There is a dynamic world of unique ways to manipulate an exercise to make it much more challenging and effective. Bodyweight exercise is not just a “finisher” exercise after the “real” weight lifting exercises are completed.
Push ups are a bodyweight exercise staple, but there are many variations of a single movement.
Why do so many people see bodyweight training as limited? Because the only variable they know how to adjust is number of repetitions. For example, at first a person’s goal might be to perform fifty push ups in a row. Once the person achieves that, then what’s next? Eighty, ninety, or 100 push ups?
This type of thinking is linear and limited. When, in fact, bodyweight exercises are extremely versatile and can help anyone build lean muscle and increase strength.
How to Manipulate Bodyweight Training
In this article, I’m going to teach you three methods I have been using for years. These methods will help you make bodyweight training more effective:
- Adjust the angle of the exercise
- Manipulate your body weight distribution
- Decrease speed during the eccentric
By applying each of the above techniques, you will be able to make any bodyweight exercise more challenging - and transform it from an endurance exercise (high reps) into a strength exercise (low reps). Let’s cover each one individually.
1. Adjust the Angle of the Exercise
In traditional lifting, angles are adjusted constantly to target different muscle fibers within the same muscle group. For example, flat bench press targets the middle portion of the chest, incline bench press targets the upper portion, and decline bench press targets the lower portion.
When you perform bodyweight exercises, angles can also be manipulated to target different regions of the same muscle group. For example, if you perform the normal push up, you target mostly the middle portion of the chest.
Traditional push ups target the middle portion of the chest.
When you place your feet on a chair or desk, therefore performing a decline push up, you target your upper chest.