Bodyweight Minimum Standards, How Do You Measure Up?

What a weekend!

Saturday just gone I was over in Galway teaching the Bodyweight Workshop.
Sunday I was with Wild Geese Martial Arts founder, Paul Cox where we presented at the Filipino Martial Arts Exchange, then when I got home, the wife and I took a rare night out together at the movies where we saw Mama.
The Missus spent most of the movie clinging onto me with one hand and shielding here eyes with the other hand. Big scaredy cat!


But anyhow, back to the workshops..

Galway was cool.
I’ve run the bodyweight workshop in a few gyms now and always been blown away but the response I got from the attendees. In each workshop, at least half the attendance are instructors and coaches in their own right, and still they leave blown away by the possibilities of training with zero equipment.

Duckwalks - feeling the buuuurn!

Duckwalks – feeling the buuuurn!

Now I’ll admit, we did digress once or twice and grabbed the odd bit of kit to illustrate a point or show how to progress a movement by adding external resistance, but the majority of the work requires nothing more than your body and few feet of floor space.
The best thing is that when I created the workshop I actually wasn’t that confident that the first half would stand up to scrutiny, after all, how long can we talk about a simple Push Up and a Bodyweight Squat?

Well? How long?

An entire hour on each movement is how long. And that’s not even going into mad variations. We take the movement and dissect it, we strip it back to its absolute foundations, look at regressions, common errors and then progressions. The progression we build to are the unilateral versions, the Pistol squat and One Arm Push Up.

What makes the day workshop special is that it seems this level of technical detail in these simple exercises is largely missing, or possibly more accurately, it’s forgotten.
Very few people give these movements their due.

And that is a problem.

Each time I run the course, I have some very experienced gym goers and athletes humbled by these exercises that are considered basic.
Watching a person doing a Push Up or doing a Squat can tell a story. It shows limitations, structural imbalances and body awareness. It gives an idea of how well a person can move athletically.

So here’s a few minimum standards for these bodyweight exercises, see if you can pass them. Remember, quality is key here, I won’t accept half reps, poor quality reps, so neither should you. Accept nothing less than perfection.

And before you go on, no, I’m not perfect, some of these I struggle to meet:

Elbow Plank – Minimum acceptable standard: 2 minutes

Push Up – 50 real reps (25 for women), chest will touch the floor between the hands and the arms will come straight on each and every rep. Keep the spine in neutral throughout, that means no sagging heads or backs. (I rarely do high rep push ups, so don’t know if I can still do this. I’ll check this week..)

Bodyweight Squats – 500 reps, full range ie hamstrings meet the calves on each rep. Keep the feet flat, although 500 Hindu squats is also good.

Wrestlers Bridge – Weight on the forehead, for 1 minute. (This one gets me!)

Single leg bridge – 50 reps per leg, from floor to full hip hyperextension.

Pull Ups – overhand grip for 15 (5 for women) full reps. I give slight rider on these, I don’t expect guys to relax into a dead hang at the bottom, as that messes with my shoulder so I don’t like it as a technique. Keep the shoulders retracted the whole time.

Once you have these, try then the following:

One Arm Push Ups x 10 each hand.
Pistol Squats x 20 each leg

20 of these per leg please.

20 of these per leg please.

Just to reiterate, quality must come before quantity.
Do your bodyweight numbers add up?

Next week I’m up in Crossfit Causeway teaching Kettlebell Technique. That’s going to be a blast!

See you there!



Glute Strength and Hamstring Injury

"The Hips Don't Lie" and who are we to argue?

Hips have been a hot topic around here at the moment.
An Fear Rua, a major website covering all the top information in the GAA (Gaelic Amateur Athletics, Ireland’s indigenous sport) have published an article I recently wrote talking about hip strength for injury prevention in their athletes.

In the article I talk about the importance of strengthening the hip in order to prevent the most commonly occurring off the ball injuries, the knee.
Today’s post isn’t going to be a rehash of the article, but does support it.

I’ve a soccer playing athlete recently joined me. He’s been complaining of hamstring injury and chronic tightness in the hammies for the last few years. Physio’s that he;s seen have told him to rest, and when he does he gets some respite. However as soon as he’s back on the ball, his injury rears its ugly head and he’s lucky to see out the season.

By chance he stumbled across Wild Geese and within a few weeks we’ve gone a long way to reduce his pain and loosen his hamstrings.
Not with stretching, but with strength. Not strength in the hamstrings themselves but int he glutes.

I introduced him to a the Bridge and the Hip Thrust exercise. I have to tip my hat to Bret “the Glute Guy” Contreras for relaunching these drills into the weight training psyche.
The following video shows how we integrate the hip thrust into a training program. in this case it’s a contrast set.

We take the Hip thrust for 5 reps, rest 30- 45 seconds then Swing the kettlebell for 8 reps in each hand. this is repeated for 4-6 sets.

The first exercise targets the glutes directly, the second integrates them into the whole.
End result, stronger, more efficient hips, which will allow the hamstrings to relax and return to their resting length.

Here’s the video:

As always, use common sense when trying out any new exercise or protocol.