T Nation

Bodyweight Newbie


hey all, I've been a lurker on your forums for a while and like the good advice I've been reading.

I started the beginning of January, just to let you know where I was and where I am now. I was going down the drain, 4-6 beers a day and no exercise, skipping meals, junk food, fast food, etc. Now I don't drink alcohol at all, no junk food, eat whole grains, lot's of cheese, meat, fruits, take vitamins, glutamine, whey protein, and I'm liking the results. lost inches off my waist and getting better shape, and over all feel better, the wife is very proud.

I'm not against using weights at all but only interested in using my own bodyweight to get toned up and strong. I'm a big fan of chinups, pullups, pushups, ab crunches and one legged squats, so far they are working great for me, those chinups are a real killer, I started with only 2 reps last month and can now do 6, my goal is 15 reps, no matter how long it takes.


Is there a question here?

regardless, congrats on the progress thus far.

any reason why you're opposed to adding external loads? You'll probably find a point where you want to incorporate them.


you shouldn't have said "toned up" I hope you have a fire protective suit lieing around


I may find when I reach a certain point that I might use weights to help with my pullups, my issue with using weights is
-clutter in the apartment
-not being able to do the same routine on the road
-have very bad joints right now (fly fishing related maybe??) my right shoulder and elbow get pretty sore. but I just started taking glucosamine.
I think for now though, I just really want to see what I can accomplish without them, I'm very patient, so as long as I'm getting exercise though it's cool.
I also do cardio 3 days a week, my wife has a recumbant exercise bike I get on when watching tv.


"you shouldn't have said "toned up" I hope you have a fire protective suit lieing around"

LOL, yeah, I didn't know what term to use, I don't like the sound of that either.

guess what I meant to say is "get strong, lose beergut" hehe


Ok, like many people I'd say it's a good idea to be able to handle your own bodyweight before you even dream about using weights. (read no bicep curls until you can do a chinup...please?) etcetc

But at some point unless you want to focus on extremely technical lifts (pistols, freestanding handstand pushups, 1 arm pressups, planche pressups, front levers etc) then well weights is well...simpler. I do a mix (primarily because I don't have a bench or squat rack or a power rack.)

Try buying an Olympic Weightlifting set. 300lbs of weight (buy a weights tree if you're allergic to clutter) should be plenty for you to be getting on with. It's not expensive and you can do most lifts that you really need with it. As Pavel (I know you guys don't like him) said: hardcore basics come cheap.


Sounds bit extreme IMO.


It is slightly extreme and it generally doesn't work. But don't go doing about 10 sets of curls and no chins. It's quite evident as Cosgrave says you haven't earned your ''curling rights''


What was the question?

Good work, sounds like you are making great progress.

Weights are a more efficient way of working out because you know the poundages, and you can more easily do certain lifts. However you can go a long way with bodyweight alone and a few tricks, and maybe a few simple additions.

Here are some suggestions:

  • lay on back, grab something (a table? a pole across two chairs?) and do like a pullup, makes a bodyweight bent over row kind of move

  • handstands, handstand pushups, working up to one arm at a time

  • one arm chinups

  • pushups at all angles, ie 45 degrees on the way to a handstand

  • a couple of elastics and a bar can add resistance to a bodyweight or one legged squat, and elastics can travel well on the road. Also, many other things can be done with elastics.

  • dips. are you doing dips? easy enough to setup. you could hang two slings from your chinup bar and do the dips off them. slings are cheap from climbing stores. actually if you have a good chinup setup you can hang slings and do all manner of wonderful bodyweight exercises in a small apartment


oh, there was no question, just introducing myself, thanks for the great advice everyone. although you scared me when you mentioned "one arm chinup". looks like I got a way to go yet!!


I suppose. But if you can't even do a chin-up, bodyweight should be more than enough to get you stronger. Weights would be unecessary. Not that they'd hurt at all.


He's right. Try to add weight to those exercises if you can. The combination of a bodyweight exercise plus added resistance really makes them very effective.

Also, I am I huge fan of bodyweight exercises. But you will still need to use exercises like deadlifts and bench presses, & even clean and presses if you want to have some great strength. Bodyweight exercises are the best in my opinion. But, I wouldn't rule out maximum strength developers out of your program.

Even if its just once or twice every week or so will make a tremendous difference in your overall gains. Try to include at least one fullbody heavy loading day in there some where. There is no substitute for strength other than a maximum load.

By the way if you want to increase your pull ups. Try doing 50. Do as many sets as you have to until you reach 50. If you can only do one, than do 50 sets of one. A little trick I borrowed from Arnold Schwarzenegger.



Not to be a bastard but I bought into the hype of bodyweight exercises over weights and was very dissatisfied with the results.

I went from 0 to 10 1-arm push-ups each arm and was weaker in jiu-jitsu than when I just benched.

I went from 1 to 8 one-legged squats each leg and my legs were weaker for running and jumping than when I just back squatted.

I say join a gym and lift on the road, every town in America should have a gym that you can sneak or pay your way into (this coming from a guy living in CA, maybe it's different in other parts).

Feel free to ignore this advice if you keep getting results, if you stop then maybe this will be relevant. I got a lot out of bodyweight exercises when I was a kid, but I would have been better off lifting weights, that is if I was lifting correctly (my best friend blew out his knee in high school by using an old leg press and going too heavy on the weight).

The problem, IMO, with bodyweight only is that it becomes difficult to work the weak spots. For example, my chins were stuck so I added Farmer's Walks, my grip was stronger and I could do more chins. Trying to mimic this movement with bodyweight only is putting an unecessary limitation on yourself. Also it's tough to make minute adjustments in load vs. adding 5lbs to the bar.

Either way good job for losing the weight and getting in better shape.


If you can only do one chin per set you are unlikely to be be able to do 50 sets x 1 unless you rested for like 10 mins between each set which would obviously take ages.


Keep up the progress man! Nice to hear there are some other flyfishers out there. I started a few years back and am really growing to love it, esp. saltwater. Now I rarely ever use the old baitcaster =)


I know stig, just an example. lol

maybe 20, 25 or 30 woould be a goal to hit if you could only do 1

i never had a problem getting to 50, so i just aimed for 50 with the weight belt on. 50 would only take me 3 sets. i like 5 sets of 8-12 with the weight belt on.

peace stig

i liked that other avatar, you looked bigger in it


you make sense very well

bodyweight is not for strength

its for bulk, tone, endurance, hardness of the muscle, increase in capalaries<

freeweights are for strength

there is no hype for bodyweight exercises as excellent strength builders, because they're not. they're endurance builders.

bench for strength
push up for endurance
do my push ups flys, (Basicaly) a slide push up) with some weight on your back. And you will see some major bulk.

anyways good luck. try adding more weight if your looking for size.
otherwise your mostly getting an endurance workout not strength. strength is all about loading to the max. dont matter what your doing.


It's all resistance training. Being able to do something more times or the same number of times with more weight, especially a compound movement, will lead to more strength. 25 chin-ups at 200lbs vs. 10 at 200lbs, and who do you think would be stronger in the arms and back? I just think bodyweight has many limitations and is overly hyped.

As for bodyweight being suited for bulk, tone, endurance, etc. Well, that is a long discussion not worth having from my POV.

It's all resistance training.


if in cramped spaces and yea dont want clutter consider a set of powerblocks and gasp a swiss ball

I take my powerblocks with me on the road and they take up very little space


Of course that is why different loading and different set/rep schemes have no purpose...