasts primary goal is to become a better gymnast. So as they practice their skill training, they are also working on their strength.

The simple by-product of a male gymnasts’ gymnastics training is more muscle and strength.

Sure, you can join a gymnastics class. In fact, if you have this opportunity, by all means TAKE IT! I did about a year of gymnastics when I was very young, and the flexibility I developed through that class has stayed with me since.

If you’re unable to take an actual class, then start THINKING like a gymnast. Focus on “skill training.” For example, start off with 20 pull-ups in a row. Next, work on performing your first muscle-up, and then build up to doing 20 muscle-ups in a row.

Keep pushing the boundaries of what you can do with your body. Work up to performing all the tough bodyweight movements – one-arm push ups, handstand push ups, plank push ups, etc.

Get Fast

sprinting My neighbor is fast. He was telling me about how fast you needed to run 400 meters to qualify for an event, and it was MIND-BOGGLING!

An average sprinter is FAST.

I ask my neighbor what his workouts look like and all he really does is…SPRINT! He rarely lifts weights. All he’s doing is propelling his body forward, one stride at a time.

Sprinting is a forgotten style of bodyweight training which needs to make a comeback. Do not just see it as another form of cardio. Sprinting IS bodyweight training.

Most of the workouts that I’ve posted on this website involve combining sprints with some sort of bodyweight movement. If you really want to take advantage of sprinting, then you need to devote an ENTIRE session to sprinting.

I trained with my neighbor ONCE, and this is how the session went down, roughly:

  • 1 Hour Warm-up
  • 30 minute Sprint Training

Yes, you’re reading that correct! 1 full hour of warm-ups! The warm-up was like a workout for me. I was exhausted by the time the real sprint training began.

Get Lean

In the process of training hard for their individual sports, gymnasts and sprinters get REALLY lean. Unfortunately for the rest of us, training like a gymnast or a sprinter is out of the question if we are to balance our workouts with work and family life.

Therefore, it’s best to follow a joint solution which includes progressive bodyweight training, sprinting, and a sound diet.

3 more Burpees Workout Routines for the Holidays

Yesterday I presented you guys with 3 burpees workouts to keep you in shape for the holidays. Well, I’ve got three more burpees workouts which are even tougher and more fun to do.

However, with these workouts you will need one more extra piece of equipment: a pullup bar.

Burpees Workout #1: Alternating Sets

Perform a set of burpees, rest 60 seconds, then perform a set of pullups. Rest 60 seconds then go back to burpees.

10 rounds of:

  • 15 Burpees
  • Rest 60 Seconds
  • 8 Pullups
  • Rest 60 Seconds

Burpees Workout #2: Double Supersets

Rest 60 seconds after the first superset. After all rounds are completed in the first superset, move on to the seconds superset.

10 Rounds of:

  • 8 Burpees
  • 4 Pullups
  • 60 Seconds Rest

10 Rounds of:

  • 15 Squat Jumps
  • 8 Pushups
  • 60 Seconds Rest

Burpees Workout #3: Interval Supersets

Perform as many burpees as possible in 100 seconds, then move onto pullups. Rest 100 seconds and repeat.

7 rounds of:

  • Burpees – 100 Seconds
  • Pullups – 100 Seconds
  • Rest 100 Seconds

One of the best ways to help you with your intervals is to use the GymBoss Interval Timer. It costs just $19.95, and you can program it to help you keep track of any sort of intervals you may use. Click here to grab yours today.

For even more fat burning, high intensity workouts, check out Bodyweight Blueprint for Fat Loss. Click here for more information.

How Effective is Bodyweight Training?

You ever watch that show “Ninja Warrior?” Ninja Warrior is a tournament held in Japan that has individuals try to get through a nearly impossible obstacle course. These obstacle courses don’t require brute strength and incredible endurance.

What they require is the ability to move your own bodyweight effectively through space. The athletes who actually complete these courses are usually very lean and cut. The big guys usually fall off. The short guys usually slip.

And over confident guys fail the first.

Ninja Warrior is one of the best tests of effective body control and mental toughness. The reason I’m talking about this is because Ninja Warrior also effectively brings to mind the effectiveness of even basic bodyweight training.

Most people will never compete or even think about competing on Ninja Warrior. However, what the show reveals is a very simple lack of most training programs: the ability to move. Most people simply can’t move.

