Getting in shape with Bodyweight Calisthenics

Getting in Shape is pretty hard. There are a lot of things you need to consider including your diet, what you’re going to do, how ofter you’re going to , and how you’re going to recovery from your .

Don’t you wish there was a full manual teaching you all the steps from beginning to end? Well, there is! I just stumbled upon a great manual called Gymless System. It’s developed by Alistair Ramsay is a UK based fitness coach and writer who specialises in and other anytime, anywhere methods.

I caught up with Alistair to ask him how to get in shape without actually going to a gym:

Parth Shah – Getting in shape is like fighting an epic battle for most people out there. Why do you think that is, and how can your GTS manual help?

Alistair Ramsay – First and foremost one of the main reasons it is so hard to get in great shape is poor food choices. The food industry has swamped our supermarkets with processed food full of refined carbohydrate, toxic fats and other chemical nasties. If you want to transform your physique the first thing you need to do is sort out this side of the equation. Switch to eating real foods from good sources (vegetables, lean meats, fish, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and clean water) and you will quickly notice good things happening to your body. I devote an entire chapter to this topic in the manual. Remember, you will never be able to out-exercise a bad diet!

From an exercise stand point there are two main problems. Firstly many people simply don’t exercise. This may be for a number of reasons including time constraints and/or a dislike of the commercial gym environment. Secondly many people who do exercise on a regular basis waste their time with ineffective training methods. My manual can help with both these issues as it will allow people to workout from home or outdoors whilst only incorporating the most effective training strategies for body composition change.

Parth Shah – About the nutrition part. What I also feel is that people believe that it is hard to eat clean. But that’s a complete myth. What are some common training myths from an exercise standpoint you feel are holding people back from achieving their goals?

Alistair Ramsay – Great question Parth, there are certainly plenty of training myths floating around. I shall quickly address two of the ones which irritate me the most.

Firstly you should base your workouts around training movements, not muscles. This means compound, integrated multi-joint movements like squats, push ups and pull ups are in. Leg curls, bicep curls and tricep extensions are out. This simple tactic will increase both the efficiency and effectiveness of your workouts. With fewer exercises you can train a greater % of your whilst simultaneously learning to move your body as it was designed to.

Secondly you should focus on quality of workout not duration of workout. Too many people seem to think the best strategy to shifting body fat is endless hours of gym time. They are missing the point.  It is not the duration of a workout that is important, it is the effect the workout will have on your physiology that is important. Working out out for longer, simply to is a futile task. Exercising is not about trying to out-burn your energy intake. It is about creating the right stimulus and environment for long term fat loss and muscle gain to occur. Shift your focus to shorter workouts and inject some real intensity to your training. This will create a powerful biochemical environment for body composition change (fat loss, muscle growth) which low intensity, marathon sessions simply cannot replicate.

Parth Shah – We all hear “keep changing your workouts for constant progress.” So how often should someone change their workouts, and to what degree should they change the workout?

Alistair Ramsay – This is very much an individual thing and much will depend on your training experience. As a general rule beginners can work with a for a longer period of time before progress plateaus. More advanced athletes on the other hand will need to mix up their training program on a more regular basis to avoid stagnation.

In the GTS Manual I recommend shifting the focus of your training every fortnight from strength (harder exercises, slower tempo, longer rests) to strength endurance (easier exercises, faster tempo, shorter rests.) I have found this formula works very well indeed. In terms of changes, they do not need to be too drastic. Subtle tweaks are all that is required to create a new challenge for the body to adapt to.

Examples of changes you could make to your training program include:

– Changing exercises (within the same movement catergory)
– Adjusting training tempo
– Reducing/increasing rest periods
– Implementing a new sets/reps structure

Again, the exact length of time you will continue to benefit from a training program will vary from individual to individual. The best way to judge when you should mix things up is when your performance gains begin to level out. At this point, look to tweak the workout structure to give your muscles a new challenge to adapt to.

Parth Shah – With , burnout is bound to happen. Is there a way to avoid complete training burnout? And if you do experience burnout, what’s the best way to bounce back and get back into training?

Alistair Ramsay – It is certainly true that you cannot train at 100mph for weeks on end and expect not to get burnt out, beat up and eventually injured. The best way to avoid burnout is to listen to your body and take a recharge week whenever you feel like your body is suffering. As a good baseline level I recommend taking a recharge week at the end of each four week training cycle. Some people may find they can wait a bit longer, others may need to take one sooner. Again, peoples recovery rates are all very different so prescribing an exact formula is impossible. Instead learn to listen to your body, if your energy is plummeting and your workout numbers are dropping it is definitely time to take a break.

It is also important to note that a recharge week does not mean you should necessarily stop training altogether, instead focus on reducing the intensity/volume/frequency of your workouts. In addition a recharge week is a great time to focus on restorative forms of exercise like joint mobility, movement skills and myofascial release.

Thats all for today! Check back tomorrow for some more from Alistair Ramsay. Until then, check out his training manual at GymlessTrainingSystem1.com.