Progressive Tension Bodyweight Training – Part 1

When most people think of bodyweight training they think of high rep sets of push ups, dips, squats, lunges and chin ups. No wonder most people think you can’t get big and strong with strictly body-weight training. Because in order to build muscle and increase strength you need to gradually increase resistance overtime. Adding endless reps of push ups and chin ups won’t do much except increase your muscular endurance. However, that’s only one style of bodyweight training and I am going to introduce you to a whole new style of bodyweight training that will blow your socks off. I call it progressive tension bodyweight training. So instead of adding weight to an exercise you simply progress to more advanced variations of a movement that will create more tension in your working muscles. Your muscles respond to tension, whether its from a piece of iron, a sandbag or your own bodyweight. The greater the tension – the more strength that is required and the more muscle you can build.

If you still don’t think you can build super human strength with bodyweight training then you are in for a rude awakening. Let me ask you a few questions:

  1. Can you do a perfect one arm push up? How about a one arm push up with your feet on a chair?
  2. Can you do full range of motion hand stand push ups against the wall with your hands elevated?
  3. How about a strict one legged squat?
  4. Last but not least can you do a one arm chin up? I mean a real one arm chin up NOT the type where you grab your wrist with the non working hand!

Chances are you can’t do any of those movements! And if you were to build up to doing these exercises you will build amazing strength and some solid, functional muscle.

These are only a handful of the body-weight exercises I have worked up to. I have some pretty insane bodyweight exercises that would freak you out! Ones that will develop stronger lats and abs then any other exercise on the face of the planet. Many of these exercises I learned at Santa Monica Pier from some of the most muscular and ripped dudes on the planet. Guys that have mastered their own bodyweight and as a result built incredible physiques that would put 99% of the guys in your gym to shame.

Progressive Tension Bodyweight Training

You can build a killer body shape with bodyweight exercises. Personally, I think that the way to get the best out of training is combine resistance training exercises with bodyweight training exercises.

Let me ask you one more thing!

How much can you seated dumbbell shoulder press with perfect form for 5 reps?

I built up to doing 75 lbs per arm for 5 reps. Pretty good right? WRONG. I could barely do a full range of motion handstand push up. After 1 month of just doing handstand push ups for my shoulders I went back to the dumbbells and was able to do 80 lbs easily. Oh and at a bodyweight of 175 lbs.

This is just a taste of what bodyweight training can do for you. Now I am not suggesting you stop lifting weights and instead focus on bodyweight training. Instead I am recommending you blend bodyweight exercise and resistance training together. You will build the greatest physique by combining the two. In addition you will have the freedom to work out with just your bodyweight. You will be able to maintain or improve your physique no matter where you are in the world.

In the next article I am going to share with you the most effective bodyweight exercises and how to gradually build up to them. So, stay tuned, there is more coming up!

Update: The second article has been recently published and you can check it out here: Bodyweight Training Part 2

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About Gregory O'Gallagher

Greg is a guest blogger for Muscle Pyramid. He is a fitness enthusiast and believer in doing things differently than what conventional fitness community dictates. He loves bodyweight training and teaches advanced methods to build a lean "Hollywood look". You can check him out at KinoBody Fitness Systems and also get his free Greek God Workout Manual here.