Powerlifters can move big weights, but most have difficult moving themselves up a flight of steps. Distance runners may be able to move forward, but they do so at aridiculously boring, slow pace. But a Ninja Warrior, on the other hand, needs to jump, crawl, duck, sprint, climb, and fall in order to survive the challenges that are faced before him.

What I’m talking about is the idea that you first need to develop a base level of health and fitness before you can pursue a narrower goal. Getting enormously big, or incredibly lean, or super fast, or super strong, or developing unbelievable endurance are useless if you can’t do other things well.

I believe that basic bodyweight movements such as pushups, pullups, squats, jump roping, jumping, sprinting – anything that involves improving the movement of your own bodyweight is very crucial to your overall well being.

Just by performing these basic movement, you’ll be leaner, stronger, and more agile. For example, when peforming a pullup or pushup, your body will perform better if it has less to push and pull. In other words you’ll lose weight.

And when you already carry a good amount of weight on your body, you’ll be training your joints to handle lifting that much weight. Why are you hitting the weights if you already weight 100, 150, or 200 lbs?

You already have enough weight to lift. Learn to lift your weight first before you decide to join a gym or start buying pieces of weight. Basic pushups and pullups actually work a greater amount of muscle tissue then popular gym movement such as the bench press and row.

Click here if you want to experience the true effectiveness of bodyweight training today and learn over a hundred simple bodyweight movements that will help you become healthier, stronger, and leaner.

This article links out to products. If you purchase these products, I get a percentage of the sales. Read my disclaimer.

Top 7 Turbulence Training Dumbbell/Bodyweight Combination Workouts

Hey,

The following are my picks for the best combination Dumbbell/Bodyweight workouts:
  1. DB Mass at Home
  2. KB-DB-BW Fusion
  3. DB-BW Fusion 2008
  4. Busy Gym TT2K6
  5. Fusion Fat Loss
  6. 15Lbs in 8 weeks Workout
  7. Mass Fusion

Hope you enjoy these workouts!

– Parth

The 4 Progression System to Incredible Bodyweight Training Progress

I’ve always said that the key to progress with bodyweight training is to continually add in more difficult exercises into your routines. But I never really went beyond the basic pushup variations.

Continue reading The 4 Progression System to Incredible Bodyweight Training Progress

Best Bodyweight Exercises for Men at Home for Intense Workouts

Want an intense workout you can do at home? Add the following exercises in your regular routines, and see what happens:

Forward Lunge

The forward lunge is one of the toughest lower body movements, but not enough people are using them because, well, they’re tough. All you need is your bodyweight to perform this movement.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. You can hold dumbbells if you want, but start off with the bodyweight version. Step forward with your right leg and take a slightly larger than normal step.

Keep your left toe on the ground. This will help you maintain your balance. The left knee should also be bent. Lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the ground.

Keep your body upright, with your chest up, back straight, and abs tight. Push with your right leg to starting position. Hold dumbbells with your hands on your sides to increase the intensity level.

Side Plank

Lie on the floor or mat on your right side. Support your bodyweight with your knees and your right elbow. Raise your body up off the ground, keep your body as straight as possible.

Keep your back straight and hips up. Hold your abs and breath normally. Hold this position for 8-10 seconds (or more) and return back to starting position.

Repeat on the other side.

Mountain Climbers

Here’s another great bodyweight movement you can use as a cardio movement as well. Start off in the top of the pushup position. Tighten your abs and pick up one foot off the floor.

Bring your knee up to your chest. Return the foot back to starting position and repeat on the other side.

If you’re looking to get lean and jacked with bodyweight exercises you can do at home, then check out Turbulence Training.

Trainer and Author Craig Ballantyne has developed hundreds of fitness programs that revolve around the basic concepts of Turbulence Training.

To get an overall introduction to Turbulence Training, you should grab the original Turbulence Training manual. The manual includes everything you need to get started on your fat loss journey. There are workouts for beginners, intermediate, and advanced trainees. If you go through each program separately, in a few months you’d have literally transformed your health and physique. Click here for more information.

For individuals who have had some experience with exercise or even Turbulence Training, then Craig has numerous other workouts specifically designed for women, muscle mass, bodyweight only, abs training, and more.

You need to make the decision today: Are you going to continue to follow pointless, boring workouts and never get any impressive results, or you going to take a chance and try some truly unique ideas using Craig Ballantyne’s workouts? Start today with either one of the Turbulence Training workouts: